It is not often that I give up on a book.
I had ordered this from the library on a whim – possibly recommended by a friend on Facebook, reinforced by a conversation with an actual bookseller in St Davids who was reading it at the time of my visit a month ago. It sounded worth trying; I am always fascinated by what makes other readers tick, what books writers read, and in this case, what a bookseller actually thinks about books and the people who read them.
As far as the people are concerned: not much. The diary recounts episode after episode of rude, arrogant, slovenly, greedy or self-obsessed people coming into the shop. Many of them don’t buy anything (and I am guilty of this, though I generally do try to make a purchase from an independent bookseller, out of principle). Most of those who do buy expect a discount, and are disappointed or even offensive when they don’t get one. You might feel that the author has a very low opinion of his fellow mortals; but then, he tolerates the whacky and at times antisocial behaviour of some of his regular customers, not to mention his part-time assistant Nicky, very well.
I read the first half of the book quite quickly, through some bouts of insomnia as well as morning and afternoon reading time. But still, I just don’t think I need any more. I get what the life of a bookseller might be like (and in this case, a reasonably successful one in the bookish town of Wigtown, which appears to be a Scottish Hay-on-Wye – please excuse my ignorance). Do I need to hear more of the same kind of anecdotes? It is one of those books where you think “anyone could have written this”. But of course, only one person DID.