Culture Magazine

This is the Book I Bought When I Was at Village Voice on the Rue...

By Shannawilson @shanna_wilson
This is the book I bought when I was at Village Voice on the rue...

This is the book I bought when I was at Village Voice on the rue Princesse in November 2010. I remember having a conversation with the gentleman working there over Amazon, price wars, etc. I discovered several new titles in the store that day, even after having just visited Shakespeare & Co. in the middle of a reading, where I bought Simone De Beauvoir’s Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter. This is often the case—I read about books and then I read actual books constantly, but I’m always finding new books in stores that I haven’t seen marketed online or in print.

The thing about English language bookstores in foreign cities (or any language bookstore in any city) is that while its a cultural gathering place, like the movie theater or the concert hall, in a bookstore if you speak softly, you can talk to other patrons and proprietors during the performance. Moreover, you can be immersed in a thousand genres, generating a million ideas of new to-read piles, and new things to be interested in learning about.

It is an obvious fact of the digital evolution revolution that these stores will become insolvent, which is heartbreaking to shop owners and their supporters everywhere. But rather than lament the inevitable, I cherish all the memories I have stacked on top of one another from spending hours in bookstores in New York, Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles, San Francisco, London, Denver, Krakow, Prague, Amsterdam, Brussels, and beyond. And Paris—from the cafes where Hemingway and Joyce and Dos Passos sat, to the Cezannes and Picassos they stared at in the Orsay, it only feels more invigorating to be in the city where so much of literary history went down. I try to buy a book in every store I enter. I feel for Village Voice Books, and I will be in to say goodbye to the store, give it my best, and wish its owners un bel avenir.

“There is no friend as loyal as a book.” - Ernest Hemingway


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