Diary: Geoffrey O’Brien, Paris—Dream of book…

Often I daydream of a city awash in bookstores—not just in one or two neighborhoods, but emerging on the most unexpected streets and alleyways—bookstores with histories, some around for many decades, some dating back more than a century; in a few copiously stocked establishments, a huge range of books—popular, literary, scholarly, obscure—promiscuously sharing the same shelves; in other, smaller spaces, books meeting a multitude of specialized tastes and interests, acquainting you with the products of ever more esoteric publishers and the writings of authors perhaps unknown to you who here receive the veneration due to classics. With each step—each fresh book cover—you find yourself initiated not only into new releases but whole new fields of knowledge—or old fields of knowledge, in dimmer interiors where antique volumes fill every available bit of room, sometimes simply piled up on the floor as in someone’s overcrowded apartment. When the daydream becomes too persistent, I figure it is time for Paris again.

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