Title: Shelf Life: Fantastic Stories Celebrating Bookstores
Publisher: Prime Books
Pub Date: October 03, 2012
ISBN: 9781607013587
Author: Ramsey Campbell
Category: FICTION – ADULT: Science Fiction & Fantasy: Fantasy
With: Charles De Lint
With: Gene Wolfe
With: Harlan Ellison
With: Jack Williamson
With: Nina Kiriki Hoffman

Marketing Copy:

An anthology of science fiction, fantasy, and horror stories, each with a bookstore at its core. Stories by Ramsey Campbell, Charles de Lint, Harlan Ellison, Nina Kiriki Hoffman, Jack Williamson, Gene Wolfe, and more, with an introduction by Neil Gaiman.

My Review:

I have to say this as the first thing – the marketing copy for this book does not do it justice.  There are some great writers in this crowd that have been missed being included on the cover.  The idea of writing stories about bookshops grabbed my attention instantly.  I love those dusty, dusky places where the walls are lined with thousand of books whether they are new or old.  That smell that comes from walking into a second hand bookstore sends tingles down my spine.  What treasure will I find today?

For me there were a couple of early stand-out stories – of which one of those authors is not in the list.  I will list the stories and my couple of favourites:

“From the Cradle” by Gene Wolfe

Was floored by this story.  As a short story, it seemed to have another two or three stories within it.  The writing was elegant, quite beautiful and flowed like the sea.  Just amazing to read.

“A Book by its Cover” by P.D. Cacek

I have not read P. D. Cacek before, but after this story, I am definitely looking her up.  I do not like war stories, but this one was very different.  Your favourite book hiding you away – what a wonderful idea and well executed.

“The Hemingway Kittens” by A.R. Morland

Old fashioned bookstores and cats seem to go together, but this one weaves them in a new way.  Very nicely done.

“Lost Books” by John J. Miller

This one meandered a bit too much for me.

“One Copy Only” by Ramsey Campbell

“Pixel Pixies” by Charles de Lint

I enjoy Charles de Lint’s wandering style and this is another excellent example of it – oh and pixies.

“Blind Stamped” by Lisa Morton

If cats are part of the bookstore, then ghosts must be too.  All those old books contain there own ghosts, but this one goes a little further.  Nicely done.

“Shakespeare & Co.” by Jack Williamson

I usually like Jack Williamson, but not this time.

“Ballard’s Books” by Gerard Houarner

Reading cannot be the only thing in your life.  Find out why here!

“Books” by David Bischoff

My mum said ‘if you can’t think of something nice to say…’  So I’ll say nothing.

“Escapes” by Nina Kiriki Hoffman

Books are about escaping, and sometimes we have a reason to want to escape.

“I am looking for a Book…” by Patrick Weekes

A funny little story that made me chuckle quietly to myself.

“The Glutton” by Melanie Tem

This story is on a par with Gene Wolfe’s.  Both beautiful and bot brilliantly written.

“In the Bookshadow” by Marianne de Pierres

I once ran my own business, so I know about those regulars that come into your shop.  This has an interesting twist on that concept.

“Non-Returnable” by Rick Hautala

Um, no.

“The Cheese Stands Alone” by Harlan Ellison

Typical Ellison.  Great but felt rough around the edges at time, but still worth the read.

My Rating:

4 bookshelves out of 5.