Welcome to the Hyunam-dong Bookshop

A Novel

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Pub Date Feb 20 2024 | Archive Date Feb 07 2024
Bloomsbury USA | Bloomsbury Publishing

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INDIE NEXT PICK * Debutiful Most Anticipated Book of 2024 * Powell's Pick of the Month

The Korean smash hit available for the first time in English, a slice-of-life novel for readers of Matt Haig's The Midnight Library and Gabrielle Zevin's The Storied Life of AJ Fikry.

Yeongju is burned out. She did everything she was supposed to: go to school, marry a decent man, get a respectable job. Then it all fell apart. In a leap of faith, Yeongju abandons her old life, quits her high-flying career, and follows her dream. She opens a bookshop. In a quaint neighborhood 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.

A heartwarming story about finding acceptance in your life and the healing power of books, Welcome to the Hyunam-dong Bookshop is a gentle reminder that it's never too late to scrap the plot and start again.

INDIE NEXT PICK * Debutiful Most Anticipated Book of 2024 * Powell's Pick of the Month

The Korean smash hit available for the first time in English, a slice-of-life...

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ISBN 9781639732425
PRICE $28.99 (USD)

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Featured Reviews

Welcome to the Hyunam-dong Bookshop by Hwang Bo-reum

Thank you to Bloomsbury Publishing and NetGalley for providing an advance copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. The book will be published on February 20th, 2024.

I loved this quiet, reflective, and ultimately upbeat book about a young South Korean woman — Yeongju — who drops out of the rat-race to open a bookshop in a quaint residential area of Seoul. This is a far cry from similarly themed American versions with sassy owners or drama gushing from every page. Instead this bookstore slowly grows a community filled with polite and kind people who help each struggle with philosophical questions of life such as: What constitutes success in life? Have we become the person we wanted to be? We meet an array of people, each taking an unusual (especially for South Korea) path through living and hear discussions of the tactics each is employing along with a self-assessment of his or her happiness.

This is a translation of a surprise best-seller from Korea whose popularity spread completely through word of mouth. I enjoyed knowing that I was reading something authentically Korean that had appealed to a non mainstream audience in that way. What I assume was a modern Korean culture permeated the behavior and reflections of each of the characters in a way I found enlightening. I also loved the writing style: Quiet. Observational. Unfiltered. The story was sweet, honest, and real and had many points of resonance for me. I loved the way people communicated with each other with simultaneous insight into each person’s thoughts and assumptions. And of course, I loved all the “action” around reading and books! Yeongju reads. At the start of the book she is reading about people who have left their old lives behind, as that is what she has just done. She reads and discusses the ideas with herself. She learns but also disagrees and in this way furthers the development of her own sense of self and purpose. She makes recommendations but is far from the know-all librarians portrayed in much fiction. My favorite request: a mother whose 18-year old son is already sick of life asks for a book that will “unclog a smothered heart.”

I loved that this book tackled deep issues with neither false cheer nor gloominess. I found it ultimately inspiring while simultaenously grounded in reality. As an aside, I really had to focus on all the Korean names as I don’t have a lot of experience with them and am happy to report that with just that little bit of focused effort, the names felt very familiar to me by the end.

“In The past, she used to live by mantras like passion and willpower, as if by imprinting the words on her mind, they would somehow breathe meaning into her life. It only felt like she was driving herself into a corner. From then on, she resolved never to let those words dictate her life again. Instead, she learned to listen to her body, her feelings, and be in happy places. She would ask herself these questions: does this place make me feel positive? Can I be truly whole and uncompromisingly myself? Do I love and treasure and myself here? For Yeongju, the bookshop checked all the boxes.”

“Yeongju loved such stories. Stories of people going through hard times, taking one step forward at a time as they seek comfort from the flicker of light across the horizon; stories of people determined to live on, despite their sufferings. Stories of hope – not the rash, or innocent kind, but the last glimmer of hope in life.“

“Yeongju’s home felt like an extension of her — somewhat lonely, but a reassuring presence nevertheless.”

“She took care and pride in writing each piece, even though it felt like she had to squeeze out every last bit of her brain juices.”

“Isn’t that what life is about? Foraging forward with the answer you have — stumbling along the way and picking yourself up — only to one day realize that the answer you’ve held onto for a long time is not the right one. When that happens, it’s time to look for the next answer. That’s how ordinary folks, like herself, live. Over our life span, the right answer will keep changing.”

“What counts as a good book? Books by authors who understand life. Those who write about family, mother and child, about themselves, about the human condition. When authors delve deep into their understanding of life to touch the hearts of readers, helping them to navigate life, isn’t that what a good book should be?”

“Small talk could be a considerate gesture, but most of the time, at your own expense. With nothing to say, squeezing the words dry leaving only an empty heart and a desire to escape.”

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This book will slide over you like your warmest coziest blanket enveloping you into the small and wonderful world of the Hyunam-dong Bookshop. At the core I believe this book is about finding happiness and a work life balance and what that means for different people. The characters are so well written I felt by the end that I had made friends. I would say that this is a book club must. There would be so much to talk about. This book is perfect for fans of Before The Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi and I Had That Same Dream Again by Yoru Sumino. This is one BookTokers are going to love for the sheer reason that it was made to be annotated. There are so many beautiful quotes and moments, I can't wait to get my personal copy so I can highlight, tab, and write in the margins. 10 out 10 recommend.

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This book is incredible! I've been raving about it since I first read it and even my dad went on to read this one because of how much I loved it.

Welcome to Hyunam-dong Bookshop is set in South Korea and it's about a woman who decides to quit the busy life she led in Seoul to follow her dream of opening a neighbourhood bookshop. However, the book is just as much about all of the people who frequent this bookshop, the community that is built around it.

I loved how the chapters almost felt like vignettes — because each one focused on a specific topic, from owning a bookshop and its difficulties to the shop's barista's dilemma between pleasing his parents or living a simple life. However, despite the chapters feeling very different, you do follow these characters' lives in the everyday business of a bookshop and get attached to them. I really didn't want this one to end.

Another book about books that I loved this year. You'll definitely want to check out this one!

Thank you so much to Bloomsbury for this ARC!

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I can see why this was a massive hit in Korea, and I'm so glad I got to savor this heartfelt and cozy translated read!

This book touches on many topics like mental health, life changing events like divorce and finding yourself and following your dreams thereafter, the power of books/bookshops, and following your dreams. Yeong-ju was a wonderful and imperfect MC and I thoroughly enjoyed her rising from the ashes post-divorce and spreading her phoenix wings to follow her dreams. The writing was beautiful, poetic, hopeful, and easily consumed. The atmosphere and setting was cozy and easily imagined. Highly recommend this book for when you're in the mood for an uplifting read.

Tysm for letting me be an ARC reader for this one!

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I liked the questions new bookshop owner Yeongju asks herself and others during the course of this book. Questions about life, purpose mix in with more practical concerns - how to make a successful bookshop, what is the purpose of reading. Her book seminar at the bookshop led by writer Jeungwoo even tackes questions about writing well. Her shop regulars include a knitter and crocheter and gives rise to the question re what such an activity might give back to the crafter.

I enjoyed the book not only for seeing how a successful bookshop could work, but also for thinking about the life questions Yeongju poses for herself and for her bookshop customers, and for the reader. Happiness vs pleasure, living for lifetime goals or living in the moment, the purpose of life. are among the interesting questions posed.

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“𝙇𝙞𝙛𝙚 𝙞𝙨 𝙩𝙤𝙤 𝙘𝙤𝙢𝙥𝙡𝙞𝙘𝙖𝙩𝙚𝙙 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙚𝙭𝙥𝙖𝙣𝙨𝙞𝙫𝙚 𝙩𝙤 𝙗𝙚 𝙟𝙪𝙙𝙜𝙚𝙙 𝙨𝙤𝙡𝙚𝙡𝙮 𝙗𝙮 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙘𝙖𝙧𝙚𝙚𝙧 𝙮𝙤𝙪 𝙝𝙖𝙫𝙚. 𝙔𝙤𝙪 𝙘𝙤𝙪𝙡𝙙 𝙗𝙚 𝙪𝙣𝙝𝙖𝙥𝙥𝙮 𝙙𝙤𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙨𝙤𝙢𝙚𝙩𝙝𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙮𝙤𝙪 𝙡𝙞𝙠𝙚𝙙, 𝙟𝙪𝙨𝙩 𝙖𝙨 𝙞𝙩 𝙬𝙖𝙨 𝙥𝙤𝙨𝙨𝙞𝙗𝙡𝙚 𝙩𝙤 𝙙𝙤 𝙬𝙝𝙖𝙩 𝙮𝙤𝙪 𝙙𝙞𝙙𝙣'𝙩 𝙡𝙞𝙠𝙚 𝙗𝙪𝙩 𝙙𝙚𝙧𝙞𝙫𝙚 𝙝𝙖𝙥𝙥𝙞𝙣𝙚𝙨𝙨 𝙛𝙧𝙤𝙢 𝙨𝙤𝙢𝙚𝙩𝙝𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙚𝙣𝙩𝙞𝙧𝙚𝙡𝙮 𝙙𝙞𝙛𝙛𝙚𝙧𝙚𝙣𝙩. 𝙇𝙞𝙛𝙚 𝙞𝙨 𝙢𝙮𝙨𝙩𝙚𝙧𝙞𝙤𝙪𝙨 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙘𝙤𝙢𝙥𝙡𝙚𝙭. 𝙒𝙤𝙧𝙠 𝙥𝙡𝙖𝙮𝙨 𝙖𝙣 𝙞𝙢𝙥𝙤𝙧𝙩𝙖𝙣𝙩 𝙧𝙤𝙡𝙚 𝙞𝙣 𝙡𝙞𝙛𝙚, 𝙗𝙪𝙩 𝙞𝙩 𝙞𝙨𝙣'𝙩 𝙨𝙤𝙡𝙚𝙡𝙮 𝙧𝙚𝙨𝙥𝙤𝙣𝙨𝙞𝙗𝙡𝙚 𝙛𝙤𝙧 𝙤𝙪𝙧 𝙝𝙖𝙥𝙥𝙞𝙣𝙚𝙨𝙨 𝙤𝙧 𝙢𝙞𝙨𝙚𝙧𝙮”

Welcome to Hyunam-Dong Bookshop is not a book that offers you a thick plot. This book is not a book that give you an exciting adventure. But instead its a book that tell you to slow down, sit and drink coffee. Its a book that offers warm hug, comfort and healing. Its a book that makes you reflect on yourself, your life and give you assurance that everything will be fine even if it takes time.

Hyunamdong bookshop is about Yeongju, who feel burned out of her old life and decided to open up an independent bookstore at picturesque neighborhood. Its a place that she hope many customers will find comfort with, while also trying to make the bookstore standout (trying her best to recommend a book for every customers, small greet and meet with the author etc). Each of the chapters have specific titles that the character will pondering about. I like how the book is not chaotic and compact with lot of things, its very peaceful and slow. The writing was straightforward, plain. simple but yet every words was exquisite and express the character's emotion gently. The book gently touch on difficult subjects but yet relatable to us; divorce, cutting ties with family, burnout, depression, career, harsh work culture etc.

We follow the character life and their thoughts journey, seeking an answer that nobody have same opinion with. Is the definition of happiness is same for everyone? Will we genuinely happy after achieving our dream? Does having a job that pay well is enough and nothing else is matter? Is that all we worth for? The character's dilemma and anxious thought are so relatable. Is it necessary to have a dream? How do we know the life we have right now is not a failure? Throughout the story, we can see the character slowly changing and have a clear insight of what they're looking for.

While we know the obvious answer to the subject discussed, the book is here to remind you back, that it is okay to choose yourself first over everyone else, it is okay to appreciate and celebrate every little things that you do or achieved. You don't have to rush things and its okay to take a break. o understand that the meaning of happiness is different things to different people. Overall, this book is like a warm breeze, there were no dull moment at all. I really don't want it to end.

Huge thank you to Bloomsbury Publishing , NetGalley and Pansing (@definitelybook) for providing an advance copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. Giving it 5⭐️

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This book is a beautiful testament to the beauty of the simple things in life, and to a love of books. It was a breath of fresh air. I loved this and there are parts that I will be coming back to over and over.

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Welcome to the Hyunam-Dong Bookshop is a beautiful debut by Hwang Bo-reum and an instant favorite of mine. I’m always drawn by books about libraries, bookshops, and book lovers. I can see why this was a massive hit in Korea and I’m so glad I got to read this heartwarming book about self-acceptance.

Yeong-ju was a wonderful MC and I loved following her journey rising from her divorce and following her dreams of opening a neighborhood bookshop. This book is also about the people who frequent the bookshop and the community around it. The book touches on many different topics such as finding yourself, mental health, following your dreams, and the power of bookshops. The writing was just beautiful and I can’t wait to get my own copy. 5 out of 5 stars.

Thank you to Netgalley and Bloomsbury for the opportunity to read this fantastic book.

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