84, Charing Cross Road Helene Hanff
This is one of those books that always shows up on 1000 Books to Read Before You Die lists. It's been on my radar in that capacity for a long time, but at the same time, it's a series of letters between a writer and New York and a used bookstore in London. And it's not fiction. Really, 1000 Great Books?
But, I finally picked it up and read it.
Oh my God you guys... GO READ THIS BOOK.
First off, it's short. I mean, it's 112 pages long and the letters are short, so there's lots of white space. I read it in under two hours, and that was with a crazy 4-year-old running around me.
Second off, it's HILARIOUS. I mean, check out of how the letter from November 18, 1949 starts. There is no salutation, just the date and:
WHAT KIND OF A BLACK PROTESTANT BIBLE IS THIS?
Kindly inform the Church of England they have loused up the most beautiful prose ever written, whoever told them to tinker with the Vulgate Latin? They'll bur for it, you mark my workds.
It's nothing to me, I'm Jewish myself....
I enclose $4 to cover the #3.88 due you, buy yourself a cup of coffee with the $.12
Eventually through her book orders and resulting criticism, she becomes friends with everyone in the shop and starts sending regular holiday care packages with eggs and meat and other things that are still scarce due to post-war rationing.
I love the October 15, 1951 letter
WHAT KIND OF A PEPYS' DIARY TO YOU CALL THIS?
this is not pepys' diary, this is some busybody editor's miserable collection of EXCERPTS from pepys' diary may he rot.
PS. Fresh eggs or powdered for Xmas?
The letters keep original capitalization and punctuation. It's a great love letter to bookstores and books and a wonderful friendship and story that evolves. It's funny and heart-warming and utterly charming in a non-twee way.
GO READ IT.
Book Provided by... my local library
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