Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Tiny tales from Paris #2: Shakespeare & Co. and The Abbey Bookshop


“I stepped into the bookshop and breathed in that perfume of paper and magic that strangely no one had ever thought of bottling."

The above quote, written by one of my favourite authors Carlos Ruiz Zafron, was the first thing that popped into my mind that memorable day I stepped foot into Shakespeare & Company. Being an English major, I knew that there was no way that I could leave Paris without a visit to the famously romanticized bookshop, and it didn't fail to cast me under its spell. 

Another equally enchanting but lesser known bookshop, The Abbey Bookshop, which was founded and continues to be run by a Canadian expat, pulled at my heart strings in a similar way that Shakespeare and Co. did.  There's something about narrow passageways, walls of books, creaking staircases, dim lighting and piles upon piles of books that comforts me in a way that I can't quite put my finger on. It's an amalgamation of things, I think. The endless possibilities presented through the vast array of reading material, all in one tiny space occupied by other literature enthusiasts and 'tumbleweeds'. The knowledge that in these spaces one can spend hours upon hours, slipping into a dream like state and putting any worries on hold. In a foreign city, bookshops like these made me feel at ease, made me feel at home even, in the sense that the universality of literature brings me comfort and happiness where ever I may be. It struck me in general how many bookshops there are in Paris compared to my city, where an alarming number continue to close. It brought me so much joy to see that they are still highly revered in French culture.  This is just one of the reasons why I have proclaimed Paris as my soul city. I ache to return, but for now, have been cherishing the souvenirs I bought from these two fabulous bookshops; The Secret History by Donna Tartt and Ada or Ador by Vladimir Nabokov now take pride of place on the top of my bookshelf.
Rikke said...

A bookworm's paradise! Such gorgeous photos and lovely description. I need to go to Paris. Soon.

Sarah DeBoice said...

Shakespeare & Co. is one of my favorite things about Paris. :) Your time in the city sounds and looks amazing. xo

Jenny J said...

Beautiful. It looks like Belle's library in Beauty & the Beast x

Emily Black said...

Looks like heaven! I'm glad to hear Paris at least still has book stores. There are barely any near me now, except those really cheap ones who sell only the cheapest editions possible and don't have the right atmosphere at all. It makes me sad. Oh well, just more of an excuse to go to Paris then...! x

Carina Maree said...

As the saying goes, Paris is always a good idea!

Carina Maree said...

I hadn't thought of it like that before. I see what you mean-I think I love it even more now! xx

Carina Maree said...

Oh it's the same situation where I live! There is perhaps one or two very good bookshops in Perth that have real character and which don't just sell the usual cheap or run of the mill editions, but they're not local so I have to make a planned trip if I ever want to have a browse. A lot of secondhand bookshops in particular have been closing down here...The Parisians definitely value the important things, in my opinion. You must go to Paris one day! I feel like you would fit right in there. xx

Abbie said...

These two bookshops look absolutely amazing, I can spend hours in a normal bookshop but I have a feeling I would spend way more time in these!! I must remember to visit them sometime:) x

Abbie|Thoughtsandthunder

Carina Maree said...

Oh I know! There's even a reading room upstairs in Shakespeare and Co. but when I visited it was quite busy unfortunately. It was such a cosy space!

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