Shelf Life by Suzanne Strempek Shea

Shelf LifeShelf Life: Romance, Mystery, Drama. and Other Page-Turning Adventures from a Year in a BookstoreShelf Life: Romance, Mystery, Drama. and Other Page-Turning Adventures from a Year in a Bookstore by Suzanne Strempek Shea by Suzanne Strempek Shea

Why I read this book: I love books, and even worked in a bookstore. I love reading about books. I love memoirs. It all seemed like it would add up to a book that I’d LOVE.

And I didn’t. It’s not a bad book by any means – I liked it, I just didn’t love it like I hoped I would.

Some of it was that the book didn’t seem to match the subtitle. There isn’t really any romance, mystery or drama, and definitely no page-turning adventure. It’s a much quieter story than that. I don’t mind quiet stories, but when I’m expecting page-turning, it’s a bit of a let down to have it be so completely not page-turning.

It also reads at times like it’s not sure what it is. Is it memoir of a year working in a bookstore? Or is it a collection of travel memories from the author’s book signings across the country? The comparison of the bookstores she’s usually in to her bookstore doesn’t really work to make those anecdotes feel integrated into the story; they felt very tacked-on and disjointed.

Parts of it I really enjoyed – reading about how she constructs the holiday displays brought back good memories not only of my bookstore days, but also from working in libraries and museums where we would regularly change out displays.

Parts of it I didn’t enjoy at all. The pages of magazine titles carried by her store. Really? Some of the town history also had me skimming the text to get to something else.

If my expectations had been lower I likely would have enjoyed the book more – I hoped for and even expected more from it and that led to extra disappointment.

Publisher’s Description:
Suzanne Shea has always loved a good book–and she’s written five of them, all acclaimed. In the course of her ten-year career, she’s done a good bit of touring, including readings and drop-ins at literally hundreds of bookstores. She never visited one that wasn’t memorable.

Two years ago, while recovering from radiation therapy, Shea heard from a friend who was looking for help at her bookstore. Shea volunteered, seeing it as nothing more than a way to get out of her pajamas and back into the world. But over next twelve months, from St. Patrick’s Day through Poetry Month, graduation/Father’s Day/summer reading/Christmas and back again to those shamrock displays, Shea lived and breathed books in a place she says sells “ideas, stories, encouragement, answers, solace, validation, the basic ammunition for daily life.” Her work was briefly interrupted by an author tour that took her to other great bookstores.

Descriptions of these and her memories of book-lined rooms reaching all the way back to childhood visits to the Bookmobile are scattered throughout this charming, humorous, and engrossing account of reading and rejuvenation.

For anyone who loves books, and especially for anyone who has fallen under the spell of a special bookstore, Shelf Life will be required reading.

Book Details

Title: Shelf Life: Romance, Mystery, Drama. and Other Page-Turning Adventures from a Year in a BookstoreShelf Life: Romance, Mystery, Drama. and Other Page-Turning Adventures from a Year in a Bookstore by Suzanne Strempek Shea
Author: Suzanne Strempek Shea
Category: Nonfiction / Memoir
My Rating: 3 Stars

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

New on My Bookcase (vol. 24)

library haul 24A really small library haul this trip because I know my reading time will be very limited. But I couldn’t resist grabbing a few new items, since I had to make a visit anyway to return some other books and get fresh reading material for the kids.

Nonfiction

Letter from New YorkLetter from New York/BBC Woman's Hour Broadcasts by Helene Hanff by Helene Hanff
Love her books 84, Charing Cross Road and Apple of My Eye so I’m hoping to like this one as much.

Shelf Life: Romance, Mystery, Drama, and Other Page-Turning Adventures from a Year in a Book storeShelf Life: Romance, Mystery, Drama, and Other Page-Turning Adventures from a Year in a Book store by Suzanne Strempek Shea by Suzanne Strempek Shea
A memoir about a year working in a bookstore? Of course I want to read it.

Kids’ Books

Five Children and ItFive Children and It (Dover Children's Evergreen Classics) by E. Nesbit by E. Nesbit
Couldn’t resist trying it after Catherine’s comments about it.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!