Beach Book Review:

Lewis Buzbee “The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop”
Graywolf Press, 2006

Oscar Wilde called them golden books – gems of his library, books that meant him a lot. This one is a golden tooth in the pearly smile of my own library. The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop by Lewis Buzbee. No, not about the sea. It’s a book about the books.

At first I judged this book by its cover. Sea in twilight and a reassuring lighthouse made out of books. This is an artwork by German illustrator Quint Buchholz and I thought – that’s it! I have a dream about the bookshop by the sea, and here is an exact illustration of it.

When I opened this small and mysterious book, I was welcomed by the jolly yellow inside cover and a quote by the Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh: “I think that I still have it in my heart someday to paint a bookshop with the front yellow and pink in the evening .. like a light in the midst of the darkness.” So I bought the book.

Lewis Buzbee once worked as a bookseller in San Francisco, then he was publisher’s sales rep, now he is a writer, who has written many books including this beautiful and personal story about his never ending love affair with the seductive bookshops. I must warn, this is contagious.

It’s also a historical journey from the Great Alexandrian Library with around million papyrus scrolls (that were burned by conquerors to heat the Alexandrian bathhouses, oh my) to Sylvia Beach’s famous Paris bookstore Shakespeare & Company (where James Joyce’s big bad baby Ulysses was born), stopping but not finishing in nowadays, when books and bookshops are not dead yet.

Very warm book, printed on a beautiful paper.

“Time may be money in the rest of the world, but not in the bookstore. There’s little money here, so we can all take our time.”


One by one I will write short reviews on books I’ve read from my growing sea library. Here I will collect them.


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