Review: A Very Special Year

(This entry has been cross-posted in

Title: A Very Special Year
Author: Thomas Montasser
Year: 2016

(Spoiler alert! You have been warned!)

As a student majoring in business, managing a small, old bookstore was not part of Valerie’s future plan. Yet, when one day her aunt, Charlotte, suddenly vanished and left a very short note appointing Valerie to maintain the bookstore, Valerie did not have another choice beside taking over ‘Ringelnatz & Co.’ while hoping one day Aunt Charlotte would come back.

It looked pretty simple in the beginning. Valerie had knowledge in business anyway, so with good analysis, reasonable plan and couple of contacts, she believed she could run the bookstore for a little while to pay off its debt, before eventually selling it to another party.

It was not too long before she realized there was another part of the business that she had not been mastering on: portion of magic. There must be couple hundred of titles in the bookstore, with several version per title. Simply said, thousand books are available for readers! The problem is, without magic, it would be useless. How could we know what from all these books which would attract the readers? Who could remember by heart this magnificent collection which ranges from decades ago to the latest published? This is the magic of a bookseller which Valerie noticed and concluded.

Though a bit devastated in the beginning, gradually Valerie enchanted by the charm of ‘Ringelnatz & Co.’, or in particular, its book collection. Valerie, who in the last few years rarely reading books beside Business related, started drawning herself in the world of Orhan Pamuk, Thomas Mann, and other authors which she had never heard before. Soon, she was engtangled with the magic of books, and unconsciously developing her skill as a bookseller.

Her meeting with several interesting people across the seasons enriched her experience and progressively guided her to a direction which she had been thinking of. Until one day she found herself with two train tickets in her hand, accompanied by an attractive gentleman, and had to decide what she would do next….

I bought this book out of curiousity since the summary sounded promising. It is actually a German book which has been translated to English, and just published last May. In general, I quite like this book. The early chapters are a bit slow for me, but after chapter three, the pace becomes normal and more enjoyable. What I like in this book is the description of magic, either for the books, or the bookstore. I also like the fact that Montasser provided examples of different titles and the authors (and they are real), which made me realize how little I know about literature.

The missing part of this book was the explanation of a special book with the same title: “A Very Special Year”, which later would influence Valerie’s life greatly. In the beginning of story, audiences were introduced to this special book. Valerie thought it was a defect due to blank pages in half of the book. Only later Valerie knew that “A Very Special Year” was a rare book and only few copies available in this world. And this copy, which she thought a misprinted book, was her copy. It was her own book. It was her chance to experience her own story.

Now, for me, it would be another magical experience should Montasser have given a little bit more space for this portion, to peek a little bit on how Valerie would have chosen her path to build her own story. Unfortunately the explanation was very brief, and somehow this was also washed off by last section (Epilogue) which explained on what happened next to Charlotte and Valerie. I wish Montasser had put more story of Valerie and the young guy in the train rather than putting some closure summary in the Epilogue.

In conclusion, this book was light, easy to digest, though a bit slow in the beginning. I think it represents nicely Montasser’s passion of books and literature. I enjoyed reading it while learning a bit on literature. Not bad to accompany your evening.


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