Bookshops: A Reader’s History

tags: books

I really tried with this book, but I had to abandon it.

This is one of those points that doesn’t really have a point. It’s just a meandering journey through one guy’s love of bookshops around the world. He apparently visited 1,000 of them.

I read his Wikipedia page, where I found this:

He uses to remark the importance of bookshops in a post-digital era. He points out that people are reconnecting to the material. Now, I’m not against that, but his writing style is wildly obtuse and even a little arrogant. He plays “inside baseball” a lot – makes references I didn’t get, and talks about bookshops in pseudo-spiritual terms that just fall flat.

Don’t get me wrong, I like bookstores as much as anyone, but the writing was annoyingly pompous in places, and hard to follow.

Like, seriously – consider this quote:

The book will work this way: it will embrace the comfort of orderly reading and digressions and contradictions that disturb or threaten; it will re-create possible traditions and at the same time insist it only speaks of examples, exceptions from a map and a chronology of bookshops that is is impossible to re-create, that is made up of absence and oblivion, suggests analyst and synecdoche, a collection of glittering shards and left over remnants from a history history of encyclopedia that can never be written.


(The fact that the author is Spanish may also play into it. The writing feels like it was written in something other than English then translated. I had much the same problem with another recent book translated from French. In fact, the two books feel very similar in tone.)

I keep bailing out of chapters in the middle, and then trying the next chapter. I think I completely finished one chapter out of five or six, then I quit it.

Book Info

Jorge Carrion

Here are some notes I took on the acquisition of this book:

Bought at City Lights in San Francisco

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