Bourke’s Bookshelf: ‘Reading is a pleasure to be carefully guarded’
This week's featured read is "The Bookshop on the Corner" by Jenny Colgan.
I’ve come to realize that I probably won’t hesitate to read anything with the word “book” in the title or nicely arranged bookshelves on the cover.
Those two things are essentially what drew me to my latest read when I was scrolling through my phone, looking for a new audiobook to listen to at the gym. The beautiful cover with its rows of leather-bound books and mention of a “bookshop” drew me to it instantly.
Perhaps I did the unthinkable and judged a book by its cover, but luckily it turned out well for me.
Plus, it lets me cross off another square on this year’s book bingo card.
‘The Bookshop on the Corner’ by Jenny Colgan (2016)
Nina Redmond faces a huge life decision when the library where she works in Birmingham, England closes. Services are being consolidated into a more central location, where she can be one of several out-of-work librarians applying for a job in the new multimedia hub.
At 29 years old, the thought of starting over is daunting, but faced with the choice of going for a job she knows would be miserable for a bookworm like her or embarking on a new journey doing something terrifying but wholly in her wheelhouse, she chooses the latter.
Nina spends the bulk of her savings on a large van, stocks it with the boxes and boxes of books she’s accumulated over the years and moves up to Scotland to open The Little Shop of Happy Ever After. Her mobile bookshop serves a rural farming community full of residents hungry for literature after their own local library closed down. Worried about being able to make ends meet, Nina delves into the business, doing what she does best — recommending books. Managing to find a book to suit every patron, Nina and her bookmobile are quickly welcomed and embraced by nearly everyone in town.
But in between the hours she spends buying, organizing and selling her books, Nina finds her personal life in a precarious situation. There’s the smooth-talking Marek, the Latvian night train conductor who offers to make unscheduled stops to help Nina supplement her stock. And there’s grumpy John Lennox, who owns the farm where Nina is renting her room but doesn’t seem to have eyes for anything other than his work and his animals after the messy ending of his marriage.
And there’s also Ainsley, the teenager Nina recognized needed some help and pays whatever she can to help with organization around the shop. It’s clear there’s something lacking in Ainsley’s home life, and Nina tries not to pry but struggles knowing the girl must need help.
I found myself swept away into the beautiful Scottish countryside as I listened to this story. The English and Scottish accents of the characters in the audiobook helped to immerse me in the little world, but it was Nina’s undying love for books that really pulled me in. I know the feeling of wanting nothing more than to be surrounded by volumes and volumes of books and left alone with oodles of time to read them all. I understand how comforting the world of books can be and the itch to get my hands on as many as possible.
For those reasons, “The Bookshop on the Corner” was a delightful, cozy read that made me want to drop everything and lock myself in my apartment with Jenny Colgan’s entire bibliography.
THERESA BOURKE may be reached at
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