Unlike many writers who worry about the integrity of a book being irrevocably altered, I don’t mind a film adaptation. Of course, I generally feel the books are better. But film is a different medium, and demands different things of a work. And there are lots of great movies (and more recently, TV shows) that honor the spirit of the books they’ve adapted. There’s also the fact that movies can draw attention to an excellent book that has been otherwise neglected by readers.
So while others might be shocked by the audacity of the filmmakers recreating Penelope Fitzgerald’s The Bookshop, I’m thrilled. I love Fitzgerald’s books. And this particular film might just do double-duty, reminding us not only of a great literary voice but also of those oftentimes unknown individuals who devote their lives to books: bookshop owners.
My guess is more of Fitzgerald’s books have been sold in actual brick and mortar stores than on Amazon. And despite all the predictions about digital media killing the indie bookstore, local bookstores from my perspective, are experiencing a golden age. When I travel, I seek out these shops. On vacation in the Adirondacks this summer, I discovered The Bookstore Plus. Whenever I visit cities in which I’d resided, I visit bookstores; Harvard Bookstore and Politics and Prose are just a couple of those.
Here in the Tampa Bay Area, there is a growing literary scene. Whenever I’m in Tampa, I visit Inkwood Books. And here in St Petersburg I’ve been ordering again and again from Tombolo Books, and am always happy to see their pop-ups around town. I’m eagerly awaiting the day they’ll have a permanent shop location.
My first bookstore was Talking Leaves in Buffalo, NY. As a sometimes lonely and isolated teenager, this place offered no small degree of solace for me. Bookstores–like their publicly-funded siblings, libraries–connect communities, not only physically, but through the shared love of the written word. It’s not hyperbolic to say that books save people. I know they’ve saved me.