Monday, October 29, 2012

this week: You-Are-There Reading in Barcelona, London, Paris & with Kerouac, Joyce, Lindbergh..

You-Are-There Reading
There are books i don't want to end, and so i read them slowly. "Ex Libris" by Anne Fadiman is such a book - a collection of essays about reading that "recounts a lifelong love affair with books and language. For Fadiman, as for many passionate readers, the books she loves have become chapters in her own life story." (i blogged about it at the start of this month, here: Ex Libris)

The chapter i reached last week is titled: "You Are There". It is about the special joy and passion to read a book in a place that appears in the book, or, how Fadiman puts it: "the practice of reading books in the places they describe." - Like reading Homer's Odyssey in Greece, Henry David Thoreau's "Walden" in Walden, James Joyce's "Dubliners" or "Ulysses" in Dublin.

Reading those lines made me smile bright, as this is what i try for when i go on journeys: to pick books that have a connection to the place. Now i know the term for it. And it happens to click with the another book i am reading right now, a book from a friend (hallo Inge :) who recently visited Barcelona.

Barcelona: "A Day in Barcelona" (Ein Tag in Barcelona) - Daniel Brühl
Daniel Brühl is a German author and actor whose mother is from Barcelona. In this book, he takes the reader along a personal trip through the city, in a mix of memoir and city impressions. The book starts on the city hill "Tibidabo", and from there he walks down to the city along the Avenida del Tibidabo, and passes a book memory: "House number 32 is the home of the mysterious love drama of Carlos Ruiz Zafon's wonderful Barcelona novel "The Shadow of the Wind". I pause a moment, remembering the story of the cemetery of books...."

now, from Barcelona to Paris, with another book-with-book-story-inside: 

Paris: "Shakespeare & Company - A bookshop in Paris" - Sylvia Beach
Last year, before going to Paris, i looked for a book to take - and picked Sylvia Beach's memoir of her bookshop in Paris. I read her book on the train to Paris, and visited the bookshop the same evening. Such a place of history and literary encounters. Ernest Hemingway was here. Ezra Pound. Gertrude Stein. And so many others, including James Joyce. Who was broke back then, in searched for a publisher for his Ulysses, and received one rejection after the other. It was Sylvia Beach who published him, as indie publisher.
The reason Beach moved to Paris in first place? She was interested in contemporary French literature, and wanted to continue her studies in the very place this literature was written. Her sister lived in Paris, too, she was related to the theatre scene, and together they moved into the Palais Royal - in a room that had a story itself: John Howard Payne had written his "Home Sweet Home" there.

Here's a photo of the bookshop, it's located right at the Seine, opposite Notre-Dame. On the first floor, there's a room that is still offered to writers as stay while in Paris.

For more moments from Paris in this blog, click here: life as a journey / Paris

and to continue this you-are-there-trip: here's the next stop: the London Underground:

London: "Tunnel Vision" - Christopher Ross
Ross wrote this book while working part-time for the London Subway after a longer time of journeys. Actually the book is a reflection on life, inspired by his encounters and observations in the "tunnels". The subtitle is: "Journeys of an Underground Philosopher". Best place to read: while taking the subway. Here's a quote:

"My adventures Underground ... were a different kind of study. A real life class. ... Do we run on rails or are we free? This, for me, was an obsession. Am I a train? Who decided where the tracks lead? Can I get about under my own locomotion, my own steam?"

and 2 more general "You-Are-There" reads, one for the road & one for the beach:

"On the Road" - Jack Kerouac
The classic beat book. First read at home, then read again on a road trip through South France, which is the way to read this book - out there:

"And this was really the way that my whole road experience began, and the things that were to come are too fantastic not to tell."


"Gifts from the Sea" - Anne Morrow Lindbergh 
A book that Lindbergh wrote during a solo stay in a cottage at a beach. Best place to read it: at a beach. This is a book i keep returning to. It accompanied me to Mallorca island this year. Written in 1955, it's timeless and vibrant, like the ocean.

"The sea does not reward those who are too anxious, too greedy, or too impatient. To dig for treasures shows not only impatience and greed, but lack of faith. Patience, patience, patience, is what the sea teaches. Patience and faith. One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach—waiting for a gift from the sea."


It's Monday! What are you reading? This blog post is inspired by the blog series "It's Monday! What are you reading?" which is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey. participating blogs are listed in this Linky Book List

Previous reading blog entries are collected here: bookshelf + monday reads. there also is a visual bookshelf, just click it to get there:

Some lines about me: I'm into roads, stories, places, crossings, and all the things they lead and connect to. I edit BluePrintReview and the blueprint book + lit blog. Apart from being an editor and blogger, I am also an author myself. My new book Worlds Apart launched some weeks ago:

Worlds Apart: the true story of 2 friends, 2 journeys, and 10 life lessons  
In the global world, a traveler from Europe and a teacher from Asia meet in the web, share their journeys, and the joys, longings, and life lessons that wait along the road. Captured in letters and photos that reach from China and India to Germany and the Mediterranean Sea, a dialogue across continents and cultures unfolds: Worl(d)s Apart


Shannon (Giraffe Days) said...

I'm sad that I never saw that bookshop when I was in Paris years ago - and I would have been so close!! Bummer. I'm hoping that one day I'll have more chances to visit France and other places in Europe.

I have to agree - reading a book set in the place you are living/staying gives it a special something. I'm currently living in Toronto and while it's hard to find books that are openly set there, when I do find one I get so much glee out of recognising streets and neighbourhoods. It just makes me feel ... warm and cozy!

The Relentless Reader said...

I *must* get my hands on a copy of Ex sounds wonderful and I keep hearing great things about it :)

Have a great week of reading!

Dorothee said...

Paris - I guess the thing about this city is: there is so much to see, you really can't see all. Or to put it the other way: now you have something waiting for your next trip. I almost missed Monet's water lily museum - the "l'Orangerie". here are some hints for Paris:

Anonymous said...

I've heard of Ex Libris and I really must read it -- it sounds like the perfect book for me.
Like Shannon I missed the opportunity to visit Shakespeare and Co. the last (only) time I was in Paris so WHEN I visit again it will be one of my first stops.
Thanks for visiting my blog!

Jennifer | Mrs Q Book Addict said...

EX Libris is on my wish list. I hope you have a great reading week.

Dorothee said...

"Ex Libris", i really can recommend it. It's a book-lovers book, and as inspiring and timeless as Anne Morrow Lindbergh's "Gift from the Sea".

Rachel Fenton said...

Wonderfy=ully evocative post, as ever, Dorothee - I always leave with something in my thoughts, if not the book in my hand - more's the pity!

I recently finished The Lighthouse, by Alison Moore - wonderful, crisply written novel - really felt like a translation, actually - about a man's retaking a walking route through Germany. All about the roads not taken, really.