Two lovable books – recommended for reading

dk. Petra Hartlieb was born in Munich in 1967 and grew up in Austria. She has written a delightful little novel called “Meine wundervolle Buchhandlung” (My wonderful bookstore). In it, she describes her own story to a certain extent. The first-person narrator and her husband Oliver both give up their well-paid jobs in Hamburg and take over a small traditional bookstore in the Old Town of Vienna. There are many difficulties in running the business and building a customer base, including the need to fight competition from the Internet. It takes a long time for the bookshop to become financially viable to some extent. With a great deal of dedication, they look after customers, fulfil even the most unusual book requests, hold readings, run book stands, employ apprentices who they introduce to the world of books, and much more. They sometimes work to exhaustion and earn almost nothing. In spite of everything, the two do not give up because their love for books and friendship with their customers become their elixir of life. Many neighbours and friends help out, and as time goes by the bookshop becomes a meeting place for young and old, so that the two of them don’t want to give up at any price. The book is highly recommended as an enjoyable holiday reading.
Another recommendable book was written by the Englishwoman Jenny Colgan, which can be read in the English original or in German translation. It is entitled: “Die kleine Bäckerei am Strandweg” (Little Beach Street Bakery). Together with her husband, Polly runs a successful graphic design company in Plymouth. But in 2008, in the aftermath of the banking crisis, the company goes bankrupt and at the same time the marriage broke up. Polly was faced with the ruins. Where and how can she start afresh? By chance she discovers an ad that a small house by the sea in the tranquil Cornwall is for rent. Although her girlfriend thinks she’s crazy, she rents this house and moves to Mount Polbearne in the countryside. She tries to build a new existence there. This succeeds despite initial concerns, namely, she discovers that her home-baked bread tastes very good to the villagers. Polly learns about the hard life of the fishermen and how difficult it is for the people of Cornwall to find a job and survive financially. They often lead a depriving life. Although her city friends rather pity her, Polly likes this life in the unmistakable nature and makes many new friends. These are the fisherman Tarnie and his crew, the beekeeper Huckle or Muriel from the village shop. A small puffin, which she finds injured and cares for, also grows close to her heart. It becomes exciting and also dramatic when an accident at sea occurs, and in love there are manifold entanglements. The reader can be told that the story has a happy ending and he can look forward to reading it.    •

Hardlieb, Petra. Meine wundervolle Buchhandlung. DuMont Buchverlag Cologne, 2014
Colgan, Jenny. Die kleine Bäckerei am Strandweg. Berlin Verlag 2016 or The Little Beach Street Bakery, Sphere Books UK, 2014