Shaun Bythell continues his saga about life in a bookshop with Confessions of a Bookseller using a similar format to his debut book, The Diary of a Bookseller. He once again delights his followers with further anecdotes based on his life in the The Bookshop and the assortment of customers he encounters on a daily basis. The staff themselves are an eccentric mix of characters ranging from Nicky the Jehovah’s Witness who appears on a Friday with food she has recovered from Morrisons bins (referred to as ‘Foodie Friday’) to the Italian volunteer who works for food and board and is nicknamed ‘Granny’ because of all her ailments.
The bookshop is based in the small Scottish town of Wigtown situated in Dumfries and Galloway and its claim to fame stems from the large number of second hand bookshops and now, the Wigtown Book Festival, which takes place annually. There is even a shop in the town called The Open Book which is available to rent out so people can try their hand at retail.
Bythell introduces the reader to some of his favourite books, authors you may not have thought of reading and books you have forgotten you read. He describes Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita as “an extraordinary book, the cleverest and most wonderfully evocative use of the supernatural of any book I have ever read.” He also inspired his reader and customers with quirky quotations; at one time a board outside the shop stated “Money can’t buy happiness but it can buy books which is basically the same thing.” Bythell clearly thrives in this community and spends his leisure time, fishing, climbing, walking and with an occasional swim in the open sea, declaring nearby Rigg Bay as the ‘Kate Moss of beaches’.
Written in the style of a diary it is as much about life in a country village and all its inhabitants as it is about bookshops. It certainly makes you want to go and explore the area and perhaps meet the author in his shop but be careful or you may appear in his next book!