The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap

The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap : A Memoir of Friendship, Community, and the Uncommon Pleasure of a Good Book

3.65 (1,894 ratings by Goodreads)
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Wendy Welch and her husband had always dreamed of owning a bookstore. When the opportunity to escape a toxic work environment and run to a struggling Virginia coal mining town presented itself, they took it. And took the plunge into starting their dream as well. They chose to ignore the "death of the book," the closing of bookstores across the nation, and the difficult economic environment, and six years later they have carved a bookstore - and a life - out of an Appalachian mountain community. A story of beating bad odds with grace, ingenuity, good books, and single malt, this memoir chronicles two bibliophiles discovering unlikely ways in which daily living and literature intertwine. Their customers - "Bob the Mad Irishman," "Wee Willie," and "The Lady Who Liked Romances," to name a few - come to the shop looking for the kind of interactive wisdom kindles don't spark, and they find friendship, community, and the uncommon pleasure of a good book in good company. "The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap" will make you want to run to the local bookstore, and curl up in an armchair with a treasure in bound more

Product details

  • Hardback | 304 pages
  • 147.32 x 213.36 x 30.48mm | 385.55g
  • St Martin's Press
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 1250010632
  • 9781250010636
  • 707,409

About Wendy Welch

WENDY WELCH and her husband (Scottish folksinger Jack Beck) own and operate Tales of the Lonesome Pine Used Books in Big Stone Gap, Virginia. An Ethnography PhD, she rescues shelter animals (SPAY and NEUTER, thanks!) and is one of the world's fastest crocheters. This is a good thing because between her day job teaching college courses on culture and public health, running special events at the shop, writing about stuff, and chasing kittens out of roads, she doesn't have a lot of spare more

Review quote

In a time when brick and mortar bookstores around the country are literally imperiled, "The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap" comes along like a cool compress on a nagging wound; with humor, compassion, and a bold leap of spirit, Wendy Welch leads us back to this nearly forgotten truth, that bookstores are not simply distribution hubs for books, they are the warm living rooms of our culture, the portal to our dream worlds, the anchors for our hungry, drifting souls. Buy this book! Andre Dubus III, author of Townie and The House of Sand and Fog The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap confirms what I've long suspected, that book lovers are good people and that bookstores are the best places on earth. Add in the elements of pre-loved books, in-love bookstore owners, and to-fall-in-love with local characters, and you have The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap, a story to thrill anyone who has ever dreamed of owning a bookstore (and which book lover hasn't?) and a memoir sure to warm the cockles of the hearts of readers everywhere. A treasure of a book about books. "Nina Sankovitch, author of Tolstoy and the Purple Chair: My Year of Magical Reading" Wendy Welch's memoir, "The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap," is a delight. Starting a used bookstore in a small Appalachian town during the decline-of-the-book era may seem like rank folly, but the project--and the book turn out to be anything but foolish. With warmth and humor, Welch details the small successes and large missteps along the path to finding a place in a community. She shows that, even in the age of the e-reader, there is hope for books and those who love them, and that reading and bookstores still perform an important function in civic life. Her clear prose sparkles with personality in this heartening tale of the perils and rewards of following one's dream. Thomas C. Foster, author of How to Read Literature Like a Professor Wendy Welch's memoir is entertaining, informative, and - best of all - big-hearted and wise. A perfect pick-me-up for people discouraged by talk of the death of the book. Sam Savage, author of Firmin and Glass Charming, lively, bubbling with anecdote, incident and insight, Wendy Welch's animated memoir is any reader's perfect companion. You read this book and feel you've made a friend. By turns comic, and thoughtful, "The Little Bookstore at Big Stone Gap " brims with "joie de livre." "Laura Kalpakian, author of American Cookery and The Memoir Club" Amusing, engaging, astute, and perceptive, Welch's buoyant memoir of an endangered way of life is a fervent affirmation of the power of books to bring people together. "Booklist" The whole narrative exudes enormous charm and the value of dreams and lives truly lived. "Publishers Weekly" An entertaining book with a full cast of eccentric characters. "Kirkus" Candid and endearing tale . . . Wendy brings a sense of humor and compassion to her story, sharing the trials and tribulations on opening and running a new bookstore. It is a joy to see the transitions that Wendy and Jack experience, and how a bookstore can be a magnet for heartbreaking stories and a hub of community spirit. This books is such a warm and engaging journey, best enjoyed with a cup of tea or three. "Beyond the Margins" A heartwarming, cheerleading affirmation of indie bookstores everywhere. Don't fly those flags at half-staff yet. "Cleveland Plain Dealer""show more

Rating details

1,894 ratings
3.65 out of 5 stars
5 18% (347)
4 41% (783)
3 30% (565)
2 8% (157)
1 2% (42)

Our customer reviews

There are few avid readers I suspect who have not dreamed of opening a bookstore, one that becomes the hub of a community, with loyal customers and generous patrons. Wendy and Jack Welch took a gamble on opening a second hand bookstore in Big Stone Gap (the Appalachian town featured in Adriana Trigiani's series) with little more than a dream and a handful of paperbacks, in the midst of a recession. The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap is the charming tale of Wendy and Jack's journey from their used book shop's impulsive inception to a thriving store in a small community. Started on a shoestring budget in a town that expected the 'outsiders' to flee within six months, Jack and Wendy worked hard to create a going concern that slowly gained the loyalty of the locals and became an important part of the community. Wendy is a personable narrator with a conversational writing style. The anecdotes Wendy relate veer between funny, tender and sad about her and Jack's own adventures (or misadventures), and her quirky clientele. Wendy's passion for her store, books and her community is evident on every page. It's heartwarming to read of Wendy and Jack's business ethos, where people matter more than profit. Tales of the Lonesome Pine develops into more than just a second hand book business, as its proprietors reaches out to their community. Be warned though, Wendy's disdain for 'box stores' (chain booksellers) and Amazon which may well offend some readers. The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap is a delightful memoir which I very much enjoyed reading. And Tales of the Lonesome Pine is certainly a place I would love to someday visit and I hope will still be there, just as described, should that miracle ever occur!show more
by Shelley Cusbert
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