Continuing my nostalgic theme this week I turn to the old fashioned bookshop. The news of the closure of the Travel bookshop in Notting hill has touched my heart. I have spent many an hour browsing through the shelves there along the years, it is how a bookshop should be; piled high with books, wooden shelves and knowledgeable staff that know exactly where everything is. Daunt books is another enchanting shop in Marylebone deceptively large and a beautiful place to escape to on a rainy day. Often I go into these shops with the purpose of buying a specific book but come out armed with a dozen others that I wouldn't have thought of, discovering them all by myself rather than being recommended them by a virtual shopkeeper.
These shops are the victims of technology such as the Ipad and Kindle plus the convenient 1 click shopping on Amazon or other such sites. Don't get me wrong I often buy from Amazon, it's amazing what they stock and the price, I also have an Ipad and yet, I still buy from a shop. Nothing beats the romanticism of a bookshop especially a second hand one with the sweet musty smell of ageing books that have been well thumbed and passed down the generations only to end up on your shelf.
I've always been an avid reader particularly in my teens and 20's, I was a confirmed Francophile at that time, so the books that marked me most tended to be French Nineteenth and Twentieth century classics such as Madame Bovary, L'Assomoir, Bel-Ami, A Rebours, La Jalousie but the one novel that has stayed close to my soul is L'Etranger by Camus. I clearly remember reading it for the first time, not being able to put it down, whenever I need time for reflection I pick it up again, my faithful friend ready to help me through a bad time reassuring me to take responsibility for my life.
During our recent trip to Cambridge I was amazed at the lack of old second hand bookshops considering it's a University city, but alas that is the sign of the times, I fear that my daughter won't even know what a bookshop is with so many closing down. So please keep buying in your local bookshop so we can try keep them alive for the next generation.