The Last Bookstore in America by Amy Stewart: Video Book Review

by Genevieve on July 5, 2009

OK, so this isn’t strictly gardening, but all ya’ll should know by now what a rabid fan of Amy Stewart I am. I love her writing on Garden Rant, I love Wicked Plants and the rest of her non-fiction books, and I love her chicken paintings. So when I heard she had released her new novel, The Last Bookstore in America, on the iPhone or the Kindle, and on Scrib’d, I knew I had to read it.

This was a cracking good read. As a Kindle owner, I was fascinated by the premise – a world with a Kindle-like device which is so great it obliterates the printed book, and nobody’s disappointed about it, either.

Against this backdrop, Lewis and Emily inherit one of the last five bookstores in America from Lewis’ eccentric Uncle Sy, and they travel to sleepy Humboldt County, CA to check out this romantic relic of a bookstore.

Unfortunately, the bookstore isn’t actually selling books anymore, at least not in the way we’re used to. People come into the bookstore and request a book in a certain price range, rather than browsing the stacks for something interesting, and the real product being sold is the fine Humboldt strain of marijuana that’s slipped into the bag with the book.

In real life, Humboldt County is the country’s biggest producer of marijuana, so as a resident of the county, it wasn’t any surprise to me to learn how the bookstore was really staying alive! We have so many stores that are obviously a front for another type of business, so this wasn’t a stretch for my imagination.

The book itself was beautifully crafted – I loved the characters, the setting and details were so easy to imagine, and the writing was witty and full of personality. On the Kindle, you can highlight your favorite parts, and I found myself highlighting every other page through the entire book – there were so many gorgeous snippets of perfect writing throughout.

While you may find the premise of a world without books and with marijuana hard to believe, it wasn’t a stretch for me. I read this book on my Kindle in the county the book is set in, so the concept of nearly-legal pot and digital books replacing the dead-tree versions wasn’t hard to imagine.

In fact, as an environmentalist, I think the idea of paper books are kind of outdated, much as I personally love them. It seems like we’re moving forward into a world with clean and cheap energy, and in the future, it’s going to seem irresponsible to cut down trees to read when we could use a few cents’ worth of clean energy instead.

Anyway, if you’re a fan of Amy’s non-fiction about gardening and the outdoor world, you are going to love this book. There’s some of the best garden writing and imagery in this book that I have read anywhere, and the rest of the book was so full of liveliness and personality that you’re sure to love it as much as I did.  Go pick up your copy here or here.

And once you finish, join the discussion at Amy’s site by going to www.LastBookstoreInAmerica.com. Give feedback on the book and become part of the community by sharing what you think about digital media, legalization, and the demise of the paper book.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Josh July 6, 2009 at 11:50 pm

Hi Genevieve, I love the video book review. A great complement to the plain old written review. You don’t get cameos from a cat and three chickens on paper. I so covet the Kindle. I’ll download this new book onto my iPhone. I heard Amy Stewart read from Wicked Plants last month. She was great. I’m reading Flower Confidential now. Very good stuff. Best, Josh

Josh’s last blog post..Salsa Victory Garden at the Marin County Fair

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Susan Morrison(garden-chick) July 12, 2009 at 2:56 pm

Very cool, Gen! I don’t have a kindle but am starting to consider it. My sister has one and is obnoxiously show-offy with it. Do you think a garden book would work in this format? The pleasure of paging through gorgeous pictures of plants and gardens makes me wonder.

On a completely irrelevant note, I can’t believe how much your voice sounds like mine! Are you shocked whenever you hear a recording of yourself? In my head, my voice sounds much deeper!
.-= Susan Morrison(garden-chick)´s last blog ..If the 50 Foot Woman had a Garden… =-.

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Genevieve July 14, 2009 at 7:24 am

Josh – I envy you reading Amy’s books for the first time, and yeah – isn’t she great in person? If you covet my Kindle, I covet your iphone. The service here for the iphone is lousy, though – maybe someday it will improve!

Hey Susan! No, gardening books are one of those places where the book has the kindle totally hands-down beat. The kindle displays photos gorgeously, like WAY better than a newspaper, but the whole black and white thing cramps my gardening-book style. I’m anxiously awaiting the color Kindle. THEN it’ll have the book beat. My wrists get sore holding up a 500 page glossy book!

That’s funny about our voices!! You’ve got to do some video so I can hear!!

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