Bookish People

Harper Muse

A perfect storm of comedic proportions erupts in a DC bookstore over the course of one soggy summer week—narrated by two very different women and punctuated by political turmoil, a celestial event, and a perpetually broken vacuum cleaner.

Independent bookstore owner Sophie Bernstein is burned out on books. Mourning the death of her husband, the loss of her favorite manager, her only child’s lack of aspiration, and the grim state of the world, she fantasizes about going into hiding in the secret back room of her store.

Meanwhile, renowned poet Raymond Chaucer has published a new collection, and rumors that he’s to blame for his wife’s suicide have led to national cancellations of his publicity tour. He intends to set the record straight—with an ultra-fine-point Sharpie—but only one shop still plans to host him: Sophie’s.

Fearful of potential repercussions from angry customers, Sophie asks Clemi—bookstore events coordinator, aspiring novelist, and daughter of a famed literary agent—to cancel Raymond’s appearance. But Clemi suspects Raymond might be her biological father, and she can’t say no to the chance of finding out for sure.

This big-hearted screwball comedy features an intergenerational cast of oblivious authors and over-qualified booksellers—as well as a Russian tortoise named Kurt Vonnegut Jr.—and captures the endearing quirks of some of the best kinds of people: the ones who love good books.


Insightful and entertaining... BOOKISH PEOPLE moves masterfully toward (its) crescendo, bringing disparate and often farcical motifs into harmony... As satisfying as a trip to your local indie bookstore. - The Washington Post


As much fun as Coll has with vacuum cleaners—a truly surprising amount—it's literary humor where she slays. - Kirkus Reviews


Queen of literary comedy - Newsday


Every reader who loves books will relish Coll's comedy of errors. - Booklist


D.C.'s new "it" novel - Axios


A lightly fictionalized, highly exaggerated, and very entertaining look at the lives of beleaguered booksellers. - Washingtonian


Susan Coll’s Bookish People is a delightful, hilarious, and utterly charming novel about a quirky bookstore and its motley crew—ridiculously lovable people who think way too much about words, writing, dead authors, customers’ dogs, cats who torment birds, canceled author events, British ovens, readers, vacuum cleaners, and Russian tortoises. The perfect read for bookish people everywhere! - Angie Kim , internationally bestselling author of Miracle Creek


Coll’s novel is a lot more serious than its cover communicates; it explores thorny issues such as the rise of neo-Nazism, career burnout, and the question of separating art from artist. Fans of novels with plenty of literary and political references or of relationship fiction will enjoy. - Library Journal


A smart, original, laugh-out-loud novel that fans of Tom Perrotta will adore. If you sell, buy, or simply love books, Bookish People is for you. I wholeheartedly recommend this quirky gem. - Sarah Pekkanen , New York Times bestselling co-author of The Golden Couple


There’s not a wittier, zanier, smarter book about books and the people who love them than Bookish People. After reading about this single screwball week in the book biz, you’ll want to hug your closest bookseller (and maybe apply for a job). - Leslie Pietrzyk , author of Admit This to No One


Take a bookstore owner who is sick of books, a pompous poet who has managed to get himself canceled, and a crew of overqualified millennial employees, then add a week of political upheaval and a rare celestial event. The result is Bookish People, a sharp yet tender comedy of bookstore manners. Susan Coll has written a love letter to bibliophiles everywhere with too many hilarious parts to list—though the tortoise named Kurt Vonnegut Jr. may be my all-time favorite literary pet. - Lisa Zeidner , author of Love Bomb


susan’s books