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The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop: A Memoir, a History

3.78  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,895 Ratings  ·  346 Reviews
In The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop, Buzbee, a former bookseller and sales representative, celebrates the unique experience of the bookstore--the smell and touch of books, getting lost in the deep canyons of shelves, and the silent community of readers. He shares his passion for books, which began with ordering through The Weekly Reader in grade school. Interwoven throughout is ...more
Hardcover, 216 pages
Published May 30th 2006 by Graywolf Press (first published 2006)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jeffrey Keeten
May 04, 2016 Jeffrey Keeten rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-on-books
“November, a dark, rainy Tuesday afternoon. This is my ideal time to be in a bookstore. The shortened light of the afternoon and the idleness and hush of the hour gather everything close, the shelves and the books and the few other customers who graze head-bent in the narrow aisles. There's a clerk at the counter who stares out the front window, taking a breather before the evening rush. I've come to find a book.”

I spent from 1985-1997 working in the book industry. I started with Publisher's Bo
Nov 24, 2015 Kathryn rated it liked it
This has some great quotes about books, especially in the beginning, and some interesting facts about the history of books and booksellers throughout the ages. Hard to believe that originally booksellers were not traditionally the quiet, reputable members of society we expect today!

Toward the end of the book, the author describes bookstores from around the world (admittedly mostly American) which I enjoyed reading about - and putting some shops on my mental “must-visit” list! Unfortunately there
Stephen P
Dec 16, 2015 Stephen P rated it liked it
The book opens with the feel of a book in his hands, the pleasure of slipping into the waiting world beneath the print, the buying of more books than can be read, all leading to the incurable illness of "book lust." Buzbee's life has been spent as a reader. He has traveled through bookstores all over the country, especially the one around the corner from where he lives, sitting, reading and purchasing.I follow alongside as he works as an author selling his book, as a bookseller, a book rep. for ...more
Feb 06, 2016 Melora rated it liked it
Uneven. There were sections I enjoyed, and others that quickly became dull. Overall more enjoyable than not, but not quite what I'd hoped for.

As the subtitle, "a memoir, a history," indicates, this is actually two sorts of books in one. Buzbee tells the story of his own life as a reader, from the pleasures of choosing just the right books to order from the Scholastic catalogs distributed periodically in elementary school (I particularly enjoyed this part, as I remember those flyers clearly and a
Oct 27, 2008 Walt rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
A super book for all true book lovers. It relates the history of bookshops (of all sizes), the publishing industry, the role of the web, on-demand publishing, and the roles played by publishers, sellers, agents, reps, agents & authors. The best part is that Mr Buzbee shares his serious analysis and understanding of WHY we love bookshops, and why they will endure.
Lisa Vegan
Nov 21, 2008 Lisa Vegan rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone who is fond of bookstores, those who enjoy books & the history of book selling
Every time I read about an author’s account of books & reading, I now compare them with Anne Fadiman’s book Ex Libris and they simply never live up to her work, an unfair assessment perhaps since I love Fadiman’s book so much.

However, this is a special book too. It’s a seemingly effortless mesh of autobiography and biography and history of bookstores. He might not write the soaringly beautiful prose of Fadiman but he writes well and his focus is narrower and just as interesting; this is most
Oct 30, 2008 Toni rated it really liked it
A truly delightful little book for those who find it impossible to pass up a bookshop without entering - and once inside always discover some new (or not-so-new) gem of a book to lust after.

An added bonus is the well written history of the book trade, paper, printing, publishing and why independent bookshops will always have a place among the Amazon.coms, Barnes & Nobles, and Costcos.

I also appreciated the look and feel of this pretty little paperback - the quality of the paper, the typeface
Feb 22, 2015 Meliza rated it really liked it
Recommended to Meliza by: Goodreads - TFG
Also posted in mecanism.

“What better place to enjoy the stretched hours than a bookstore.”

Some of my friends, those who don’t read, say that reading for me has already been an addiction. Reading this book reminded me that I am not alone, and thus gave me consent to continue plunging into this obsession. So I would just basically enumerate some of Buzbee’s thoughts that I could relate to. Hehe!

“In the bookstore, we may be alone among others, but we are connected to others.”

By just walking into
Book Concierge
The subtitle is: A Memoir, a History. That pretty much describes this book. Buzbee has been in the book business virtually his whole life, starting as a part-time clerk when he was a teen. He’s worked at the counter, in the back room and on the road (as a publisher’s rep). And he’s also visited bookshops around the world on his own – he can’t help himself.

I am a big fan of independent bookstores and have been a loyal customer of several in my city. It was one of those indies that first brought t
Mar 17, 2014 Grumpus rated it it was ok
Shelves: miscellaneous
I so desperately want to find a good read in common with my Goodreads buds Darlene and John. Unfortunately, this is not it.

Our likes are varied and disparate. So when I come across one that had the potential this one did, I was anxious to read it. I felt so confident that it got a priority move to the top of my to-read list.

The combination of love for and the history of bookstores along with the book publishing industry seemed like a slam duck to me. Those are the topics that made this an excit
Here is a book that speaks to all booklovers. We band of brothers and sisters who have experienced the special joys and satisfaction of browsing the shelves of many a bookstore in search of those books that have tickled our fancies, piqued our curiosity, and commanded our interest.

The author offers an fascinating view into the history and evolution of books and bookstores throughout the world. He also shares with the reader his development from grade school into a passionate booklover who later
Feb 13, 2014 Darlene rated it really liked it
This wonderful little book was written by Lewis Buzbee and if you are like me and you love books ABOUT books and reading and bookstores, you will enjoy this book. You could say that mr. Buzbee is an authority on all things related to books. Besides being a lifelong voracious reader, he also spent most of his adult life working in bookstores in California. And he also worked for years as a publisher's sales rep... explaining that to be a good sales rep, he needed to know each bookstore and book s ...more
JG (The Introverted Reader)
Mar 13, 2011 JG (The Introverted Reader) rated it liked it
Recommended to JG (The Introverted Reader) by: Jensownzoo
Lewis Buzbee has worked around books his entire life. He worked at the local bookstore through school, and then he worked as a publisher's rep, and I can't even remember what else. This slim, satisfying volume is almost a collection of essays about his thoughts on bookstores, books, readers, and publishing.

I believe I was most excited by the first chapter of this book, "Alone Among Others." I might have things slightly confused, but I believe this was the chapter where the author spelled out th
Mar 31, 2011 Kathryn rated it it was amazing
Shelves: comfort-reading
I read this book in a day. One blissful day. I perused the reviews before I bought it and many were along the lines of "That's exactly how I feel," or "This could have been written just for me."

I am no different.

I too was caught up in the anonymous camaraderie of "The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop", delighted to be alone together with other book-lusters (the term 'bibliophile' sounds so posh and really just doesn't cut it) practically giddy at how easily it is to relate to Buzbee, how delightful to s
Dec 30, 2008 Leon rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Buzbee's heart is in the right place, but his writing skills and treatment of history do not quite match his love of bookshops. In trying to elevate bookshops, he falls into cliched language and clumsily executed metaphors. He also juxtaposes episodes from the history of bookselling with his own recollections. This is meant to provide reading variety while educating the lay reader, but the historical anecdotes are treated without rigour (sadly, this is what passes for "accessibility" these days) ...more
Jul 30, 2014 Ycel rated it it was amazing
This book vividly captures the book lover’s inner thoughts as he steps into a bookshop, a place to be “alone among others.” It gives an interesting history of the book, the bookshop and its cousin, the coffeehouse, and includes a stirring account of how James Joyce’s Ulysses got published and how the booksellers were affected by the fatwa issued against Salman Rushdie. A delightful read, it gives the book geek a heads-up on the bookstores to visit in the US and Europe, and posits the likely futu ...more
Feb 05, 2009 Kathy rated it it was amazing
Anyone who loves bookstores and books will love this fascinating memoir of bookseller and author Lewis Buzbee. Bookselling is only part of the adventure of loving books that Buzbee shares. You will find yourself nodding your head in agreement with his descriptions and opinions while learning some interesting information about books, printing, and the business of selling books.
Elizabeth A
Nov 05, 2014 Elizabeth A rated it it was ok
Shelves: dnf, essays, 2014
The author used to be a sales rep and bookseller, and this little book is a collection of essays, part memoir, part history, of the book industry. And I wanted to love it. It should have been right up my alley - books, history of books, insider information on the publishing industry, etc. The first couple of essays were interesting, but I find that after I put the book down, I am reluctant to pick it up again. There is something about this collection that does not work for me. It's not that the ...more
Aug 19, 2015 April rated it really liked it
I love books about books, and the people who love them. My favorite parts of this book are when Buzbee recounts his times working in bookshops, and when he writes about when The Satanic Verses was written how the bookshops stood up for the author and sold to book, even though there were death threats and vandalism. My favorite chapters are "Along Among Others" where he talks about working in the bookstore and his love for books as a young man; "Not My Doolittle You Don't" where he comments on ba ...more
Jul 15, 2014 Lesa rated it really liked it
Lewis Buzbee's The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop is called both a memoir and a history. It is both. It's

the story of his love affair with books and bookstores. It's also a history of printing, publishing, and bookselling. Or, as he says, it "extols the virtues of the brick-and-mortar bookstore".

As someone who loves the world of books, bookstores and libraries, there are passages I loved. Upon entering a bookstore, he says, "I can't help but feel the possibility of the universe unfolding a little, onc
Lucy Hastings
Apr 05, 2009 Lucy Hastings rated it it was amazing
I LOVED this book. For those that like to seek retreat into bookshops to calm down or relax, or to flick through books you know, to be reunited with favourite chapters or characters, for those who spend their time seeking out independent bookshops, and taking pleasure in buying a book there that you know you could get cheaper online, then this is for you.

The author worked in a number of independent bookshops in San Fransisco writes a memoir to the bookshop. However each chapter sandwiched with a
May 15, 2011 Ellie rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop: A Memoir, a History by Lewis Buzbee although not quite as much as I'd thought I would. The first half of the book I zipped through, loving every word. Then suddenly I got a little bored; I just felt that I'd had enough. So after that, I began picking through, reading different sections, not necessarily in order (luckily this was from the library, not a Kindle-my biggest problem with kindle is that I can't browse the way I like to).

This was a good mov
Jun 04, 2015 Kaci rated it it was amazing
Oh man. I don't even know how to begin describing this book. First, let me say that every book-lover, book enthusiast, every person that is literally passionate about books, should read this book. I was taking notes out of this book, there so many good nuggets to take away for me personally, for my library, and for the future of my sweet baby E's reading. It covers a wide variety of subjects within the arena of books, what books inspired the author throughout his life, how the bookstore industry ...more
Aug 24, 2009 Erik rated it it was amazing
I love books. Obviously. And I equally love books about books. Buzbee’s slender volume The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop is one of these gems. It alternates between being a memoir about Buzbee’s career as a book lover and seller, and a brief history of the book, booksellers, and publishers. Along the way, Buzbee sheds light on the Elizabethan origins of the long-held love affair between the coffeeshop and the bookstore (epitomized today by the Starbucks cafes within most Barnes & Nobles), the impo ...more
May 13, 2012 Irwan rated it really liked it
Shelves: finished, 2012
A bookshops is an oasis in which we engage "in the free and unrestricted congress of ideas". A place where we can be alone with everybody else. And the time goes as pleasantly-paced as we want. Where literary serendipities, such as overhearing other book-lusters, can spark interest in new authors or books.

This is the mental picture I have while going through this delightful book. I am quite sure I share it with the author. It did across my mind to apply for weekend job at local bookstores just
This is a history/memoir. Lewis Buzbee has been a customer, an employee and a sales rep for bookstores. He talks about all these experiences in this book, along with a history of the book and booksellers.

I really enjoyed this. I especially found the history interesting. He intersperses his own experiences with the history information. The book was written in 2006, so e-books were really just taking off in popularity, so he only says a little bit about them, but not much. People who love booksto
Maria Elmvang
Mar 10, 2012 Maria Elmvang rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: bibliophiles
A lovely and charming memoir. If you love not just reading books, but shopping for them as well and consider browsing through bookshops a worthwhile passtime, even if you don't purchase anything, then this is the book for you. It was filled with fun anecdotes and made me want to rush out and find the nearest bookshop, just to go browsing through it. Unfortunately Danish bookstores (at least the chain stores) aren't nearly as charming as those I've encountered in other countries, so good thing we ...more
Jul 10, 2015 Kristīne rated it really liked it
Jauks lasāmais visiem grāmatniecības interesentiem, bet man kā pilna laika darbiniekam ar kaut nelielu, bet stāžu - nekas revolucionārs.
Autora personīgais ceļš, strādājot ar un ap grāmatām, feini savīts ar interesantiem faktiem no grāmatu vēstures.
Aug 19, 2007 John rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: absolutely every person on this site
Shelves: bio-and-memoir
One of my better reads for the year so far. Focuses on Buzbee's career in the book biz, with historical background on publishing in general. Strikes just the right balance between educational and general-interest.
Dawn Betts-Green (Dinosaur in the Library)
I guess 3 and a quarter really. Overall I enjoyed this book immensely. I mean, really, how could I not? It's all about books and bookshops and how wonderful they both are. In many places I found myself scribbling "libraries/librarianship too!" in the margins. He talks about books like I do, as wondrous, amazing creatures, but...there were several moments at which he kind of hocked me off. In particular, he made several fairly elitist comments about genre literature and what constitutes "literatu ...more
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Lewis Buzbee is a fourth generation California native who began writing at the age of 15, after reading the first chapter of John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath. Since then he’s been a dishwasher, a bookseller, a publisher, a caterer, a bartender, and a teacher of writing. He and his wife, the poet Julie Bruck, live with their daughter Maddy in San Francisco, just half a block from Golden Gate Pa ...more
More about Lewis Buzbee...

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“The books of our childhood offer a vivid door to our own pasts, and not necessarily for the stories we read there, but for the memories of where we were and who we were when we were reading them; to remember a book is to remember the child who read that book.” 35 likes
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