Shelf Life: Romance, Mystery, Drama. and Other Page-Turning Adventures from a Year in a Bookstore

Suzanne Strempek Shea, Author Beacon Press (MA) $20 (223p) ISBN 978-0-8070-7258-5
To fill the time as she recovered from cancer and chemotherapy, Strempek Shea volunteered at a friend's independent bookstore in Springfield, Mass. An accomplished novelist (Around Again; Lily of the Valley), Strempek Shea felt at first like a spy--""a farmer hanging around the dairy section""--as she observed customers in constant discovery of books. Despite the bleak reason for her new job, she embraced it with delight and here recounts her sojourn at Edwards Books with humor and passion. Not a great deal happens though, even during the coverage of 9/11. She looks at the small, independent bookstore, and how it stays in business. Although she can't help making fun of the inane questions she's sometimes asked (""What would you recommend for a flight to California? I'll be sleeping most of the time""), she lovingly portrays devoted book folks, such as""the tiny older woman who arrives on her payday to buy two or three more mysteries. The young woman who received the call that the latest of the Gothic novels her mother collects have arrived."" The author also shares droll, albeit tacitly self-promoting, insights on the tour for her latest book (""there are maybe forty people at my reading, and I even know two of them!""). As readers absorb the life of the bookstore and author, many will be tempted to look for the titles she drops throughout the work. Book enthusiasts who pine for a friendly, like-minded community will love this light, funny memoir.
Reviewed on: 05/01/2004
Release date: 05/01/2004
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