07 March 2014

Review: The Haunted Bookshop | Christopher Morley

The Haunted Bookshop by Christopher Morley attracted my attention by its presence on so many 'books about books' or 'books for booklovers' lists that I decided to give it a go.

Roger Mifflin is the owner of a second hand bookstore, aptly named 'The Haunted Bookshop' because he is haunted by the ghosts of the books he hasn't read.  Sadly, this is where the brilliance ended for me.

There were many opportunities during the slim novel for Mifflin to spout on about the importance and art of the bookseller, the significance of books and reading and his belief that if only the population would read certain (mentioned) books, there would never be another Great War in the world.

Incidentally, I only realised after finishing The Haunted Bookshop that it was published in 1919.  This was a complete surprise to me as it truly felt like an historical fiction novel, not one written almost 100 years ago.

Mifflin mentions so many books and written works throughout The Haunted Bookshop that I alternated between feeling illiterate and ignorant and believing the protagonist (if not the author himself) was a bit of a snob.

I did however, enjoy the following quote immensely:

"It saddens me to think that I shall have to die with thousands of books unread that would have given me noble and unblemished happiness."  Pages 153-154


I also learned two new words on page 202:
  1. bibliosoph is 'someone who knows about books.'
  2. Bibliomania is 'an excessive fondness for acquiring and possessing books'.

Despite these pearls, the novel's sole purpose seemed to be giving a voice to Roger Mifflin and his world of books and bookselling.

My rating = **


Carpe Librum!

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