Archive for the ‘Bookstores’ Category

Check out this wonderful collaboration between Spike Jonze and Olympia Le-Tan:  Mourir Auprès de Toi (To Die By Your Side), a short stop motion film set inside the famous Parisian bookstore, Shakespeare and Company.  Eros and Thanatos and Felt.


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Tbookshophe Bookshop

by Penelope Fitzgerald

London: Flamingo, 1989.

I have to begin by saying that I can’t think of how to write about this book without spoilers.  The ending weighs so heavily on me.  What a delightfully acerbic and dark read this is.  Dark because the forces of evil, in the guise of a woman named Violet, seem to prevail.  Delightful because the world of books, fictional and real, has booksellers like Florence Green, who buys hundreds of silk bookmarks because they are beautiful and hundreds of copies of Lolita because, after taking advice, is assured that regardless of how much money it will make, it is a book worth reading.

Widow Florence Green decides to open a bookshop and buys a haunted, crumbling building in which to sell her wares.  She is all determination and forthrightness.   She is a little unsure of her business decisions, but under the influence of her astonishingly capable 10-year-old shop assistant Christine, Florence hardens a bit.  She is wonderful.  Her nemesis, Violet, decides after Florence has bought the Old House that she wants it for a community arts centre, and schemes and plots to get Florence evicted.  Fitzgerald is remarkably deft in her depiction of the stubbornly stupid bureaucrat, the despotic small-town matriarch.  Her dialogue is crisp and witty.  Her prose is just opaque enough to make you work at filling in a scene, just light enough to make you squint a bit to sort impressions into shape.

Courage is Florence’s primary virtue, and as a book lover it takes some courage to read this book.  Spoiler alert!   The book ends with Florence defeated, “her head bowed in shame, because the town in which she had lived for nearly ten years had not wanted a bookshop.”  Oh, Florence, no!  That’s not it!    That’s not it at all!   The good news is that the Violets of this world will always be skewered by capable pens.  The narrator and we know what poor Florence does not, that Violet schemed mercilessly to ruin her, and there will have to be satisfaction in that knowledge.

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The Green Man

Michael Bedard

Toronto: Tundra Books, 2012.

This is the first book I’ve read by Michael Bedard, whose Redwork won the Governor General’s Award for children’s literature in 1990.  The Green Man is a loose sequel to A Darker Magic, but I don’t think you lose anything in the telling by not having read it first.

A little like Jo Walton’s Mor, who picks up I Capture the Castle thinking it’s about medieval siege strategy but finds a delightful novel instead, I picked up The Green Man in the hopes of reading more along the lines of the Arthurian trails I’ve been following with my middle son.  The Green Man is, in fact, the name of a bookstore, so while I did not get what I was looking for, I got what I wanted.

Fifteen-year-old O, short for Ophelia, goes to spend the summer with her aunt Emily, who owns a second-hand bookstore that has seen better days.  Emily has had a heart attack, and while she is stubbornly independent, the plan for O to stay with her, while her father goes to Italy to research his book on Ezra Pound, works to everyone’s advantage.  Emily encourages O’s budding interest in poetry, O begins to restore order to the bookstore, she meets its ghosts, and she begins to sense the magic that lingers there, not all of it good.  There is a (too-thin) thread of time travel, a shape-shifting magician, a handsome stranger and lots and lots of references to poets and poetry.  And books.  Lots of books.

The book is not perfect, but it was the right book at the right time for me.  I read it in one sitting, and while I can’t see reading it to the boys at this point, I do think that any book-loving child or adult could find a happy escape into its pages.

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George Whitman, proprietor of Shakespeare and Company, has died at 98. 

Full story here.

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Forgotten Bookmarks: A Bookseller’s Collection of Odd Things Left Between the Pages

by Michael Popek

First there was the blog, then there was the book.  Second-hand bookseller Michael Popek finds all kinds of things tucked between the pages of the books that come into his store.  The book and the blog are a catalogue of them.  A bibliophile’s Post Secret.

via bluestalking

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I like to think that I’m no bookworm, egghead, four-eyed paleface library rat. I often engage in activities that have no reference to the printed words. I realize that books are not the entire world, even if they sometimes seem to contain it. But I need the stupid things.

from Luc Sante’s delightful essay “The Book Collection that Devoured Me” in the WSJ

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The Secret Bookstore

There’s No Place Like Here: Brazenhead Books from Etsy on Vimeo.

Thanks, Shawna.

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The Big Dream by Rebecca Rosenblum

The Odious Child by Carolyn Black

And Also Sharks by Jessica Westhead

And 56 other titles.  Time to winnow.  But definitely these.

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Back Soon

I’ve been in Chicago.  Will the temptations of a new city’s bookstores be too much for my weak willpower?  Will I make it to April 1 without having to admit total defeat in the TBR Dare?  Will it count if Ted buys them for me? 

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I have found a bookstore and publisher that deals exclusively with books about books.  Oak Knoll Books in Delaware.  Admittedly, many of these books are so specialized that they have a limited audience, but to discover an entire store given over to books about books makes my heart go pitter pat. 

It’s the bookshop that every bibliophile secretly fantasises about, and occasionally encounters in a Jorge Luis Borges story. An entire bookstore full of just books about books. Reader, I’m here to tell you that this is no ficcione: such a dream bookshop exists. You will find it in the historic colonial town of Old New Castle in a three-storeyed Opera House built in 1879 where two floors house, in an almost labyrinthine fashion, shelf upon shelf upon shelf of books on books.

Oak Knoll Books has the largest inventory in the world of books on books. Its publishing imprint, Oak Knoll Press, tops even this Borgesian fantasy by being a fine press devoted exclusively to publishing books about books.

More from Pradeep Sebastian’s gushing article about the store here.

Thanks to Becky at The Book Frog for the link (via library thing).

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