The Bookseller's Tale - Hardcover
Author: Martin Latham
Publisher: Particular Books
Year: Sept 2020
A SPECTATOR BOOK OF THE YEAR 2020
'The right book has a neverendingness, and so does the right bookshop.'
This is the story of our love affair with books, whether we arrange them on our shelves, inhale their smell, scrawl in their margins or just curl up with them in bed. Taking us on a journey through comfort reads, street book stalls, mythical libraries, itinerant pedlars, radical pamphleteers, extraordinary bookshop customers and fanatical collectors, Canterbury bookseller Martin Latham uncovers the curious history of our book obsession - and his own.
Part cultural history, part literary love letter and part reluctant memoir, this is the tale of one bookseller and many, many books.
The Bookseller's Tale is a joy. I read the first chapters in a single binge-read, and each chapter instantly became my favourite ... Individually, the paragraphs are threads of the very best trivia: collectively, they become a cultural history of the book. Memoir-flecked, magpie-minded, relentlessly engaging ... I loved this gnarly old bookshop in nifty book form.
David Mitchell, author of CLOUD ATLAS, Twitter
Martin Latham, who has sold [books] for more than 30 years, has done the tradition proud. His exploration of the history of books, and why we love them so much, is packed with touching stories and fascinating facts ... Underpinning the whole narrative is that simple pleasure, the love of a good book.
Mark Mason, Daily Mail
Latham thinks bookshops should have an "Aladdin's cave feeling" and the same is true of this book, which combines anecdotes about his career (guest author Spike Milligan was a liability) with a cultural history of reading, printing, bookselling, libraries and anything bookish you care to think of (there's even a digression on the 5,500 different species of booklice). If ferreting through bookshops is your idea of heaven, you'll get the same pleasure from this treasure trove of a book.
Jake Kerridge, Sunday Express
I loved this book, and I don't think I've read a book which is more crammed full of fantastic stories, interesting ideas, great quotes, great insights. It's not just on every page, it's in every paragraph.
Simon Mayo, Scala Radio
Garrulous, wide-ranging and humane ... The Bookseller's Tale has the teetering, ramshackle feeling of a reliably eclectic bookstore.
Denis Duncan, Times Literary Supplement
Roaming across topics from legendary libraries to humble book pedlars, as well as historically overlooked literary forms like chapbooks and comfort reads, its appeal is vivid enough that even the electronic edition seems to exude the tantalising aroma of a used bookstore.
Hephzibah Anderson, The Observer
For sheer enthusiasm, it will be hard to beat Martin Latham, bookseller at Waterstones Canterbury for three decades. His The Bookseller's Tale is a collection of tales about famous writers and bibliophiles, but above all a love letter to pages between covers.
Paul Laity and Justine Jordan, The Guardian
A celebration of reading and readers and all things bookish. Entertaining, erudite, eccentric - The Bookseller's Tale is a delight.
Alison Light, author of COMMON PEOPLE: THE HISTORY OF AN ENGLISH FAMILY
Aside from being a history of books, this is a love letter, larded with charming anecdotes. There's AS Byatt buying a Terry Pratchett Discworld novel and admitting she can't be seen doing it in London, and another customer having a heart attack in his shop and saying it would be "a great place to go".
A shared love of books creates a fellowship that transcends race, culture, gender, age and class. This book, written with wit, elegance and understanding, by one who knows what he is talking about, celebrates the abiding pleasure, nourishment and comradeship that books provide.
Salley Vickers, author of THE LIBRARIAN