There is a blog I enjoy reading that is a good reminder of why it is good to be young, crafty, organic, and in love, that recently did a post directed at people who, well, I’ll just say for people who describe old bookshops as dangerous.
So here in Paris, there are some essential ex-pat stops. The first, of Hemingway fame, Sylvia Beach’s Shakespeare and Company, which to this day has been called a socialist utopia masquerading as a bookshop.
There are couches upstairs and a reference library filled with tattered pages and “To my beloved” inscribings on first pages.
A working 20s era typewriter can also be found in a small nook and can often be heard in use, though not very effectively as the A key does nothing (makes for very modern writing). I still do enjoy a peaceful Tuesday afternoon in the shop, reading upstairs, but avoid it on weekends when you will struggle for space, air to breathe, and the cat to pet.
Trumping that though, and I’m dreadfully sorry America, is The Abbey Bookshop, a Canadian haven that often goes unnoticed.
To my eyes, far more romantic than Shakespeare and Co, often half the price, and literally only a five-minute walk from its British competitor. The man who owns the shop, Brian, is a polite and zen-like Canadian from whom I get the impression he could both wrestle a Canadian grizzly, and could make you a mean cup of sencha. That being said, coffee is his drink of choice and he’ll almost always offer you some complete with, of course, maple syrup.
Though it is the downstairs of the shop that appeals to me. It has ancient stonewalls and ancient dusty books.
There are piles and piles of them and you can test your strength and search for one at the bottom, actually quite a fun game that I played last time there while trying to find a book of haiku.
So please, love on your local used bookstore but please don’t invite me as all bookshops take from me hours I don’t have and money I surely don’t either.