This book is a love letter to bookshops all around the world.It's practically porn for those who not only love to read but also love to travel. I already had an unwritten list of bookstores I wanted to visit someday (which included Shakespeare & Co in Paris, which is Sam's favorite, and El Ateneo Grand Splendid in Buenos Aires, which I'd seen photos of online). Now, I've just finished reading about SO MANY other amazing-sounding bookshops that I am overwhelmed. I can't add them ALL to my list, but I can't think of a single one that I would choose to leave off it. I don't feel like I can even give you the highlights of my select favorites, because they're all my favorites. I'd have to retype the entire book here, and I don't think Jen Campbell would appreciate that.
But I can tell you about one idea I really loved: Shaun Bythell's Random Book Club, "where customers anywhere in the world can pay an annual fee to have a random second-hand book delivered to their door every month." This sounded perfect to me until Sam pointed out it was quite possible that most of the books would suck. (Not in those exact words, but I must admit, there is that risk.) Not to mention the fact that I still own enough unread books that I might as well just make my own personal Random Book Club for myself.
And I can tell you about one story (of many) that I found interesting: the details behind the Keep Calm and Carry On signs. I'd already heard that this was a WWII relic, but what I didn't realize was that this propaganda poster had never actually been used during the war; instead, it had been "kept back, intended to be distributed if air raids further dampened people's spirits. In the end it was never sent out, and hardly anyone saw it," until it was unearthed by a couple of booksellers in Northumberland in 2000.
I have a few of my own favorite bookstores that I can write about in my own little mini-edition of The Bookshop Book here:
- I will always have a special place in my heart for my local Books-A-Million. It may be relatively soulless and sterile, but it's still fun to browse, and it's pretty much the only choice where I live (other than Amazon). More importantly, it led me to Sam.
- I loved The Book People in Austin, which felt so comfy and homey and provided hours of enjoyable wandering. It actually got a mention in Campbell's book, but the write-up didn't capture the feeling of the place for me, as it seemed to focus mainly on the store's charitable contributions to the world of reading. Admirable, of course, but that wasn't what I loved about my visit to the store.
- A new favorite: The Wild Detectives in Oak Cliff (Dallas). It's situated in a rejuvenated old neighborhood with a bohemian feel--a nice, if small, area to explore on a sunny November afternoon. WD is really more of a coffee shop cum bar that sells books, and (very odd, for me) I didn't come across anything that I HAD to buy, but I enjoyed the lovely backyard seating area and the bookish conversation.