The Haunted Bookshop, by Christopher Morley, has been described as “a love letter to booksellers”, and I agree with that. It’s also just a fun “entertainment,” to quote Graham Greene. As well as many interesting thoughts about the importance of books to individuals and to the nation, and many fun references to books and more books, the story also contains suspense and romance, and a lot of humor. It is not, however, a ghost story. The bookshop is haunted not by ghosts, but by the “ghosts of great literature.”
It is the sequel to Parnassus on Wheels, a book I loved. This one didn’t capture me in the same way, but I did enjoy it, as will anyone who loves books and bookshops. I highly recommend it! Start with Parnassus on Wheels, though, and then move on to enjoy this one.
from the publisher:
“When you sell a man a book,” says Roger Mifflin, protagonist of these classic bookselling novels, “you don’t sell him just twelve ounces of paper and ink and glue you sell him a whole new life.”
Some favorite quotes from the book:
Never argue with customers. Just give them the book they ought to have even if they don’t know they want it.”
You see, books contain the thoughts and dreams of men, their hopes and strivings and all their immortal parts. It’s in books that most of us learn how splendidly worth-while life is.
Books are the immortality of the race, the father and mother of most that is worth while cherishing in our hearts. To spread good books about, to sow them on fertile minds, to propagate understanding and a carefulness of life and beauty, isn’t that high enough mission for a man? The bookseller is the real Mr. Valiant-For-Truth.
“Of course one can’t help loving one’s country,” he added. “I love mine so much that I want to see her take the lead in making a new era possible. She has sacrificed least for war, she should be ready to sacrifice most for peace. As for me,” he said, smiling, “I’d be willing to sacrifice the whole Republican party!”
This book was one of my choices for The Classics Club.