On Bookshops – and why you need them

One of the reasons why we find it hard to read through a blog is that it takes time to get to the point. Sure, there is something to be said in the case for a slow build but often we find that having to go through the maze of what leads up to the crux of the article is enough to open the space for distraction – consider it an opening to get away from the article and get onto Instagram. Instagram! *sigh* The bane and boon of our times. At once problematic and distracting with its lofty algorithm designed specifically to refresh your feed with non-chronological posts so long as they’re different. Psychologically speaking it plays into your FOMO – the Fear of Missing Out. On the other hand it’s the best tool for content creators, for any creative in general. And lo and behold! We’ve digressed from what we were meant to talk about.


The interesting thing about bookstores is that they’re the same everywhere. That’s all; no frills attached herewith. While the content may sometimes differ, you may or may not find what you’re looking for, it comes down to the fact that book shops are always around waiting to be explored no matter where you travel to.


On a recent trip through four cities of Europe we made it a point to include at least one bookshop in our daily (if not weekly) plan. Over and above any spare time at train stations or airports were spent perusing the shelves and book corners – whenever possible. And here is the truth – no matter how it is packaged in terms of design and layout, vibe or no vibe, from the most clinical looking Walmart-style bookstore to the uniquely bizarre style of antique shops, bookstores are the same no matter what corner of the world you’re in.


That isn’t to say that the characteristics of each space don’t make for a unique book experience – arguably no two bookshops would have the same vibe/feel/atmosphere. Yet when you’re standing in front of a bookshelf it is a touchstone to the familiar even when you are in completely new surroundings and you do not know anyone around you, perhaps even the language is largely foreign to your ears.


The way a bookshop is laid out is most often such that you can see the newest books right next to something deeply familiar. Consider this, in Berlin even though we found ourselves facing row upon row of books in German, there was also P.G. Wodehouse and Jane Austen, Margaret Atwood present in either language, in both paperback and hardcover. At Shakespeare and Sons you may descend into a treasure trove with books piled higher than your arms could reach – some second hand, some older than you, and our favourite kind the ones written by local authors (translated options available as well).


Without descending too deep into the romance of bookshops, there is something to be said in the case for finding one on your next trip. Not all days are good, sometimes you may find yourself stuck indoors on a rainy morning or perhaps an afternoon when you are too tired to visit another museum. Know that safe haven in the form of a bookshop is never too far from you.

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