The Bookseller

The Bookseller

A Novel

eBook - 2015
Average Rating:
Rate this:
"A provocative and hauntingly powerful debut novel that will keep you turning pages into the early hours, The Bookseller follows a woman in the 1960s who wrestles to reconcile her daily life as a single bookstore owner with the alternate reality she suddenly begins to dream about each night, in which she is a happily-married wife and mother"-- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York : Harper, [2015]
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780062333025
Characteristics: 1 online resource


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment

AL_JENNY Apr 13, 2017

A thought provoking story about how our choices frame our lives.

Mar 07, 2017

Great story !! This is one of those novels that you must read. Loveit !!

AL_KATI Feb 18, 2017

Recently reread "The Bookseller" and it was just as good the second time around. Loved the characters and trying to figure out which life was the real life.

Edward J Crowell
Nov 16, 2016

Lynda read in 2015 and Bree is reading in 2016

EKGO Jul 26, 2016

Kitty lives in Denver in the ‘60’s and owns a bookstore with her friend. Something Wicked This Way Comes has just been released. At night, however, Kitty becomes Katherine in her dreams and her life is as different as possible from her quiet bookish existence. As her day life and dream life begin to vie for prominence, Kitty is forced to question reality and the effects of trauma on one's psyche.

It’s funny how many of the things referenced in this story aren’t there anymore. Rocky Mountain News. Vogue theater. MayD&F! “Monkey” Wards. Stapleton Airport. There’s still a bookstore, though:

Here’s where Kitty lives, in general. Her fictional street would be here:,-104.952828,16.75z

Since I live near Denver, I had fun remembering things I'd forgotten, looking up areas, trying to figure out where she was and what she was seeing. I don't know that this will matter as much to readers not familiar with the area.

I was a little thrown out of the story by the over-exuberant commentary on racism. The kid next door talks about Willie Mayes and how the color of his skin shouldn’t matter, it’s his skills as a baseball player that are important. At a dream party, Katherine expounds on how uncomfortable she is with colored help and then thinks to herself that she was raised to go out of her way to treat non-white people the same as she treats white people, her dad worked with black people and her mom took care of babies of all colors, etc. While these revelations are not wrong, the method in which they are delivered is forced and it made me hyper-aware that I was reading a story, rather than experiencing it.

All in all, I think many will enjoy this book, especially those who have a more than passing familiarity with Denver. The premise is intriguing, it's written well enough, but there are going to be some readers, like me, who grow frustrated and bored with the story before it ends.

Dec 18, 2015

Cynthia Swanson’s debut novel brings a new twist, deftly written, to a well worn familiar theme: What would my life be like if I had made a different choice?

Kitty, a contentedly single bookshop owner, dreams every night that she is married to a perfect husband and raising triplets. Her dreams are detailed and realistic, so much so that I immediately began to question which of the parallel story lines was “real life” and which was the product of Kitty’s rich imagination.

Even though the theme seemed familiar, I was drawn into the story and felt compelled to keep turning pages when my own real life clearly needed my attention. No dishes were washed today, no laundry was done; I started The Bookseller after breakfast and finished it shortly before the six o’clock news.

Swanson is a gifted writer. Kitty’s story is told in the first person, often in the present tense, and the reader is able to feel her confusion and fear, to live for a time inside her skin. You can ask no more than that from any novel.

The only jarring note, for me, was the author’s choice of time frame. The novel is set in Denver of the early sixties and references are made throughout to paint a picture of life at that time and place. A younger reader might find all the unnecessary details about green bathroom fixtures, fruit designs on the kitchen wallpaper, and the Cuban missile crisis intriguing. But I actually remember the time, and it sometimes seemed forced, and as I said, unnecessary.

Nevertheless, I’m giving The Bookseller five stars because it is so well written and entertaining. I recommend it to Book clubs – the story will spark discussion about women’s roles, parenting, autism, the rise of suburbs and loss of vibrant downtown districts, women’s friendships, mother-daughter relationships, and perhaps, even the Cuban missile crisis.

CLevelandBill Dec 05, 2015

So I was wandering through the library stacks and I spotted a novel called The Bookseller by Cynthia Swanson and since I am a fan of books about book stores I thought that I would give it a try. And was I glad that I did. Well written with an intriguing plot, it’s a book about Dreams and dreams and the choices that everyone makes and what might have been. I was so caught up in the plot that when I left my library copy at work I downloaded a copy to my reader. It’s that good! Highly recommended!

Oct 09, 2015

I grabbed this book off the shelf on speculation. I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed this story...I wasn't able to put it down, and I read it all in one day. I highly recommend this story!

Aug 09, 2015

A stellar start for a new author of which I will be most assuredly and avidly following! Hooking me in with the first line I fell into her words and by the end of the 1st chapter I looked at the fly leaf again and realized it was her first novel which incited me to throw myself back into her story, devouring her print until finished. Done. I thought her meandering through the two worlds of one mind was brilliantly done; I totally got it and understood emphatically. If you wish a more informed critique, I believe the comment by 1_Great_Book is a most apt one. Totally engrossing novel. Read it!! (:

Aug 04, 2015

Interesting construction and brave attempt for a first novel. The novel starts off with a premise that becomes untrue (I won't spoil it for you) the further you read into the story; different readers will hit the turning point at different times. All is made clear toward the very end (and DON'T go read the last few chapters before you read the rest - you will spoil the whole thing!).
It is never explicitly stated, but it is obvious that there was a breakdown and period of psychosis, as the protagonist tries to cope with and take in 3 major shocking life events over a very short time span. The fact that it takes place in the early '60's allows the author to keep the lines a little fuzzier than they would be today in our hyper alert world of diagnosis, medication, treatment and full disclosure. This is a novel you may want to read more than once with a bit of space in between. Kind of like a good movie that you want to see more than once to go back and catch the finer details that are of course there, but may be lost at first glance before you know what is really going on.

View All Comments


Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further


Subject Headings


Find it at HCL

To Top