The Diary Of A Bookseller Book Review – Shaun Bythell

At the moment, staying home is one of the best things we can do to protect public health. However, if you find yourself missing your local bookstore The Diary of A Bookseller by Shaun Bythell is the next best thing.

What is The Diary Of A Bookseller about?

The Diary Of A Bookseller is a memoir of a year in the life of Shaun Bythell, owner and manager of The Book Shop in Wigtown, Scotland. The Book Shop is the largest second-hand book store in Scotland.

In The Diary Of A Bookseller Bythell shares anecdotes from his day in The Book Shop, including his many varied experiences with customers both kind and rude. Till takings, online orders and the occasional photograph all offer the reader insight into the life of a bookseller.

What did I like about The Diary Of A Bookseller?

This book is one of my first foray’s into the memoir genre. I found it a delightful experience!

Bythell shares sharp insights on not only The Book Shop but also the humans that surround them. Upon reading his reflections on the railway section in the book shop and those that frequent it, I laughed out loud.

Despite the popular perception that books about trains are extremely dull (the reputation of trainspotters as banana-sandwich-eating, anorak-wearing bores is likely responsible for this), they are among the best-selling books in the shop. Invariably it is men who buy them, and more often than not they sport beards. They are generally among the most good natured of the shops customers, possibly because they’re delighted when they see the size of the railway section…

The Diary of A Bookseller – Shaun Bythell

The above quote was immediately shared with my father, who also found it entertaining, he himself being among the beard sporting railway fanatics. He and my mother now intend to visit Wigtown for The Book Shop in the hopes of browsing the railway section.

The Diary of A Bookseller is a joy to read.

What I didn’t like about The Diary Of A Bookseller?

Some readers may find Bythell’s comments around some of his customers to be rude. I personally did not find any comments particularly troublesome.

Often, as customers we feel it is in our rights to complain about unsatisfactory treatment within a store. Why should a bookseller or other retailer not have the right to complain when they themselves are unfairly treated?

Regardless, the Bythell doesn’t provide any details that might identify any of his rude customers, merely giving an account of their behavior in his shop.

I find his honest perspective refreshing!

My Recommendation

If you enjoy a quick, light and entertaining read The Diary of A Bookseller is one to check out. If you find yourself missing visiting the bookstore to select your books, order yourself a copy of The Diary of A Bookseller

Final Thoughts

The Diary of A Bookseller and it’s sequel Confessions Of A Bookseller have been picked up for development into a television series. I look forward to seeing The Diary of A Bookseller come to life on the screen.

Bythell is heavily involved in The Wigtown Book Festival which I now have a deep desire to attend, having read about it in The Diary of A Bookseller. If you want to find out more about the festival, head to their website here. This year the festival has needed to adapt due to the global pandemic. Nonetheless, the organizers have set up some fantastic online events you can check out.

If you want to see what The Book Shop, Wigtown looks like, head to their instagram @bookshopwigtown. Their website: or their Facebook page.

As all good book shops should, The Book Shop has a resident cat. His name is Captain, and he’s a bit on the rotund size, but adorable. If you need more evidence of this, just look at this photo from his own Instagram @captainthebookshopcat

Where can I get a copy of The Diary of a Bookseller?

This is the portion of the blog where I usually refer you to a link where you can buy this book online… in some store that rhymes with Shamazon. But considering Bythell’s total and utter disdain for that online retailer, I won’t do so today.

Instead, buy your book from an independent bookseller. Lots of independent booksellers have online options where you can order your books and support small business. If we want charming little bookstores to stay open we must try and support them where we can.

Here’s a link if you’d like to purchase some books online from The Bookshop, Wigtown.

I confess, I did borrow my digital copy from the library (as you may notice from the banner photo attached to the top of this blog) but having enjoyed the book so much I shall buy a physical copy.

Until Next Time

Tell me about a book shop you enjoy visiting in today’s comments. One of my favourites is Paradise Books in Daylesford.

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