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Available 4.15.24


Welcome to the Hyunam-dong Bookshop

Welcome to the Hyunam-dong Bookshop, February 2024
by Hwang Bo-reum

Bloomsbury Publishing
320 pages
ISBN: 163973242X
EAN: 9781639732425
Kindle: B0CM8YVL18
Hardcover / e-Book
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"A life affirming conversation with a side of Books"

Fresh Fiction Review

Welcome to the Hyunam-dong Bookshop
Hwang Bo-reum

Reviewed by Bharti C
Posted February 18, 2024

Women's Fiction Contemporary | New Adult

WELCOME TO THE HYUNAM-DONG BOOKSHOP by Hwang Bo-Reum. This is my first read by the author and I loved the story - no complaints. 

Last year I read Days at the Morisaki Bookshop, which is also set in a bookshop, something is compelling about such stories. I feel an intrinsic pull toward them and get curious about everything they promise and stand for. 

The combination of books, independent bookshops whose owners have always had a dream of opening a bookshop without having any idea about the business end of it; is a dream many harbour deep in their hearts and only a few honest and courageous ones get to live their dreams in all it's glory and gory too.

WELCOME TO THE HYUNAM-DONG BOOKSHOP is set in a residential area of Seoul, Korea. Yeongju, (pronounced Jan-dzu, as per my Google searches) is in her 30s, burnt out from her job as a company employee which she started right out of college and also from her marriage to Chang-in. As she gradually feels alienated from her job and marriage she wishes to leave it all behind and live her childhood dream of being surrounded by books. After all the frustration, and disassociation with life as she knew it, Yeongju finally decides she wants to and will open a bookshop. She makes a plan and believes she can manage to survive as a shop owner for around 2 years. 

Once decided, things fall into place and she opens doors to the Hyunam-Dong Bookshop. Initially, as she has no experience of being a shopkeeper with only her love of reading and books she stumbles a lot along the way. Slowly, curiosity and the unbearable melancholic atmosphere, the passerby experience from the bookshop window, pull the residents in. Together with the owner, they create a space they all want to be in and make it a community and beyond, a popular and loved bookshop. 

The book reads like a well-thought, free-flowing conversation - individual and group, it is both inner dialogue and conversations between the people who come in the door of the bookshop. The characters of the story from the central Yeongju to her staff and the bookshop regulars each tell their story, what makes them how they are. In doing so they all form friendships and a community of fellow people who are at a point in their lives where they are asking themselves the deep, important, contemplative life questions. 

There are many books written in the genres, of coming-of-age and midlife crisis, but this is neither as per my sensibilities. I see it more as a what comes next, how the person does after the crisis, how they pick up the pieces, forge a new life and learn along the way. It is much more interesting and satisfying to witness this journey. 

It is what gives you comfort and courage and hope to do the same or reassurance that you are not alone, there will be someone who'll walk the same path as you. You understand that it's ok to be unsure, to stand out, to feel exactly like you're feeling and not follow the exact path society or someone else set for you. The story shows you how it's good and sometimes necessary to forgive yourself for not fitting into cliches. It gives you the permission to sometimes prioritise yourself and create a space where you do good for yourself and as a result maybe for the people around you as well. 

The intense, emotional, tough and a bit of the mundane life admin questions and topics are dealt with such simple beauty that it's easy to digest and open your mind to possibilities. Even if you do not want or see the need for any change in the way you live, this book will give you a calming, fuzzy, warm feelings aftertaste. 

I absolutely loved WELCOME TO THE HYUMAM-DONG BOOKSHOP. Something is life-affirming about the story and its characters that will stay with me, in my heart and thoughts. It is the kind of book that will feel new and exciting every time you read it, definitely a plus for books in today's times. 

I sincerely wish for everyone to read this book once. To sum it up it's:

- Korean Fiction

- set in a bookshop

- there's good coffee

- a bit of everything book-related

- great conversations

- drama free

- a boost for your dreams and thoughts, especially if they involve books. 

Happy Reading.

Learn more about Welcome to the Hyunam-dong Bookshop

SUMMARY

The Korean smash hit available for the first time in English, a slice-of-life novel for readers of Matt Haig's The Midnight Library and Gabrielle Zevin's The Storied Life of AJ Fikry.

Yeongju is burned out. She did everything she was supposed to: go to school, marry a decent man, get a respectable job. Then it all fell apart. In a leap of faith, Yeongju abandons her old life, quits her high-flying career, and follows her dream. She opens a bookshop. In a quaint neighborhood in Seoul, surrounded by books, Yeongju and her customers take refuge. From the lonely barista to the unhappily married coffee roaster-and the writer who sees something special in Yeongju-they all have disappointments in their past. The Hyunam-dong Bookshop becomes the place where they all learn how to truly live.

A heartwarming story about finding acceptance in your life and the healing power of books, Welcome to the Hyunam-dong Bookshop is a gentle reminder that it's never too late to scrap the plot and start again.


What do you think about this review?

Comments

1 comment posted.

Re: A life affirming conversation with a side of Books

I just realised my typo in the review above, it's
20's and not 30's, in the 4th paragraph, 4th Line.
Apologies for the mistake.
(Bharti C 2:03pm February 18)

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