This book shop has been on my list for ages. I think it is on every booklover’s list.
I know that the current location of Shakespeare and Co isn’t the original that Sylvia Beach opened up (that notable folks like Hemingway and Joyce frequented) but it has the same tenets. The current incarnation of the store still serves are refuge for artists in need.
I spent about a few hours browsing and sitting on the coach upstairs with the cat (because of course they have a bookshop cat). The staff is intermixed between employees, volunteers and artists who work for their stay at the shop. I ended up making friends with one of them, sitting and smoking outside of the bookshop after her shift had passed.
She had helped me find a book while I was in the shop and wanted to check out what else It was perfectly comfortable opening up to a near stranger and having her do the same. I’d say we smoked through half of a pack on the stairs outside of the shop chatting.
She left Ireland after her MFA program lost funding, unsure of what her future would be. She didn’t know where to go so she went to S & Co to stay for a few weeks until she figured it out. We talked at length about Ireland, where my lovely best friend lives. And literature. There’s a certain energy and enthusiasm that builds in a conversation about books. It begins with one book and keeps building as the recommendations and favourites are shared.
A young man sat down next to us with a very old typewriter and put up a sign, he’d write you a story while you waited and you could give him a donation. His name is Luke. He joined our conversation and we got in line to receive a story from him.
His story was one of travel, meandering around making a living writing stories for folks on that gorgeous typewriter. You can give him a theme or pick from a large stack of photos that he carries around. I asked him to write me a story about a lost person traveling. A thinly veiled request to write a story about me. He got this strange look on his face and said that he’d already written it earlier that day and that I was meant to have it.
I still haven’t read the story. I told him I’d read it when I came back and sat on those steps again, whether traveling alone or with a partner this time. The letter is patiently waiting for me in my journal.
He is he’s still traveling around, writing beautiful stories for people. I hope he can write one for you, too.
Find him here:
P.S. You can get your books stamped with a S & Co Kilometer Zero Paris, if you so choose, a forever memory of my trip.