Yesterday’s Sunday NY Times travel section was focused almost entirely on bookstores, which of course was a direct path to my heart. I hope nonsubscribers can access these articles, with their gorgeous photos:
Temples for the Literary Pilgrim (“From Mexico City to Hangzhou, bookstores that are destinations in and of themselves”): the only one I’ve been to is Shakespeare and Company, but I’d like to spend time in them all. Hangzhou’s Zhongshuge Bookstore is probably not my kind of place as far as books are concerned (even setting aside the fact that they’re in Chinese), but I’d love to just gawk for a while.
7 Writers on Their Favorite Bookstores (“Geraldine Brooks, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Pamela Paul and others in the literary world reveal their favorite bookstores”): I’m particularly fond of Juan Gabriel Vásquez’s recommendation of San Librario in Bogotá, Colombia, which begins:
The place is small and irregular in shape. From the outside, it looks as if a door has been carelessly left open in a house with a brick facade and barred windows. Bookshelves cover the walls as you enter; in the center of the small room there’s a desk that I can’t describe, because books always hide it — hide its surface, of course, but also its front and sides, so that the bookseller seems to greet you from within a trench of printed pages.
Now, that‘s my kind of place! (Contrariwise, Pamela Paul plumps for Hatchards in London. Boring.) Incidentally, the print version has a bizarre set of typos in Geraldine Brooks’s piece on Fullers Bookshop in Hobart, Tasmania: “engrainedingrained,” “Sunday Mmass,” “Mount t Wellington,” “winterywintry,” “cafeé.” Most of them seem to have to do with conversion from non-US spelling, but I don’t know what “Mount t Wellington” (which occurs twice) is about.
Ann Patchett’s Guide for Bookstore Lovers: Worth it just for An Unlikely Story Bookstore & Café in Plainville, Mass. (“Jeff Kinney took part of the proceeds from his juggernaut series “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” and built his hometown a four-story bookstore — the ultimate fulfillment of literary civic duty”).
A Bookworm’s Travel Plan, by Jennifer Moses: I was annoyed by her opening salvo of proud anti-Kindle Luddism (“I need the real thing: a solid slab that I can hold in my hands”), but she won me over with this:
And then I saw it: a small city, built entirely of the novels of Anthony Trollope, an author I’d never before taken up, though I distinctly remember my mother’s dear friend Jessica saying something like: “At a certain point past youth, if you don’t discover Trollope, there’s basically nothing to live for.” Trollope? You mean that bearded and bespectacled Victorian word-factory with his hemming and hawing and endlessly long sentences? I’d rather be stuck on an elevator. But there it was, beckoning me: “The Eustace Diamonds,” crumbling and stained. As if it were an abandoned dog, I couldn’t resist.
That’s the very novel my wife and I are now reading at night! And a good one it is, too. (We’re looking forward to plenty more Trollope; thank goodness for prolific authors.)