Latest local releases reviewed by the Yellow Lighted Bookshop
The first ever agony uncle was a bookseller, John Dunton, who in 1691 started an advice column in a journal called The Athenian Gazette. The column thrived, and shortly afterwards a rival publication, The Lacedemonian Mercury, was launched, and as they say, the rest is history.
These journals were used, not only for helping out with the customary ‘my wife doesn’t understand me’ type questions, but pretty much anything and everything. Is there a God? Can a man know when he dreams or is really awake? Were there any men before Adam? And so on.
The world has moved on over the last 300 years. Everything is done via the internet, and Google and Wikipedia can give you the answer to any question in seconds. Except, of course, they can’t.
What Google and Wikipedia and all the rest give you (if you’re lucky), are facts. Yet as any bookseller will tell you, a fact is not an answer. For answers you need human interaction, a context and a warmth. Which is why, despite everything, the printed word, bookshops and booksellers are still important. We understand the questions we are asked in ways the online world cannot imagine (because it – obviously – has no imagination). We have a human passion to help our customers that no screen could could attempt. And we are better equipped because with all the resources of the world – and our own humanity – we know that the real answer to a question is just as likely to be a work of fiction on a page, as any pixellated fact.