257 Following

Murder by Death

I read cozy and historical mysteries, a bit of Paranormal/UF, and to mix it up, I read science and gardening books on occasion.

Sixpence House: Lost in a Town of Books

Sixpence House: Lost in a Town of Books - Paul  Collins

This was both what I was hoping for and not quite what I wanted.


I've wanted to go to the town of Hay-on-Wye in Wales since I first heard of it several years ago; I want to spend a week there just wandering around and buying books like a sugar addict in a candy shop.  Sixpence House is a book about an American couple as they pull up stakes with the intention of moving to Hay-on-Wye; how could I not snap it up?!?


In this respect, Sixpence House mostly lives up to expectations.  There's a fair amount of time spent in a lot of the bookshops, mostly in the bookshop of the "King" of Hay-on-Wye, Richard Booth.  Collins paints a vivid picture of what extreme book hoarding would look like as he describes Booth's shop and its towering, never-ending mountains of books and the picture ends up being a blend of thrilling, fascinating and horrifying all at once.  They have so many books they end up just storing them outside in open fields!!  


But Collins also spends a lot of time trying to weave his love of old obscure books and his philosophy about life in amongst the narrative about Hay.  This only partially worked for me; I found most of the quotes and anecdotes about the old books interesting, but my enthusiasm was lacking when it came to his writer's angst and philosophising.  I'd like to think it was filler, but I suspect it was meant to lend a bit of gravitas to the book and I'd have rather had more about Hay and the bookshops.  Still, there was some dry wit here and there that made me laugh.


I'm glad I bought it and I'm glad I read it - I enjoyed it much more than I didn't, even if it wasn't quite all I'd hoped it would be.