RBR in Paris

We’re taking a break from our regularly scheduled programming to talk book shopping en Paris. Paris is where writers come to write, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t bring a stack of blank notebooks, but even more so it’s where readers come to read. In between wine and macaron stops I’ve been hitting bookstores and scouring second-hand stalls.


Shakespeare and Company is a must-visit but also a really annoying place to shop. There’s a line outside, the store is packed, the antiquarian side of the bookshop is only open 10 hours a week and there are just so many people. But it’s dazzling and I’d go back everyday. The reading room and writer’s library upstairs reeked of wisdom and history and the fiction selection was a carefully selected mix of new literary fiction and classics by Shakespeare and Company alums.

From there I headed to the banks of the Seine where there are scores of booksellers who have set up kiosks for rare books and posters. Prices aren’t marked so if you’re patient and willing to bargain you can get a great deal. Alternatively, if your French isn’t great, you may wind up overpaying for a volume just because it’s old, even though it has no real value.

The day ended at Delmain on rue Saint-Honore. They had a lovely mix of antiquarian French classics (these guys really love Balzac and Hugo, huh?), limited edition pressings of poetry, and Paris-centric fiction. No English-language collection that I saw but I did pick up a 1922 French language edition of Rudyard Kipling’s Kim that I’m excited to torture my nephews with when they get a bit older.

A bientot and happy new year from Red Brick Reads.


The photographs of Allen Ginsberg – free exhibition

Neal Cassady and Natalie Jackson underneath movie marquee, San Francisco

There was a time in all of (most of) our lives when the Beat generation writers were just it, wasn’t there? Do you remember being a teenager and reading Howl? Or On the Road? How it spoke to you? How understood you felt? Most of us grow out of that and eventually we think that Jack Kerouac should get a job and stop borrowing money from people and that they should all do less drugs, get more sleep and use birth control but there was a time when we got them and they got us, those writers.

I can’t make you seventeen again but if you want to understand a bit more about those writers who made you feel so understood, there’s an exhibition on at the University of Toronto Art Centre (UTAC) that may help.

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