Wendy Welch The Little Bookstore of Big Stone GapThe Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap

Wendy Welch

St. Martin’s Press


291 pages

Genre: Memoir

 Wendy and her Scottish husband Jack jump blindly into their dream of owning and operating a used bookstore. With high expectations and little understanding of the pitfalls of opening a business in a tiny Virginia town, they begin living their dream hoping it doesn’t turn into a nightmare.

Challenges surrounded them. They do not have enough capital to stock the store with books, were clueless when it came to appraising collectible books and were considered outsiders by the locals. Luckily, their dream, desire to succeed and determination helped them through the difficult times.

This is so much more than a memoir about starting up a small business and following your bliss even when times are tough. It is a love story between Wendy, Jack, the locals and books.

Several times while reading this treasure, I smiled to myself thinking Wendy is profound and eloquent. Her stories brought the bookstore visitors to life. The descriptions and stories about the books she loves and sells gave me too many additions to my “to read” list.

One of my favorite quotes in this book is credited to Alan Bennett’s The History of Boys, “The best moments in reading are when you come across something—a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things—that you thought special, particular to you. And there it is, set down  by someone else, a person you’ve never met, maybe even someone long dead. And it’s as if a hand has come out and taken yours.” Every reader has felt this at least once, and I hope often. Thanks to Bennett for expressing what we feel and to Welch for sharing.

My fabulous Aunt Cindy gave me this book for Christmas. When I told her how much I loved it (after staying up way too late finishing just one more chapter the day I started it) she said she worried because I read so much and it looked different from the usual type of books. She was right that it was different, and should not have worried. This is a book for bibliophiles and tentative readers alike.

In the spirit of the Little Book Store, I will share this book with family and friends. I can’t wait to take the list of books culled from the pages to my local used bookstore, Culture Stock, to see if I can pick up a few of them. I encourage you to do the same.


Copyright © 2014 Laura Hartman