Bookshops: A Reader’s History

Book review by Deane Barker tags: books

I really tried with this book, but I had to abandon it.

This is one of those books that doesn’t really have a point. It’s just a meandering journey through one guy’s love of bookshops around the world. He apparently visited 1,000 of them.

I read his Wikipedia page, where I found this:

He uses to [sic] remark the [sic] importance of bookshops in a post-digital era. He points out that people are reconnecting to the material.

Now, I’m not against that, but his writing style is wildly obtuse and even a little arrogant. He plays “inside baseball” a lot – makes references I didn’t get, and he talks about bookshops in pseudo-spiritual terms that just fall flat.

Don’t get me wrong, I like bookstores as much as anyone, but the writing was annoyingly pompous in places, and hard to follow.

Like, seriously – consider this quote:

The book will work this way: it will embrace the comfort of orderly reading and digressions and contradictions that disturb or threaten; it will re-create possible traditions and at the same time insist it only speaks of examples, exceptions from a map and a chronology of bookshops that is impossible to re-create, that is made up of absence and oblivion, suggests analyst and synecdoche, a collection of glittering shards and left over remnants from a history history of encyclopedia that can never be written.

…um, what?

I keep bailing out of chapters in the middle, and then trying the next chapter. I think I completely finished one chapter out of five or six, then I quit it.

Book Info

Jorge Carrion
  • I have read this book. According to my records, I completed it on .
  • A softcover copy of this book is currently in my home library.

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