Friday, January 13, 2017

Browse - Henry Hitchings

Sent to me by the Publisher in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: 6/10/16

Publisher: Pushkin Press

ISBN: 978-1782272120

Format: Hardback, 249p

Genre: Non-Fiction

Rating: 5/5

Summed up in a few words
Nostalgia. Passion. Sentiment. Unity. Books

First Impressions
Browse is the first book from Pushkin Press I have had the fortune to read. Thank you to Perry for sending me this review copy. I am a gargantuan fan of books about books as some people may know. I am an even bigger fan of GREAT books about books, such as The Bookshop Book by Jen Campbell or The Bookshop That Floated Away by Sarah Henshaw. Browse has definitely made my top 5 as it displays a passion for books that involves so many people from different walks of life. All the authors that contributed to this collection are all united by an unwavering passion for books that all started in bookshops from all around the world.

Book Synopsis
A cabinet of curiosities, a time machine, a treasure trove - we love bookshops because they possess a unique kind of magic. In Browse Henry Hitchings asks fifteen writers from around the world to consider the bookshops that have shaped them; each conjures a specific time and place.

Ali Smith chronicles the secrets and personal stories hidden with pages of secondhand books; Alaa Al Aswany tells of the Cairo bookshop where revolutionaries gathered during the 2011 uprisings; Elif Shafak evokes the bookstores of Istanbul, their chaos and diversity, their aromas of tobacco and coffee. Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor recalls the quandary of choosing just one book at a favourite childhood store in Nairobi, while Iain Sinclair shares his grief on witnessing a beloved old haunt close down. Others explore bookshops they have stumbled upon, adored and become addicted to, from Delhi to Bogota.

These inquisitive, enchanting pieces are a collective celebration of bookshops - for anyone who has ever fallen under their spell.

My Thoughts
Books that capture the magic of both picking up a new book or stumbling upon an amazing new bookshop you never knew existed are probably my favourite kind of book. One aspect of being a reader that unites everyone is what inspired them to learn to read. The places and individuals that encouraged them to fall in love with books and the stories within. Browse captures this feeling and substance perfectly.

Each of the contributors to this collection have singled out a bookshop that was significant in both their life and career. Browse is a thoughtful, pensive and enticing trip through the world's drastically different bookshop experiences and how they shaped the author's and reader's of today. Each story is filled with wonder, nostalgia and influence. Moments like finding old train tickets in used books, working in bookshops, finding secret book sections and the frustration of only picking one book at a time. Each author manages to bring something new to the subject.

Fortunately it does not get repetitive, with every author having a unique perspective. The most bizarre being Sasa Stanisic who writes about books in a jarring and strange style. Talking as if books were a substance, a drug that can influence your life and change your mind about how the world works. Browse is brimming with inspiration, optimism, pessimism, fear and happiness. Every bookshop is hiding wonderful secrets, secrets that cannot be found on book websites. It is up to us to go out, find them, cherish them and pass them on to those we love.

I will always seek out book related books as I think the subject empowers readers, excites us and leads us to place we might not have considered before. Browse will suit any reader, I recommend Browse to everyone who finds bookshops fascinating, important and significant. Thank you for reading this review, I advise you to pick up this book as soon as you can. I hope you enjoy it and please tell me what you thought.

Pick up a copy of Browse here: Amazon UK/Amazon US/Goodreads 

About the Editor: Henry Hitchings is an award winning writer, reviewer and critic. He has written for the Guardian, TLS, Financial Times and Wall Street Journal, and is currently the Evening Standard's theatre critic. He is the author of several acclaimed books on language, literature and culture, including Dr Johnson's Dictionary and The Language Wars. In 2008, his book The Secret Life of Words won the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize and the Somerset Maugham Award, and in 2009 he was shortlisted for the title of Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year.

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