I have been reminiscing about my year in Wales and all of the adventures I allowed myself to dive into almost nine years ago. I've been thinking about the three days I spent gallivanting through Paris with one of my best friends; Eating croissants for dinner (except for that one afternoon where we had a plate full of mussels simmered in wine sauce and French fries in Montmartre), sipping tea at the Ladurée tea salon, drinking cheap wine from the French equivalent of a bodega, the sparkling wonder that is the Eiffel Tower...imbibing the c’est la vie spirit that fills the air like honeyed helium turning our voices four years old. I strolled through that city as if all of my concerns were of no consequence. It was a lesson that some things can actually exceed expectations. But for all the places I did get to see in my short time there, I completely forgot to visit the quintessentially literary hub at kilometer zero: Shakespeare and Company.
Shakespeare and Company seems so romantic! A literary watering hole for burgeoning writers across decades, in a city where books are taxed as little as fruits and vegetables for the necessity that they pose. I swoon all the more at the thought that my loves The Civil Wars filmed a few scenes there for their song Dust to Dust. I'm not sure when I'll get back to Paris to visit this cozy nook, but I'm thankful that they have a fully stocked website allowing for a virtual flâneur.
Last night, I rushed home from work to tear open the parcel I have been waiting for all week long, and I could not have been more enchanted! When I chance upon a lovely independent bookstore, I have my eyes on sentimental curiosities, as one would at a village flea market full of mismatched tea cups and skeleton keys. To that end, I found the selection on their website to be varied and intriguing. But what really throws my romantic sensibilities into OVERDRIVE are the selections they have available to personalize your books (please watch this lovely short video of how they do it, it’s adorable!). You can choose to have the title page of your books stamped with the official Shakespeare and Company seal, but why stop there? If you are so inclined, they will place a hand typed poem of their choosing in your book (€1), tuck in a Memory Mark: a memento left behind by visitors in the shop, and a spritz of beautiful Astier de Villatte perfume. It feels as personal as receiving a gift from a friend. All I want to do now is press a sprig of gypsophila between the pages.
Love Letters of Great Men - I have always wanted a copy of this book. I find letters fascinating. A diary where we collaborate with loved ones. I often feel very reverent as I read them, because they were never meant for my eyes, but I’m honored to have an inner peek into someone else’s life! I’m also looking for as many pint sized volumes from the Macmillan Collector’s Library as I can. They are so stunning!
The Small Pleasures of Life: The French Art of Living a Good Life by Philipe Delerm - This was a spontaneous purchase, that I’m sure I’ll cherish for a long time. France seems to be one of those countries that encapsulates the act and feeling of everyday rituals. As with the many books I’ve collected on the art of Hygge, this purchase was a no brainer. It’s a book of vignettes celebrating moments like the act eating Turkish Delight (I see you Narnia), a mobile library, the smell of apples, the motorway at night…many many reveries that the author holds dear.
The Brontës: A Life in Letters by Juliet Barker - Of course…this one’s a no brainer, right? The Brontës AND letters? Sold. (Unfortunately I could not find the link for this book on Shakespeare and Co.)
The Mating Season by P.G. Wodehouse: This was a Lucky Dip (6€) Shakespeare and Co's version of Blind Date with a Book, offering a surprise vintage novel! I look forward to discovering more about this novel. I loved discovering that it was released a few days before my birthday in 1949! I’m hearing that it is joy encapsulated…I can’t wait!
Shakespeare and Company seems a dream of a bookstore that I pray I get to experience one day, but until then, it feels magical to receive parcels from them. I’ll throw on my Civil Wars record, light Voluspa’s Baltic Amber for ambience, and have a quaint cup of tea in my S&Co. mug (it’s so adorable)!
Thank you so much for reading and I hope you have a lovely week!