I love bookshops. My first job out of college was my dream job (except it didn’t pay enough to live on) at a large bookstore in an old building. It smelled like books, and the wooden floors creaked. I learned to find and recommend books in every section of the store. We were allowed to check out bestsellers, too, so we could become familiar with the stock. The best part about working there was the 30% discount! Here’s a list of books set in bookshops. Enjoy!
The Boardwalk Bookshop by Susan Mallery
“A book begging to be read on the beach, with the sun warming the sand and salt in the air: pure escapism.”~ Kirkus
This is a contemporary romance billed as a beach read. It looks very appealing as I write this in the midst of the heaviest rainstorm California has had in recent memory. Two ideas in the description of this book appealed to me. First, it’s about friends who become family. Love that. Second, the friends have a glass of champagne every Friday as they watch the sun set on the beach in front of their bookstore. What a lovely image.
The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George
“Internationally bestselling and filled with warmth and adventure, The Little Paris Bookshop is a love letter to books, meant for anyone who believes in the power of stories to shape people’s lives.” ~ from the book description
Also a contemporary romance, this one captivated me instantly with the idea of a bookshop on a floating barge along the Seine. The main character travels along the river, matching people to the books they need. In the process, of course, he manages to find exactly what he needs. Another book with a fabulous bookstore image.
The Mayfair Bookshop by Eliza Knight
“The Mayfair Bookshop is a moving, touching tale of a Bright Young Thing turned bookseller/author and her quest to find fulfillment, inspiration, and love in the chaos of the WWII home front. Eliza Knight brings Nancy Mitford to life as an appealing and uncertain young heroine in the days before she is burnished by fame and success—you cannot help but cheer her toward her destiny!” ~ Kate Quinn, New York Times bestselling author of The Rose Code
A London bookshop connects the dual timelines in this historical novel. In the 1930’s timeline, socialite Nancy Mitford escapes the problems of her very public life by getting a job in the Heywood Hill Bookshop. In modern day, a book curator gets a job at the same bookstore and sets about trying to find the meaning behind an inscription in a first edition of Mitford’s book.
The Little French Bookshop by Cecile Pivot
“A letter writing workshop. Five strangers. Countless secrets bursting in between the pages.” ~ book description
This novel is billed as friendship fiction. I’d call it contemporary, but who writes letters any more? Still, the idea of a bookseller hosting a letter writing workshop is appealing. Within those letters, an elderly lady, a disillusioned businessman, a disheartened couple and an awkward teenager become unlikely friends as they share about themselves and seek advice. I’m not sure what the relevance of the bookshop itself is in this novel as the letters seem to be the overwhelming theme.
The Bookseller of Inverness by S. G. MacLean
“A gripping historical thriller set in Inverness in the wake of the 1746 battle of Culloden” ~ book description
Iain survived Culloden by pretending to be dead. Six years later, he’s selling books in Inverness when a mysterious stranger comes in. He browses but refuses to say what he’s looking for. The next day, Iain finds the man dead in his store. Iain, of course, becomes tangled up in secrets and old scores to be settled. Reviewers say this is a fast-paced page turner.
The Paris Bookseller by Kerri Maher
“The emotional depth that Maher gives to historical figures who have achieved almost mythological status in our cultural ethos is riveting and leaves readers with a lingering sense of familiarity that won’t soon be forgotten.”
~ Manhattan Book Review
Yes, a third book set in a Paris bookstore! This is a biographical historical novel about an American who opens Shakespeare and Company in Paris. It’s a bookstore, lending library, and gathering place for the Lost Generation. When James Joyce’s Ulysses is banned, Shakespeare and Company publishes it. A hullabaloo ensues.
Bloomsbury Girls by Natalie Jenner
“An illuminating yarn… Fans of emotional historical fiction will be charmed.” ~ Publishers Weekly
As historical women’s fiction, this one is a keeper. It’s set in a hundred-year-old bookshop run by men, led by the manager’s fifty-one firm rules. It’s 1950, though, and three women decide they need to have a say in updating the store and its events. They interact with literary people every day, building new relationships and dreams.
The Wartime Bookshop by Lesley Eames
“A delightful wartime saga about a young girl making a difference in her new village… a story that illustrates how kindness and refusing to give up can change so much. It is also a sweet love story… Beautiful book and I loved it” ~ Rosie Clarke, author of the Mulberry Lane series
This is the first in a historical series of Wartime Bookshop books. It introduces us to three women who have hidden secrets. They bond over opening a bookshop in a rural English village. So much here to love with village life, very different women who grow close as they get to know each other, and, of course, a bookstore!
The Bookstore on the Beach by Brenda Novak
“A heart-tugging romance. Readers are sure to be sucked in.” ~Publishers Weekly, starred review
Another contemporary romance set in a bookstore at the beach! This one involves a mom and her teenage daughter who return to the beachside town where Mom grew up. There they help Grandma and Aunty run the family bookstore. The intergenerational dynamics promise entertainment as secrets are revealed, and the setting is a win.
The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan
“Colgan’s latest gently acknowledges the UK’s recent library funding problem as well as the new roles libraries are assuming. Scotland is a bonny setting for this funny, winsome novel.” ~ Library Journal
Jenny Colgan actually has an entire series about Scottish bookstores, including The Bookshop on the Shore and The Christmas Bookshop. This one is a contemporary romance where the main character has a bookmobile. I have fond memories of the bookmobile from my childhood, and this seems like a land version of The Little Paris Bookshop.
The Bookshop of Secrets by Mollie Rushmeyer
“A collection of lost books holds the clues to her family’s legacy…and her future.” ~ book description
Contemporary Christian fiction, this novel has the main character going to another town to search through a dusty old bookshop for her mother’s books. While looking for answers to her own secrets, she discovers people in the town that work their way into her heart.
The Forgotten Bookshop in Paris by Daisy Wood
“From an exciting new voice in WWII historical fiction comes a tale of love, loss and a betrayal that echoes through generations.” ~ book description
Paris must be full of bookshops. This is the fourth one on this list! It’s a dual timeline historical novel. In the 1940 plot, a bookseller watches the Nazis move into Paris and must keep his shop safe. In the modern plot, a woman discovers the bookshop abandoned and for sale. It, of course, becomes her life’s obsession as she uncovers the store’s secrets and finds her own healing.
The Bookseller’s Secret by Michelle Gable
“The Bookseller’s Secret is a delight from start to finish, a literary feast any booklover will savor!” ~ Kate Quinn, New York Times bestselling author of The Rose Code
I know this is Number Thirteen in an article about a dozen, but I couldn’t leave one out! Like The Mayfair Bookshop, this one is historical fiction that tells the story of Nancy Mitford. It’s a sort of dual timeline, one in 1942 and one in 1950. It tells of Nancy’s time managing the Heywood Hill bookshop, and the pressure put on her to write a wartime novel. Much later, the hunt is on for a copy of that novel.
Linda Ulleseit is the award-winning author of The Aloha Spirit and Under the Almond Trees. Her next historical novel, The River Remembers, will be published in 2023. To interact with her and other historical fiction authors and readers, join PLW’s Facebook group SHINE.
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