Confessions of a Bookseller and Brave New World

 Confessions of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell

Oh how I hated to come to the end of this book. About half way through I mentally moved into the little cottage out back and I'm not yet ready to leave it or this bookshop or this town. I'll remember it as one of the best vacations I've never had.

The book is a year's worth of journal entries from the owner of The Bookshop in Wigtown, now known as Scotland's National Booktown. His wry observations on everything from his cat, Captain, to his parents, his staff, and the many quirky people who frequent his shop are engaging and funny. He has a dry sense of humour, a way with words, and a bookshop with 100,000 books organized in 9 different rooms. If ever I was able to travel again, Wigtown would be on my bucket list. 

Book nerds, you will love this one.  

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

A dystopian world where people are produced in a factory and conditioned from birth to believe that they are happy no matter what class they've been assigned to or what kind of work they have to spend their lives doing. There are five classes: alpha, beta, etc. with alphas at the top being the tall, attractive upper class and epsilons at the bottom being the short, ugly menial workers. There is no freedom, no privacy, and no opportunity for personal relationships, but neither is there any worry or pain. If anxiety begins, a drug called soma is freely distributed to lull you into not caring anymore. "Everyone belongs to everyone" means everybody has sex with everybody, but there's always somebody keeping tabs to make sure no deep relationship develops. Outside the major centers there are places where "savages" live, people who still have life partners and children are born in the old way. The two worlds collide when a "savage" is revealed to be the biological son of a new world director. Trouble ensues. 

The story is a less than subtle warning against living for pleasure and letting technology control our lives, timely cautions in these days. It's an interesting scenario, but one that doesn't allow us to imagine a happy outcome for anyone. 


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