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Back in the days before the internet, voracious readers depended on brick-and-mortar bookstores to find books. Voracious readers like Helene Hanff (author of this completely charming book) with a particular interest in rarer, older titles, relied on brick-and-mortar bookstores in other cities, in this case, Marks & Company in London. Back in the days before e-mail, voracious readers ordering books from out-of-town brick-and-mortar bookstores had to do so by letter.
The result of all this is a book that contains twenty years of correspondence between Helene Hanff, voracious reader, and Frank Doel, bookseller. Before long a pen-pal friendship begins between the letter-writers. You may not think that a book of letters about buying books would be that interesting, but I promise you this book is wonderful. Hanff is quite hilarious, and the contrast between her energetic letters and the more prim Mr. Doel makes for an entertaining read.
If you like it, try the movie version, starring Anne Bancroft and Anthony Hopkins, or the sequel, The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street, in which Hanff travels to London to see Marks & Company in person.
Recommended by Catherine