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Visiting Bookstores Across Europe

June 13, 2011

I recently came back from two weeks in France and Spain, and while all of the trip was fabulous, I most enjoyed having many, many hours of uninterrupted time on trains and planes to READ! I decided that I would only read “adult” books on this vacation, so I left California with four novels I was dying to read. I knew that these books wouldn’t tide me over for  the entire trip, but one thing I always look forward to when traveling is finding new local bookstores to visit, and this trip did not disappoint.

This charming little bookstore was on Rue Cler, right by my hotel in the 7th arrondissement in Paris. We visited it several times, and the second picture gives just a taste of their colorful children’s section. One of my favorite things about the store, in addition to the friendly staff who were delighted to hear I worked for Random House, was that, in lieu of shelftalkers, the staff wrote their recommendations onto small notecards that were taped directly onto books on the display tables! I thought that was a fun, bold way to show customers which books they really loved.

This was inside a dusty but elegant antique book shop in a small walled city called Girona, just over the Spanish border. The store was four rooms deep and piled from floor to ceiling with books from all genres, ranging from several years to many decades old. Most of the books were Spanish, but I recognized an entire set of Hardy Boys novels dating back to the 1950’s.

Casa del Llibro (sometimes also spelled Llibre) is a Spanish bookstore chain. We visited stores in both Barcelona and Madrid. Inside, the stores resembled an American chain bookstore, like a Borders or Barnes and Noble. The pictures above are from the store that sits on the Ramblas in Barcelona, right in the heart of the busiest tourist area. By this point in the trip, I needed more reading material, so I bought a few books from their large English language section. They had a large English young adult section, including such American favorites as Brisingr, Twilight, Harry Potter and Percy Jackson!

This picture above was taken in a different part of Barcelona, near the Picasso museum. It caught my eye because an entire window was devoted to Junie B. Jones! It was fun to see such a familiar character in the midst of such a far-away place.

I loved seeing so many thriving, busy bookstores throughout Western Europe. Though I know ebooks are becoming popular in Europe, I saw very few people using e-readers, but readers of all kinds deeply engrossed in print books on the metro, at cafes and sitting in sunny parks. And while I do often use my own e-reader, I didn’t pack it for this trip. I love knowing that I will need to find new books to read while traveling, and not knowing what my options might be. I think it leads to experimenting with different types of books than I would typically read.

What about you? Have you discovered any wonderful bookstores while traveling? Do you load up your e-readers before a big trip or do you like to see what you’ll come across in a new place? Please share below!

*And if anyone is interested, my two favorite books I read on this trip were Room by Emma Donoghue and A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan. I will boldly declare Goon Squad one of the best books I’ve read all year!


7 Comments leave one →
  1. June 13, 2011 8:14 am

    This is awesome! And I love the title of your blog. I found you today on the Readomattic here on WP, yup, I’m also a random reader. You now have a new follower.

  2. June 13, 2011 8:29 am

    We’re going to the UK on the 23rd and I’m already trying to figure out how many books I need to take.

  3. June 13, 2011 11:59 am

    The book shop in Girona looks incredible.

  4. Deanna permalink
    June 13, 2011 12:37 pm

    Great post & pics Erin! I love browsing bookstores in other countries. I can’t believe that Junie B. window! I wonder how her way of speaking translates.

  5. June 13, 2011 2:02 pm

    I can’t recall running into too many bookstores while traveling, but I do clearly remember my joy in finding a bookstore in Japan with a small English section. I spent just about every yen I had loading up on books! A few weeks later, I was clued in to, but I’m glad I got that unexpected bookstore experience. I still love the feel of being surrounded by books, and it’s especially exhilarating when 98% of them are in another language. (“Holy cow, I’m really not in Kansas!”)

  6. June 13, 2011 10:59 pm

    So awesome!!

  7. August 22, 2011 8:05 pm

    Do you Have the Sister Hood by the Author Adrian clifford.
    His book is about Child Prostitution in Spain.
    and in his word: I Hope the children in my books have a better life that the real ones.

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