A Novel Bookstore by Laurence Cossé is a very original take on an enduring theme: the passion that readers have for books. What is the dream of book lovers everywhere? To visit the perfect book store, one that stocks only the best of books, where "best" is defined by the guarantee of a transformative experience via the magical linking of words into sentences into paragraphs into chapters into BOOKS. A place where tables display not the latest products of publishers and marketers but instead the trustworthy choices of other book lovers. A place with couches to sit on, a place with long opening hours and a welcoming staff, a place where customers spend as much time as they want browsing or reading. A place where only good books are sold and no bad choices can be made.
When two bibliophiles meet by chance, one a mangy wanderer, and the other a beautiful aristocrat, and decide to open a bookstore, they vow to create just such a place. Such is the premise of A Novel Bookstore but it is more than just a thoroughly delightful exposition on the perfect bookstore. By twisting in a plot of star-crossed lovers, talented writers with hidden powers, mediocre writers gone mad, standardless publishers gone green, crummy bookshops gone empty, and witless critics gone ignored, Cossé makes her book an engaging love story and also a gripping story of deceit, revenge, and despair. Books endure but the people who love them will take more than a few knocks in A Novel Bookstore. There were moments in the book that made me cry but there were even more moments of fist-pumping ("You go, purveyors of the good book, you go!") and of feeling wholly embraced by the acknowledgment of just how important good books are -- and how many of us book lovers out there know it. I am not alone!
What is unique about the passion we book lovers have is how willing we are to share what we love. No one ever keeps a good book to themselves. I may keep the name of a good restaurant or perfect beach quiet in order to ensure these favored spots are not ruined by popularity, but I will happily share a beloved book, either through outright lending or a gift or just the title: "Read A Novel Bookstore - you'll love it" goes out over my phone or email. And why not share? There are always more and more books out there to read and love.
The only real injury that can be done to a book lover is time wasted on a book that does not offer anything new or lovely or moving. That pisses us off big time and that is why a bookstore like the one in A Novel Bookstore is so important. The function of a bookstore is to match lover and loved to ensure the perfect date. The purpose of the bookseller is to provide what we addicts need, and a good bookseller recommends the best stuff to satisfy our love for books.
A Novel Bookstore is a deeply satisfying manifesto of book love and a sharp indictment of those who would use such love for their own evil purposes (profit, fame, to beat out the competition). I've recently spotted a bumper sticker that read "Fight Evil: Read". I think Cossé and her brave booksellers would agree.