Since this is the first post for a new category, it should be explained that "skinny books" refers not to diet books or some new obsession in chick lit but to books of short length. The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald is a personal favorite. Fitzgerald did not publish her first book until 58 which gives hope to all of us creeping into middle age who have hopes and dreams and unfinished manuscripts. But of course, that is not what recommends her as a novelist. What distinguishes her from other writers are her finely drawn characters, defined as much by what she writes of them as what she does not write.
In 1958, Florence Green opens the only bookstore in the physically and intellectually isolated English seaside community of Hardborough. Her shop is haunted and damp thanks to permanently standing water in the basement. Her warehouse proves to be a most unsuitable storage spot for her book stock. She has limited start-up funds, and a less than encouraging bank manager. Her only employee is a 10-year-old perfectionist who slaps the hands of customers who grab books out of turn from the lending library. And yet, she makes a modest success of the business thanks in part to a risky decision to stock the newly published and controversial Lolita. Gradually though, she realizes that the town is not so supportive of her efforts to enrich their lives as she had originally imagined. She must face the possibility that her bookstore may not be viable in this small, mean place.
"I have remained true to my deepest convictions, I mean to the courage of those who are born to be defeated, the weaknesses of the strong, and the tragedy of misunderstandings and missed opportunities, which I have done my best to treat as comedy, for otherwise how can we manage to bear it?" Penelope Fitzgerald