|Foyles in London|
The cafe at Foyles, a stunning bookstore in London, was impossibly crowded, so I descended to a lower floor with my iced tea and asked a bookseller if there were any place to sit. Rather apologetically, he indicated the benches by the elevators. "Is there really no place upstairs?" "No, there's nothing." "The wrong time of day," he speculated. "I don't know what the right time would be," I said, laughing. "Not Saturday," he suggested.
It was a relief to sit and sip iced tea. When you've been springing up and down for an hour - thank God I wore springy sneakers - so as to examine the shelves as thoroughly as possible, you are grateful for a bench and the kindness of strangers, as Blanche Dubois said.
The courteous booksellers at Foyles are like magical beings who will not disturb your biblio-trance but can summon up any book at will.
I would like to see a cozy chair or two. Otherwise it's perfect.
LONDON REGRETS. I didn't make it to Daunt Books, an Edwardian bookshop founded by James Daunt, who is now CEO of Barnes and Noble in the U.S., which he has turned around financially, and CEO of Waterstones in the UK, a huge, wonderful chain bookstore which he also saved.
You can read more about Daunt in a fascinating article in The New York Times, "How Barnes & Noble Went From Villain to Hero."
I look forward to seeing Hello, Bookstore, a documentary about an independent bookstore in Lenox, Massachusetts, called simply The Bookstore, owned by Matthew Tannenbaum, who saved it during the pandemic by a Go-Fund-Me drive.
Michael Dirda at The Washington Post reviewed Marius Kociejowski's memoir, A Factotum in the Book Trade, as well as other new books about books.
The TLS reviews Chronicles of a Cairo Bookseller by Nadia Wassef.
Dear Readers, What are your favorite bookstores in the U.S., Canada, the UK, and other countries?