Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Review: Sixpence House

I'm still playing catch up to write about all of the books I've read over the past few months. So, here's another one for you.

I finished this book a month or so ago. It's a memoir by Paul Collins called Sixpence House: Lost in a Town of Books. I picked it up years ago because it a) it's about books and b) it primarily takes place in Wales. My mother's mother grew up in Wales and my grandparents met and married, but I didn't know much about it when I bought the book. My grandmother died when my mom was young, and we didn't have much contact with her family there. I started the book right away, but never got past a few chapters. Since then, I actually visited my grandmother's hometown of Tenby, Wales and stayed with my mom's first cousin and met a few members of her family. It was fantastic! But I did not get to visit the setting of this book. But I so want to go back and see it.

Hay-on-Wye. Sixpence House takes place in Hay-on-Wye, Wales and it sounds like a magical place. According to the author, there are 40 bookstores in Hay, but only 1,500 residents. Most of the bookstores are used and rare books. His family decide to move there and the book tells the tale of their journey and adventures along to way. Collins introduces his readers to a variety of interesting characters (residents) from Hay along the way. We also meet quite a few houses that the family thinks of buying. And finally, Collins introduces us to many near-forgotten authors and books.

To be honest, at times the book was a little slow, but overall, I did enjoy it. It makes for an interesting partial history of the book industry, and painted a lovely picture of a beautiful Welsh town. My favorite aspect of the whole book was the chapter titles. I didn't notice them until the fourth or fifth chapter, but they are very clever. You'll have to check out the book to see what I mean.

This volume is just one in my rather large collection of books about books. Do you have any favorites in that category?

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