A Parisian Interlude…

Dana Thompson

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Shakespeare and Company

My sister and me in front of the greatest bookstore of all time

Okay, to be completely honest, I haven’t finished any books since my last post. I sincerely apologize. What kind of book blogger am I? I did start reading “A Tale of Two Cities” and promptly had a dream that I met Charles Dickens (he was fatter than I had thought) and had him sign my copy of “Cities” plus two bookmarks that I had recently bought in downtown Paris.

For you see, my friends, I am currently sitting in the airport terminal in Paris after spending about a week wandering the streets and seeing the sights of the City of Light (and I had quite a fright / to think that I might / after the eighth night / be snuggled up tight / in an airplane flight) (GAH I LOVE RHYMING), and let me tell you, it is an unsung booklover’s city.

First of all, there are bookstores on almost every street. I was so surprised! Of course, most of them are French bookstores and I really only know phrases such as, “I would like,” “how much is this,” “do you think it will rain,” “I thought you said it wasn’t going to rain,” and “you lying moron.” But, luckily, there happen to be a few English-speaking bookstores. My family and I visited one called Shakespeare and Company and I have never been so happy in my entire life. It was a paradise.

Filled to the ceiling with books, Shakespeare and Company is a maze of shelves and ladders and milling people. The downstairs boasts a huge collection of new and used works published anywhere from last year to whenever Cicero was still kickin’. The upstairs of this tiny store is made up primarily of very old books that cannot be purchased but which are free to read whenever you feel like sitting down for a little while. You can see the two square towers of Notre Dame out of the windows, surrounded by geraniums. One of the policies of the store is “do not turn away strangers lest they be angels in disguise,” and accordingly, they welcome any young writers who are visiting Paris to live in the bookshop as long as they work there for the duration of their stay. Upstairs in the library there are little pallets built into the wall where the writers sleep, along with a piano and a writing nook with an electric typewriter.

I had to take home some part of this amazing atmosphere. So I bought six books, a tote bag, and two postcards. I had to sit on my suitcase this morning to get it to close. Here follows list of the tomes I picked up instead of a book review:

“One Two Buckle My Shoe” by Agatha Christie (currently reading)

A collection of poems by John Donne

A collection of poems by William Blake

“The Moonstone” by Wilkie Collins

“The Pickwick Papers” by Charles Dickens

“Ariel” and other poems by Sylvia Plath (also currently reading–this makes three at least)