Difficult customers, colorful employees and contempt for "monopolistic American booksellers driving the rest of us to penury": it's all here in Remainders of the Day, Shaun Bythell's third diary about his experiences running Scotland's largest secondhand bookshop. Fans of the first two books will be charmed once again by Bythell's snark and dedication.
In 2016, Bythell (Confessions of a Bookseller; The Diary of a Bookseller) still fulfills orders and manages his rotating staff, the former being particularly challenging after Amazon suspends his account as an affiliate. Among the people in this third diary are Petra, an Austrian woman who "leans heavily towards conspiracy theories"--aircraft vapor sends mind-control chemicals to earth, for instance--and who "is convinced that she can make a living in this impoverished corner of Scotland by teaching belly-dancing." Familiar figures are back, too. They include Emanuela, known as Granny, the young co-worker with whom Bythell exchanges raised middle fingers in greeting every morning; Sandy the tattooed pagan, who "claims to be the most tattooed man in Scotland"; and Anna, Bythell's American former partner. And then there are the customers: the man who is shocked to learn Bythell doesn't have a café ("So, no refreshments at all?") and the woman who chastises him because "you don't have any books about cooking with roadkill"--and who just happens to have written an "excellent one" she wants him to stock.
Bythell shares one anecdote after another, all of them written with his delightfully caustic touch. Just another year in Scotland's national book town. --Michael Magras, freelance book reviewer