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Tillabooks: Will's Book Blog

Friday, August 29, 2003

Sixpence House: Lost in a Town of Books by Paul Collins. New York: Bloomsbury, 2003. ISBN: 1-58234-284-9

Paul Collins is a talented new nonfiction writer definitely worth reading. His first book, Banvard’s Folly: Thirteen Tales of Renowned Obscurity, Famous Anonymity and Rotten Luck was a delightful ramble through forgotten byways of history, introducing a collection of characters you may have never heard of, but you won’t soon forget.

His current book is no less absorbing. Who knew that there existed in remote, far off Wales an entire town devoted to bookstores and the selling of books? Hay-on-Wye is the town’s name, and our author, having just delivered the manuscript of his first book to his publisher, decides to move there with his wife and toddler from their previous residence in San Francisco.

While the main thrust of this book might seem to be the story of a year in Hay, replete with struggles to find the right old house to purchase, with occasional stints working at one of the oldest and largest bookstores, the real story is the story of books: old, forgotten, obscure books, and the tales they tell. A life in books.

This is definitely a book for lovers of books and reading. A bookworm’s book, if you will. A book for people who love both reading and the idea of books and reading. A kind of “meta-book,” a book about books. Books about books are somehow even more fascinating than ordinary books, in some peculiar way, and this book is certainly one of those books. Highly recommended.


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