I’ve always been an avid reader, but when the temperatures drop I seem to crave a good book even more. To me, there is nothing better than wandering through the aisles of a bookstore, picking out a few shiny new books, and then coming home to read them with a blanket and cup of cocoa next to the fire. On our last trip to Paris we of course had to stop at the legendary Shakespeare & Co. bookstore. Actually a tribute to the real Shakespeare & Co. which had been shut down in 1940, this shop near the Île-de-la-cité specializes in English literature. The top floor is also a library of sorts with older books that you can sit and read on the premises. Apparently the bookstore has also been somewhat of a “hotel” to traveling writers with claims that over 40,000 have stayed at the shop since its opening in 1951.
While wandering the shop I found that reading the book jackets of British-printed books was quite amusing, especially when the book was about America. I’m pretty sure one of the books in the travel section about the US had a huge red and yellow McDonalds-esque carton of french fries on the cover. Ha! I ended up coming home with a French cookbook (tailored for “English kitchens”) and a book about a British man who built a rowboat and traveled down the Seine. I’m in the middle of reading that book now.
It was certainly a fun place to visit — buzzing with both tourists and history. I do read most of my books on the iPad, but every so often I like to pick up a real book. I’m kind of afraid that the days of bookstores are numbered!
Anyway, if you find yourself in Paris head to Shakespeare & Co. Drop in for a poetry reading, Sunday tea, or some people watching. Maybe you can tell them you’re a traveling writer and see if they will give you a room!
Shakespeare and Company
37 rue de la Bûcherie