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In fact, as an environmentalist, I think the idea of paper books are kind of outdated, much as I personally love them.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.