Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Bookish Quotes: Books in Paris

Every now and again I share a quote about books, bookshops, reading in general or libraries that I call Bookish Quotes. They are infrequent posts, mainly when I happen to find that capture my attention. It is always good though when a post can be used for multiple purposes, so today this quote from Passing Love by Jacqueline E Luckett  (which I reviewed here last week) also counts as a Paris in July and Tuesday Teaser post. Got to love multitasking!

The quote comes from pages 149 and 150

By the age of fifteen, libraries and her father's infatuation with books had lost their charm for Nicole. Library as babysitter, as place to meet nice boys, as reliable locale to tell the parents she was when she really wasn't. (Oh, that Nicole? Such a smart girl, spending so much time at the library.) Not one library was as impressive as the one before her. The Bibliotheque Nationale was a palace: a house of books the length and breadth of a generous city block. A sign, written in four languages, directed her past a boutique window decorated with flying pigs statuettes and to the rue de Richelieu. Double gates, flags, and its name carved into the stone above marked the entrance where she surrendered her purse to an African security guard and passed through the metal detector.

The foyer was a corridor of remodeled beauty: a glass-enclosed bookstore, marble counters, a reading room - cordoned off by carts filled with three-foot lengths of steel poles. Nicole peeked through an open door at blue walls and table lamps, wooden desks comparable to church pulpits, and imagined Hugo, Dumas, de Tocqueville laboring inside the circular room. Farther down the hall, a curved staircase wound up to the second floor.

Nicole was impressed with just the entrance. Imagine how much more impressed she would have been had she made it into the oval reading room!

Of course, if I was going to be in Paris looking at bookish delights, I would also have to stroll among the booksellers along the Seine:

And I wouldn't be able to resist a visit to Shakespeare and Co. (quote from page 185)
From the Seine they went to the little bookstore whose reputation overcompensated for its floor space. The interior of Shakespeare and Company was a book lover's fantasy, every wall covered from beamed ceiling to checkered floor with books by English-speaking authors.

"This store is as popular as it was when it opened in 1956. There's even a little bit of black history here." Laurent ran his fingers over a few volumes. Nicole watched him examine the titles and take one from a shelf. Books lined one wall of his living room. An organization Squire, for all his love of books, never imposed on his.

"The owners held a reception for Richard Wright the same year they opened. Baldwin signed copies here of Go Tell It on the Mountain. Your father's favorite, Langston, read in the sixties. Abbey Lincoln sang and read poetry. I guess that's why Loot loves it here. It reminds him of the past."
Not sure that date is correct, but still. By the way, did you know that there is a Shakespeare and Company podcast where they share some of the events they have at the store! I didn't know until today.


  1. Between you and Ana, Paris suddenly seems more interesting to me now with all the bookstores! So you know what's going to happen to Shakespeare and Company once it sells?

    I love the quote from the book too. Book love is so lovely to share, isn't it?

  2. Thank you for the literary tour of Paris. A never ending love affair. I love the photos of the library's oval reading room. I was in the reading room of the Library of Congress recently. Who knew this young nation had such a gorgeous place to read books brought to us by Congress? It felt positively European. Thanks for the fun.

  3. Oh wow, I think I could spend days in the Oval Reading Room, and if that isn't enough to visit Paris one day, then the Shakespeare and Sons is! I loved this little homage tot he bookish places of Paris! It was so wonderful to come across today!

  4. Lovely post. I can't believe that I've never opened the door of Shakespeare and Co, despite passing multiple times! Next visit for sure.

  5. Now I want to go back to Paris. I love Shakespeare and Company :)

    I don't normally like to link to one of my posts, but I thought you might be interested in reading my experience with Literature and Paris; http://knowledgelost.org/literature/literary-paris