The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap is a charming memoir about a couple who decides to leave their relatively stable jobs and lives in academia to chase their vaguely mentioned pipe dream of owning a used bookstore. Wendy and Jack decide to open their store in a large old house in the intimidatingly small town of Big Stone Gap, VA. The book chronicles the ups and downs of their first five years in business as it introduces readers to the personalities and politics that define the couple’s new home.
One of the great things about this book is that it’s written in a way that appeals to all types of readers. If you’re one of those people who prefers to devour a book in one sitting, The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap is perfect for you. Wendy Welch describes her town, her store, and its patrons in such a way that you just want to keep reading about them and ignore the world around you. If you, like me, are somebody who’s always doing a million things at once, this book is great for that too. It’s broken down into chapters that serve as little vignettes that are easily snuck in during lunch, before bed or while brushing your teeth. Each chapter does a great job of telling its own story, so you don’t feel like you need to go back and re-read before picking up where you left off.
At the end of the day, The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap is two things. It is a cautionary tale about starting a business by the seat of your pants without a plan or the capital to do so and about navigating the choppy waters of being a stranger in a small close-knit town. On the flip-side, it’s an inspirational story of following your bliss and doing what it takes to live a life that you design for yourself, rather than being a “renter in your own skin”. For Wendy and Jack, that meant finding friendship and community and rediscovering the uncommon pleasure of a good book.
Trisha Tucci lives near Baltimore, MD with her husband, 4 cats and 2 dogs. She is a university employee by day and grad student and bibliophile by night. She loves Harry Potter and books about books, but will read just about anything that can spark her imagination.