Review By Gabrielle

Full of wonderfully written characters, Bookish People takes us behind the scenes of a DC independent bookstore.

Favourite Quote:

“She sometimes thinks the world divides into two types of people, those who think books are for reading when there’s nothing else to do, and those who avoid other things to do in order to read books – and unsurprisingly she’s in the latter camp, but really is it so awful?”

Goodreads Synopsis: 

Independent bookstore owner Sophie Bernstein is burned out on books. Mourning the death of her husband, the loss of her favorite manager, her only child’s lack of aspiration, and the grim state of the world, she fantasizes about going into hiding in the secret back room of her store.

Meanwhile, renowned poet Raymond Chaucer has published a new collection, and rumors that he’s to blame for his wife’s suicide have led to national cancellations of his publicity tour. He intends to set the record straight—with an ultra-fine-point Sharpie—but only one shop still plans to host him: Sophie’s.

Fearful of potential repercussions from angry customers, Sophie asks Clemi—bookstore events coordinator, aspiring novelist, and daughter of a famed literary agent—to cancel Raymond’s appearance. But Clemi suspects Raymond might be her biological father, and she can’t say no to the chance of finding out for sure.

This big-hearted screwball comedy features an intergenerational cast of oblivious authors and over-qualified booksellers—as well as a Russian tortoise named Kurt Vonnegut Jr.—and captures the endearing quirks of some of the best kinds of people: the ones who love good books.

I just love any book set in a library or bookstore, so I was excited at the premise of this book. Sadly, it was not to my taste. The book is billed as a “big-hearted screwball comedy,” and I didn’t find it funny at all; in fact, I found it rather depressing. I think it just wasn’t my particular sense of humour.

I will say it is well written. The characters are masterfully crafted, full of depth and nuance. In this book, the chapters alternate between the perspectives of Sophie, the bookstore owner; Clemi, the events manager that works there; and Raymond, the poet. We get great insight into all these characters.

I did enjoy some of the quirky aspects of the book, like the drama with the vacuum cleaner and the turtle, aptly named Kurt Vonnegut Jr. As the book builds towards Raymond’s appearance at the bookstore, not a lot actually happens. Still, the event day itself is pretty great. You might like this if you love the sort of “behind the scenes,” character-driven books. I tend to prefer books with a bit more action in the plot, but I believe there is a book for every taste, and I’m sure there are readers that will love this. Maybe I just wasn’t in the right frame of mind for this book when I read it.

Thanks, Harper Muse for HarperCollins for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.