I read it in just a couple sittings. It's definitely a feel-good book; I suspect I'll turn to it again next time I'm in bed with the flu.
Has anybody not heard about this book? Just a few months ago it seemed to be on every blogger's lips. If you haven't read it — if you love books and have a soft spot for books about books — find it.
One day, an adventure knocks on Helen McGill's farmhouse door — she buys a bookmobile from a strange little man, only to stop her brother, now a writer who's as good as abandoned the farm, from doing same. Having compiled an anthology of 6000 loaves of bread over the years, she's hankering after a few carefree days of her own, so she ups and leaves the farm to learn the itinerant bookseller's trade, and a little something about life and love.
I began to see something of the little man's idealism in his work. He was a kind of travelling missionary in his way. A hefty talker, too. His eyes were twinkling now and I could see him warming up.
"Lord!" he said, "when you sell a man a book you don't sell him just twelve ounces of paper and ink and glue — you sell him a whole new life. Love and friendship and humour and ships at sea by night — there's all heaven and earth in a book, a real book I mean. Jiminy! If I were the baker or the butcher or the broom huckster, people would run to the gate when I came by — just waiting for my stuff. And here I go loaded with everlasting salvation — yes, ma'am, salvation for their little, stunted minds — and it's hard to make 'em see it. That's what makes it worth while — I'm doing something that nobody else from Nazareth, Maine, to Walla Walla, Washington, has ever thought of. It's a new field, but by the bones of Whitman it's worth while. That's what this country needs — more books!"
I'm pretty sure the bored, pudgy clerk behind the counter had no idea what he sold me.