Welcome to the Hyunam-dong Bookshop

Books

A bookshop becomes an inspiration for transformation in this thought-provoking tale by author and essayist Hwang Bo-reum.

After she burns out from her intense career and divorces her controlling husband, Yeongju decides to find emotional fulfillment by pursuing her childhood dream of owning a bookshop. Although she finds the business aspect of running a bookshop more challenging than she expected, Yeongju discovers that she’s created a special space for thought, growth and connection with others. Included in the cast of characters who are inspired by Yeongju and her bookshop sanctuary are Minjun, a young man desperate for work after dropping out of university who becomes the shop’s barista; Jungsuh, a woman who quits her job because of its unfair policies and now spends her time crocheting at the store; and Seungwoo, an office worker-turned-author who hosts a writing workshop at the bookshop.

Welcome to the Hyunam-Dong Bookshop is a slice-of-life tale with appealing characters whose trials stay light on drama. Their stories explore aspects of Korean culture, including the expectation that children defer to their parents and wives to their husbands, and the value placed on success in work over the development of one’s inner life. While the prose is clear and uncluttered, at times the narrative can feel stilted and repetitive, although this may be an impact of the translation from the original Korean. Still, the messages about happiness and not wasting time in unsuitable and meaningless endeavors are uplifting and provide a cozy read. This title may be a match for fans of What You Are Looking For Is in the Library by Michiko Aoyama and Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi.

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