Shelf Life by Suzanne Strempek Shea – A Review

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Shelf Life: Romance, Mystery, Drama, and Other Page-Turning Adventures from a Year in a Bookstore by Suzanne Strempek Shea
Non-Fiction | Memoir
Goodreads | Amazon
Published by Beacon Press
Released May 15, 2004
Rating: 5_Star_Rating_System_2_stars

As a book lover, I take a lot of pleasure in hearing other people talk about their love of books, which is why I always find myself picking up any book about books that I see at my local library. This is how I ended up checking out Suzanne Strempek Shea’s Shelf Life, which is about the author working at an independent bookstore.

I’ve always dreamed of owning a small bookstore, so I assumed I would love this memoir. However, I found it lacking in several areas.

First, I hard a very hard time connecting with the author and her writing style. The writing isn’t necessarily bad, it just seems unpolished and perhaps like it should have gone through another round of editing. There are also a lot of very boring lists, such as paragraphs (yes, more than one) where Shea literally just lists names of magazines that her bookstore stocks.

Another issue I had was that Shea frequently brings up the point that bookstore patrons shouldn’t be judged for what they’re reading or buying, while at the same time she becomes judgemental about what people buy. It’s hypocritical and left a bad taste in my mouth. No one should be judged on their choice of reading material. One example of this is when a woman buys two copies of The Dual Disorders Recovery Book and Shea starts making jokes as soon as she walks out. Luckily this behavior isn’t returned by her co-worker. This was actually the biggest problem I had with the book and a large part of the reason I’m rating it two stars.

Finally, there was too much self-promotion in this book, where she writes about how she’d always put her own book front and center so that customers would see it, and far too many parts of this book end with her talking about how she’s an author.

There are a few bits and pieces of the book that’s interesting enough, but it’s definitely not a book I would recommend for someone to get a good idea of what it’s actually like working in a bookstore.

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Absolutely bookish.

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