Sunday 12 May 2024

Book Review: Welcome to the Hyunam-dong Bookshop by Hwang Bo-reum (Contemporary Fiction)

Welcome to the Hyunam-dong Bookshop
Hwang Bo-reum
307 pages
Contemporary Fiction
Borrowed from the Library 

There was only one thing on her mind.

'I must start a bookshop.'

Yeongju did everything she was supposed to, go to university, marry a decent man, get a respectable job. Then it all fell apart. Burned out, Yeongju abandons her old life, quits her high-flying career, and follows her dream. She opens a bookshop.

In a quaint neighbourhood 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.


Welcome to Hyunam-dong Bookshop was a sweet and thoughtful tale of people finding themselves again while gathering together and meeting new friends at the local bookshop. The descriptions of the bookshop made me wish it was a real place so I could visit when I next go to Seoul. It sounded like such a cozy, fun place. It was a fairly quick and easy read, but the characters were memorable and their situations provided food for thought, and the story ends on an uplifting, positive note. People who enjoyed Japanese novels alone the lines of Before the Coffee Gets Cold would likely find something to appreciate here, even though this book doesn't have any magical realism elements. I am giving it four stars and I would read more by this author in the future.

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