Sunday, June 12, 2011

Real and Fictional Bookstores

When I read trashy fiction, I tend to read books about books. The Thursday Next novels, The Club Dumas, Shadow of the Wind (which was fabulous and not at all trashy), etc. I am a total bibliophile: I love books, libraries, bookstores, and most places that worship the written word. I read much more slowly now-- as I primarily read nonfiction, and read more articles than books, but I love books in the same way that I did as a child.

In all of the books-on-books, there seems to be some vision of a perfect bookstore or library. Often the bookstores are in exotic stone buildings or have underground tunnels with musty shelves and rare volumes. In my lifetime, I have yet to encounter such a place. Powells (Portland) and Elliot Bay (Seattle) are fabulous to be sure, but they lack the grandeur of my dream bookstore or library. As it turns out, some of these bookstores still exist, or did until recently. Servia sent me a wonderful piece on an old man who ran a bookstore devoted too early editions of Jules Verne. I am not a fan of the author, although I read plenty of Verne in my time, but the bookstore sounds marvelous enough to be out of one of my trashy novels. It must have truly been a magical place, and I wish that I had been able to visit Paris in time to see it while it lasted.

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