I’m pretty sure I haven’t ever read a Susan Wiggs novel before this one. I was pleasantly surprised. Of course, this novel had me at bookshop (as they all do!) and even though I’ve had an ARC of this book for months, I finally decided to finish it today, after stopping and starting a few times a few months ago.
I’ll confess I was cruising along with my books, and suddenly this past week I hit a wall again. Just couldn’t get through anything. So I am glad I picked this back up again, because I hit that magical place in the book that had me focusing in and forgetting about anything for awhile. Even though I didn’t do anything for July 4th but stay home and cook out, I was still feeling a bit of a holiday hangover today. After watering my flowers outside and getting laundry started, I was happy to just stay inside and read.
This novel really is a nod to booklovers everywhere. Natalie Harper grew up in a bookstore; her mother Blythe operates a family bookshop in a building that has been in the Harper family for 100 years-a coveted building in fashionable San Francisco. After a horrible tragedy, Natalie returns to San Francisco and the bookshop, to take stock of its future, and to take care of Grandy, her grandfather. He’d recently fallen and broken his hip and was now showing signs of early dementia. Natalie had been successful at a wine brokerage firm and while she didn’t love her job, she was good at it. But it wasn’t hard to leave and return, if only to help her Grandy take care of next steps.
Those next steps aren’t as easy as Natalie expects, when she finds out her Grandy owns the building and the bookstore, and will not sell, even after Natalie realizes they are deep in debt and behind on taxes. What’s a bookstore manager to do, but try and build up the business with a huge author event that could help pay bills and give the store much needed advertising?
Natalie also meets Peach Gallagher, a local “hammer guy” who specializes in fixing old buildings. Her mother had arranged for Peach to fix a few things in the building, and Peach is one good looking man. He’s also a really decent man, with an adorable daughter who frequents the bookstore. His friendly and calm attitude helps Natalie as she struggles between grief, understanding her grandfather’s failing health, and the tough decisions she has to make.
So we’ve got a few things running through this story: the struggle to save the bookstore, an ailing grandfather, a potential romance, and a story that’s been handed down over the generations about a treasure that’s hidden somewhere in the building, left by Grandy’s grandmother, who died in the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. Is it just a fanciful story, or is there treasure lurking somewhere-treasure that could save the business?
I read this novel pretty quickly, and enjoyed it very much. No surprises, just a gentle unfolding of the story. I loved all the book references, and the peeks into what it takes to run a bookstore. Definitely a good vacation book!
This book is out in the U.S. on July 7th in hardcover, ebook, and audio.
Rating: 4/6 for an enjoyable novel about life when it makes a few sharp turns, the importance of family, and of course, the life changing magic of books. Some parts made me a little teary-eyed, so you may need a tissue!
Abandon the "wanting" mind
Words and image design by Brian Thompson.
Words and image design by Brian Thompson.
Abandon the “wanting” mind. Drop your desires, one by one.
Let each craving dissolve, as they arise—knowing that the fulfilment they promise is nothing but a worldly lie. Pleasure is fleeting; it is impermanent. You cannot keep it or even maintain it. You can find no peace in forever chasing things which you can’t catch.
Lasting happiness cannot be found through attaining any object, or in having any experience, or in achieving any goal, or in earning any recognition.
Nothing lasts—nothing but awareness.
All things are limited and relative. But, to whom are they relative?For whom do such things and experiences temporarily appease? Who is the real “you” who wants them, who feels as if they need them to be happy, or who self-identifies with what they seem to promise?
All such attainments “of the world” will only briefly satisfy the restless mind who self-identifies with what it believes it lacks. A mind focused on what it thinks it needs will never be content.
As soon as one desire is satisfied, the seeking mind will then chase the next thing it wants, which is whatever it perceives it lacks. The sense of lack never ends. Once believed in, it perpetuates itself, and since it is entirely conceptual, it is infinite—and so is the delusion.
There is no end to that which you believe you don’t have. And, once you self-identify yourself with this nonsense, it (the feeling of dissatisfaction and despair) will seem to permeate your entire being.
When you live in such a way, your whole existence is then defined by whatever you believe you lack—including happiness, self-worth, confidence, peace, love, contenment, and joy.
Drop out of the game entirely. No longer seek anything at all. Free yourself from your imagined self.
Surrender the contents of mind to your awareness of it.
Just be as you are, here and now—empty of wanting, empty of searching, devoid of thinking about your self-ideas entirely. Be empty—empty even of the sense of emptiness itself, for that too is nothing but a state of lack from which all unease grows.
All states of mind are a delusion—transcend them all. Be of no-mind. When there is no mind, there is no problem. The mind will continue to happen, just as the wind will continue to blow—but it will no longer have any effect upon you—as you will know yourself as its selfless witness, consciousness itself.
Allow life to flow through you, as it already does. Observe this. Know this. There is nothing to be kept; there is nothing to “be” or to “have” other than this essence of Beingness that you are—that IS the entirety of this precise moment, as it is presently unfolding. You are forever this invisible and limitless awareness that is the knowledge of all “things”, and yet, is beyond them all.
Rest in your effortless Self—the presence of being that is the very suchness in which this moment called Now is forever flavoured. You are like the sweetness contained within sugar—an invisible essence that permeates it, and yet, cannot be found—it can only be tasted.
So, just taste your beingness—don’t try to comprehend it.
Don’t try to contain it or bottle it within a concept. The mind is limited, but you are not. You are the infinite Absolute Reality.
Marinate peacefully in this Knowingness that you are the most subtle of the subtle; That which is at the heart of all that is known—the river of consciousness itself—the sense that permeates all that arises with this presence that is, I Am.
Realize that any “thing” arising within the absolute reality of your awareness is nothing but an illusion of relative experience whose absolute truth is inherently unreal.
No longer grasp at such mental projections of the mind which you call your “self” or the world. Just leave all such concepts alone. They are empty, unworthy of belief or emotional attention.
Just abide in the noticing of whatever appears, remaining content in your effortless Being of choiceless awareness.
Transcend all thought. Let go and Be what you already are.