Bookshops, Road Trips, & Preconceptions

Bookshops, Road Trips, & Preconceptions

When we decided to head to Paris for a few nights, I had two things I wanted to do – visit the Catacombs, because they were closed the last time we were there, and visit a few English secondhand bookshops, because this has become a bit of a thing for me. Unfortunately, the Catacombs are conspiring against me, as they were closed again, so that left the bookshops – which was really more than enough. And as this is, of course, a blog primarily concerning the reading and writing of books, I thought I could make quite a nice little blog post about visiting them.

So let’s start with a couple of scene-setting shots…

La Basilique du Sacré Cœur de Montmartre – and blue sky!
Notre Dame de Paris – and rather close to bookshop one…











The weather was really not as good as it looked, but rainy days are good for bookshops. Shakespeare and Company was, of course, obligatory – we sat outside with a hot drink and watched everyone taking selfies in front of the doors. It’s a lovely old building, with all sorts of funky nooks and crannies, but as the emphasis seems to be on the sale of either new or rare books (and selfie-taking), I came away book-less. Probably a good thing, considering the shops to come.

It was quite hard to get a decent photo that didn’t have other people taking photos in it…
San Francisco Books – less labyrinthine, but with a good selection of books from vintage to new.












San Francisco Books was rather less busy and quirky, but far more interesting for the secondhand book hunter – it has a really good selection of used books, including lots of wonderful old paperbacks with lurid covers and menacing titles.

The Abbey Bookshop – a glorious book avalanche just waiting to happen.
The Abbey Bookshop – fairy lights and book piles and barely room to move. Heaven!












The Abbey Bookshop is tucked away in a back alley and literally overflowing onto the pavements with stacks of new and used books. It’s the sort of place where in order to pass someone between the shelves you both have to flatten yourselves against the stacks and hope nothing falls on you. If it did, you might be in there a long time before you could be excavated. Bliss, no?


I do feel I was fairly restrained.
Directions I can follow.











And then we retired to a patisserie for lunch and dessert, because, well, Paris.

We very nearly missed Berkeley Books, which would have been most upsetting –  we managed to get there on the second day. Unfortunately I forgot to take any photos of it, but it was a lovely little shop with a good stock of used books and a resident cat. The SO managed a chat with him but he left before I got to see him. The cat, not the SO.

Just perfect. And green. Greenly perfect.
I don’t even like quiche, and this was gorgeous.











And that was going to be it for my blog this week – bookshops and food, with chocolate heavily featured, as befits a writer and bookworm. But then I did one of those silly facebook quizzes at 4am or a similarly unpleasant hour (it seems that the little furry muse has established a psychic link with me, so that she wakes me up at a distance when she wants feeding). It was a quiz which claimed to be able to guess your age based on the books you’ve read, and it was all harmless enough. But the basis of it seemed to be that if you like classic literature, you’re old, and if you like young adult books you’re young. Which is ridiculous enough in itself – I read more classic literature as a teenager than I have as an adult, and I read plenty of young adult and middle grade books now. Of course, you could say it’s because that’s what I write, but I know plenty of people my age and older that read “young” books, and plenty of people younger than me that read “old” books. It’s that pigeonholing thing again, and the more I see it, the less I like it.

If you’re an introvert, you act like this, and this only.

If you’re an extrovert, you act like this, and this only.

If you’re of this age, you read this, if another you read that. No swapsies!

If you’re a bookworm, you must be an introvert/shy/timid/geeky/a daydreamer.

If you’re a writer, you must be an introvert/a bookworm/a geek/weird.

Firstly, let me say – I identify with all these “writer” things. But it’s not all I am. And this is what’s getting to me – this labelling and catagorising. The beauty of reading is all the diversity it opens us to, the ability to experience life through the eyes of people other than us, to understand that no single person is just one thing, one label. We’re so many, many things, so diverse and varied within ourselves as well as in relation to each other. We’re human, beautiful and wonderful and odd and interesting, and so, so much more than a clever internet meme that we can like and share and agree with. And while I do quite like clever internet memes that celebrate things like bookishness and introversion and weirdness, I also like so many other things, that aren’t writerish or bookish at all. And liking other things, being other things, doesn’t make me any less of a bookworm or a writer. They’re just other parts to the puzzle. This eagerness to label, to say if you’re a bookworm, or a writer, or any other thing, then you must conform to all these aspects, and only these, because otherwise you’re not really a bookworm, or a writer, or whatever – isn’t that exactly the opposite of what reading offers us?

So I decided to include the other parts of the trip in this blog, too –  a few of the many other things I love very much that have nothing and everything to do with being a writer and a reader. Because it’s all connected, isn’t it? All these little parts that make us what we are.

Green Day in Paris – I hate crowds, but I’ll always brave them for live music, especially these guys. Loud, unapologetic, and full of beautiful, furious energy.
Snowboarding – it snowed all day the first day, and was just fantastic. Big quiet runs, lots of snow to fall in, and not too many people out. Perfect.












That’s just a couple of the many non-book things I love. What about you? Do you love needlepoint and heavy metal? Dragon-taming and jam-making? World-building and fashion design? What things do you love that maybe don’t fit the labels you see around you? What are some of the other parts to the beautiful puzzle that is you?

And its even better when the sun comes out…

12 Replies to “Bookshops, Road Trips, & Preconceptions”

  1. Gorgeous post! Especially the photos! Made me want to start a Pinterest board of book shops!! I am so jealous of your trip to Paris. It sounds amazing, and seeing Green Day too!! I’m trying to think if I am anything people would not expect, but I’m really not sure. As well as being a writer, I’m a dog walker and a gardening enthusiast, does that count? I’m also a huge music fan and wish I had the funds to go to more gigs and festivals!

    1. A Pinterest board of bookshops – that would get me in so much trouble! I already research bookshops in the area for every trip we go on.

      I think you sound as varied and untypical as any writer – dog walking and gardening are certainly not the first things that spring to mind! And yes – I wish I could get to more live music too – it’s not cheap!

  2. I agree with your thoughts – real people are complex and multifaceted. You can’t assume things simply based on what someone reads or writes. I’m 36 and I love Harry Potter. I write steamy romances, but I’m actually the most unromantic person in real life (got married on a rainy morning in a German office building, had lunch with the four guests, hubby and I went back to having a normal day, and that was my idea of a dream wedding). I’m shy and an introvert, but I love people and I love communicating. I love action movies and video games with action (guns! explosions!), but in real life I’m a pacifist. We should indeed celebrate diversity. We are all kinds of different things and that’s what makes us wonderful.

    I’m glad you had a fun trip! 🙂 The photos are gorgeous, I kind of want to eat everything that’s on them, including the buildings.

    1. Ha, the buildings are gorgeous, aren’t they? The trip’s been fantastic so far – we’ve still got a few days of snowboarding left!

      That’s so interesting that you’re not romantic, yet write romantic books – I always assumed that romance writers were, well romantic. There we go – teach me to go nattering on about preconceptions while still harbouring them!

      I love all the little contradictions and surprises people have inside them – they’re beautiful things. And your wedding sounds like it was perfect!

  3. I’m so jealous of all those bookshops! And the snow, of course.

    What else do I like? Cats, of course, tramping (that’s hiking to non-Kiwis), circus arts… you know, I’m sure there’s other stuff. I’m also mathematically inclined and more logical than intuitive. Do they count as non-stereotypical for a writer?

    1. Circus arts?? Now I’m intrigued – what sort?

      And I think they’re all non-stereotypical – out of four of us here, no one has named the same thing, even though we share some too (cats, yay! Tramping (haven’t called it that in ages), yay!). Isn’t that quite lovely and beautiful?

      1. That is lovely. 🙂 Flying trapeze, actually (though not right now, for unfortunate reasons). Oh, and I forgot martial arts, though also not right now.

        1. Ah, sorry to hear you’re not practising right now. So frustrating when that happens – but how cool is that? Flying trapeze and martial arts? I’d love to try some circus arts – I have a session for aerial yoga booked for later this month, but that’s as adventurous as I’ve got.

          1. Ahh, I do like my power yoga! But I think the aerial stuff could be quite fun. Although I’m not hugely coordinated, so we’ll see how that goes…!

  4. Firstly let me say you have a great taste in music and I’m glad you included it because there’s nothing better than to let your hair down when you’ve been tucked away in your little writing space all day. The book shops’ looked so quirky too, now there’s an idea for a fantasy story if ever I saw one, what a backdrop! Really enjoyed reading this.

    1. Thanks so much Debbie – and yes, a wee bit of loud music and some stomping and shouting is sometimes exactly what’s called for! And the shops were amazing – this has become quite a little habit, hunting out secondhand bookshops in different cities. Some of them are just so beautiful, plus such an obvious love of books is wonderful to see.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: