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Dreaming of being lost in a sea of books in Paris

Photo source: Laertes

I have been curious about this particular bookshop, Shakespeare & Co., since I first found out about it through L’Amerloque’s blog via a sidebar link. I love bookshops. The next time I am in Paris I dream of getting lost in Mr. Whitman’s labyrinth of books until hunger forces me out into the light of reality (whatever that may mean).

In America, we went to the bookstore as a family sitting for hours reading books for free while sipping coffee or hot chocolate. Angel Girl enjoyed our visits to the bookstore as much as my husband and I. She found beautiful books that opened her mind and imagination. It was at our favorite bookstore that Angel Girl picked out the book that was to become the first book she could read by herself.

First, I read it to her. As she grew stronger in her reading skills she began to read with me. After about a month of reading together, she began to read the book by herself. The very next day she proudly took the book with her to school and asked her teacher if she could read it to her kindergarten class. Her teacher let her. She was bright with pride and happiness as she told me all about her special day at school. I will never forget that day and I am sure neither will she.

Bookstores are like passages or portails through time and reality. Simply by picking up a book and reading a few lines you can be transported to another time or place. When I read I forget myself and become a part of the story in the book. I will not stop reading until the real world loudly calls my name. I shut the book and look around me slowly gathering myself together fighting away the feeling that I no longer belong here in the real world but in a book of stories. I struggle through all my daily tasks until I can happily return to my book and finish the story eating as I read if I must.

We all have our own stories of love, pain as well as daily life. Stories are found in the telling and not just the words. It is how you live not that you live.

Photo of George Whitman
Photo source: R. Keith

“I may disappear leaving behind me no worldly possessions – just a few old socks and love letters, and my windows overlooking Notre-Dame for all of you to enjoy, and my little rag and bone shop of the heart whose motto is “Be not inhospitable to strangers lest they be angels in disguise”. I may disappear leaving no forwarding address, but for all you know I may still be walking among you on my vagabond journey around the world.” — George Whitman, Shakespeare & Co.

Source: 40 Days in Paris

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • cj May 1, 2006, 3:59 pm

    beautiful quote.

  • Meredith May 1, 2006, 5:50 pm

    I love, love, love this bookshop, though it’s been years since i have been there. I used to live in the Paris region and would take the RER into the city just to go there!

  • Pumpkin May 1, 2006, 7:37 pm

    I want to go to Paris and see it NOW! Oh, well. Someday. :)

  • carra May 1, 2006, 8:29 pm

    I always wanted to visit that bookstore, but never had a chance! I read about it in books, I did not know it still existed, I lived in Paris for over 3 months and I did not discover it!

  • Pumpkin May 2, 2006, 7:42 am

    Carra, It is located in the 5e arrondissement. The address is 37 Rue de la Bücherie.

  • Fabien May 3, 2006, 10:00 pm

    You can hardly miss it when visiting Paris : it’s facing Notre Dame de Paris, across the Seine.

    If you’re not planning to visit Paris soon, you can take a look at the wondeful movie “Before Sunset” which has it’s 5 first minutes taking place in the bookshop!

  • Pumpkin May 3, 2006, 10:07 pm

    Thank you Fabien. Now, no one will have a problem finding the bookstore.

    I will be watching that movie next because I am dying to see the inside of this bookstore! :)

  • carra May 3, 2006, 10:56 pm

    OMG!!! I can’t believe this! I mean I LIVED in Paris and I never found it! Maybe because I wasn’t really looking for it and because I only was near Notre Dame twice. I am totally ashamed of myself! But when I am next time in Paris I am going to fix this mistake of mine.Thank you Pumpkin thank you Fabien!

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