Monday, March 05, 2012

Travelling for books


The trip my wife and I made to Nancy had nothing philosophical. Actually we did not go there for the town but for seeing Rossini’s opera “L’Italiana in Algeri”. In terms of the famous Michelin travel guides, the performance was not only worth a detour; it was worth the travel. Once we were there, we did other things, as well; that’s clear. We admired the famous golden gates that give entrance to the central Stanislas Square and we did also some other sightseeing. I must say that we failed to see most of the Art Nouveau, a trend in art that had its origin in Nancy. We saw much of it, of course, but we didn’t give it special attention. Instead we went to the Aquarium Museum. No, not for looking at the strange creatures that live under the level of the sea, although we did do that once we were there. We went there for an exposition of the beautiful pictures that the French photographer Vincent Munier had made of nature and wildlife. But in the end, I couldn’t also refrain from entering a few bookshops. It’s a thing I always do on a holiday abroad. Today you can order books from everywhere in the world on the Internet, but still the best way to buy a book is going to a real shop. Losing your awareness of the world around you when walking along the tables and cases full of interesting (and also not so interesting) books. Looking for stimulants of your mind and for food for new ideas. Seeing and feeling the paper before buying, and reading a bit in the books for judging whether they are really what you are looking for. And for seeing what themes and subjects people elsewhere are interested in.
In fact, it wasn’t so that I started to look for bookshops only after my arrival in Nancy. At home I had already googled where I had to go and where I had the best chances for finding books I would like. When preparing a trip and looking for interesting things in a region or town I am going to visit, bookshops are among the latter. And during the years, I have gathered a range of addresses of bookshops I simply must visit if I am happen to be there, both in the Netherlands and in many towns abroad that I may pass on my trips, on the journey out or on the journey home. Bookshops that are worth a detour and sometimes even the travel. And now I can also add one in Nancy to my list. Does I have to say yet that I didn’t leave the town with empty hands?

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