Books can offer comfort at the darkest of times. That’s the message in The Bookshop on the Corner, and it was a happy coincidence that I happened to be reading it during the turmoil of our election last week. This book was the perfect antidote to political and media stress. It’s gentle, sweet, and reassuring — just what the doctor ordered!
Nina Redmond is a 29-year-old librarian who is shattered at the news that her branch library in Birmingham, England will be closing. Unable to bear the thought of getting rid of so many books, she begins bringing them home by the carload, annoying her roommate and running out of space. Nina’s a bit of a stereotype: quiet and bookish, living through novels, but the loss of her job spurs her to make some big changes in her life. She decides to open a bookshop – in a van. The only problem is that the only suitable vehicle in her price range is in a tiny village in northern Scotland. Nina, setting aside her shyness, bravely heads up to Kirrinfief to find her van, and her adventure in bookselling begins. Not only does Nina find herself a new profession, but she finds romance too.
Colgan does a lovely job describing the wild and craggy Scottish landscape. Her writing style is conversational, with a gentle sense of humor. There are wonderful parenthetical asides that pop up throughout the book that allow the omniscient narrator to make observations outside the main story line – so fun! She also starts the book with a message to readers, offering suggestions about the best places to read. This is a book that you just know is going to end well, and that was perfectly okay with me.
The book offers a pointed message about the importance of libraries and reading. It’s also a statement about the beauty of books, and about having the courage to pursue your dreams. So if you’re looking for a wonderful little book that offers some inspiration, and shelter from raging political storms, try The Bookshop on the Corner.