“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.