You Don’t Find Books, Let The Books Find You
This thought gained momentum even more after it came across a piece that mentioned the renowned bookstore Shakespeare and Company, two prominent and independent bookstores based out of Paris, France. Now, at a time when there have been a lot of writeups about France, mostly sympathies for President Macron, over the vehement atrocities that it has been witnessing, this piece of news to made it to the headlines for reasons that aren’t enough to rejoice.
A Washington Post report mentions that the bookstore was the first to publish the entirety of James Joyce’s “Ulysses”, at a time when no one else had done so. It further mentioned that the bookstore had been an informal living room for decades to reputed authors Ernest Hemingway, F.Scott Fitzgerald, Lawrence Durrell, and others.
It’s founder George Whitman, referred to the bookstore as, “a socialist Utopia masquerading as a bookstore.” This place resembled a bohemian rhapsody, a kind where all visitors could sleep upstairs, sipping on red wine which was served in empty tuna cans.
The very thought of it, urged the founders to think of a place where budding writers writing a novel could drop by, and they would be welcomed with the exact atmosphere that could help them develop stories, ideas and nurture them. A place that is so vibrant, ornate and well lit to the literary folks, today is struggling to keep up with the competition and survive.
As a personal habit, even though I am quite a tech person myself, but when it comes to reading, and by reading I am referring to classic novels, much like Orhan Pamuk’s “My Name is Red”, I’d prefer lifting up a copy from my nearest bookstore, no matter at what a discounted rate do I get a copy online on the web.
Visiting bookstores, not only restrict oneself to pick up your copy but also provides the ground for literary discussions, with the shopkeeper and others that visited the store at the same time. As I turn the pages of my diary, I realise that these indirect conversations introduced me to the works of a lot of authors, many of whom I didn’t hear of, for the longest time. Something that only a physical visit could be helping out with, not a virtual one.
As I write this, I get to know that Shakespeare and Co. has been thanking people for the immense support that it has been receiving since the last few days, and their traffic has seen a huge upsurge. Reading about that, felt good and peaceful. Perhaps the article that mentioned it as a place where, “You don’t find books, books find you hold true.” I can’t guarantee the truth behind this as I haven’t visited it in person, maybe someday I could come up with a better catchphrase when COVID would be lifting up the temporary shackles. Until then, there is this endless wait, and countless good wishes for Shakespeare and Co.