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Shakespeare and Company, Paris: A History of the Rag and Bone Shop of the Heart

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4.63  ·  Rating details ·  288 ratings  ·  67 reviews
This is a first-ever history of the legendary bohemian bookstore in Paris. It interweaves essays and poetry from dozens of writers associated with the shop--Allen Ginsberg, Anaïs Nin, Ethan Hawke, Robert Stone and Jeanette Winterson, among others--with hundreds of never-before-seen archival pieces. It includes photographs of James Baldwin, William Burroughs and Langston Hu ...more
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published September 27th 2016 by Shakespeare and Company Paris (first published 2016)
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4.63  · 
Rating details
 ·  288 ratings  ·  67 reviews


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Jeremy
Jul 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely loved this book. I smiled all the way through. What a storied history.

After reading, I realized I had picked a few books from George's journal notes in the early part to save to a list for my future reading. Only after reading was it clear that across the miles and time that George is still sharing books.
Rayene ZiaÐi
I understand now why George couldn't write another word after the title bc anything after it paled in comparison, i found among the pages full of the Tumbleweeds's biographies my own feelings mirrored, the generosity i myself experienced in Shakespeare and co, the Lovely people i met there, the Atmosphere itself, the feeling that this is more than a bookshop, that the walls have been witness to so many things;
The short time i spent in Shakespeare and co was one of the few moments i felt complete
...more
Constance
Jul 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book is absolutely magical. It brings me back to the moment of wonder when I walked through the doors of this amazing place and lights the fire of desire to return. Even though I never met George, after reading this book, I feel as if he is now part of my soul. The bookstore and the book have rekindled my desire to read and made words mean something again. I will be reading this book over and over until the pages are unable to be read.
Helen White
Jul 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, art
A comprehensive history of the Paris bookshop Shakespeare and Co. Beautiful collection of photos, stories, cartoons and poems. Makes you want to visit as soon as possible.
Esmay
Nov 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shall we invent a way to travel through time? Yes? That's great! You should know that I (desperately) want to go back to the moment I walked into the world of Shakespeare & Company. It's probably the most enchanting place I've ever visited. To use the words of Jeanette Winterson:

'The shop is like a Tardis - modest enough on the outside, a labyrinth on the inside. Every vertical space is shelved with books of every kind. A rickety staircase carries you like a fairy-tale hero to a warren of r
...more
Jonathan
Jan 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, lives
A wonderful book about the world famous Parisian bookshop, drawing together photos, drawings, workers' autobiographies, writers' memoirs, and even a comic strip, running alongside a fascinating chronology of the shop and its founder, George Whitman. I visited it a few years ago, then read a piece by Jeanette Winterson about the time when she stayed and worked there. All it took was a glance at this book to make me want to read more about it. The design and production values are yet another examp ...more
Alex Raby
Jun 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
What a lovely lovely book. I've been to Shakespeare & Co before, but I MUST go again, now having a way better sense of its vast and rich history. If I had known it was an option to stay there....Loved all the pictures (A child through and through haha) and the excepts of poetry and biographies and anecdotes from Tumbleweeds. The magic of the place and of George is preserved in this book and I'm so grateful that I got to touch a piece of it.
Amanda
Mar 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
"Be not inhospitable to strangers, lest they be angels in disguise."
Laura Hoffman Brauman
Nov 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shakespeare and Company is one of the most famous bookstores in the world. Sylvia Beach started it in 1919 as a young American living in Paris. It was an anchor for so many famous writers -- Hemmingway, Fitzgerald, James Joyce, Gertrude Stein. Writers would come and literally stay at the bookstore. In 1941, the bookstore was closed and Sylvia was interned. After WWII, George Whitman, a friend of Sylvia's, opened it up again and it has remained both a wonderful bookstore and a gathering place for ...more
Kim
Nov 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is an incredibly moving book about a magical bookshop. We need more Georges in the world and I hope Shakespeare and Co has every success without losing it's essence. What great writers are yet to pass through it's doors.
"Be not inhospitable to strangers, lest they be angels in disguise."

"There are so many great books in the world all of them islands in the infinity of man's ignorance." George Whitman (page 66)

What a life!

"What a piece of work is a man! how noble in reason!
how infinite in
...more
Francine Maessen
Mar 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
This book is só lovely. It's wonderful to read about the history of this famous bookstore, but the book is not just about that, there's also beautiful pictures and a lot of contributions by famous writers and by some tumbleweeds. There's a lot of material from George Whitman's archives and even a small graphic novel-part about Sylvia Beach's life. A must-read for anyone who loves Shakespeare and Company.
Alan
A book and a monument that you can wander through just as if you were in a bookstore itself.

This is a truly wonderful tribute to and history of the Shakespeare and Company bookstore in Paris. It includes a mini-graphic novel that tells the story of Sylvia Beach's original Paris book store from the 1920's-1930's which was closed due to the German occupation of WWII and never reopened. It tells the story of George Whitman's youth through his diary entries and then his founding of his own store cal
...more
Valerie San Filippo
Feb 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I decided to read this book when I was feeling particularly frayed, thinned, washed out. I thought it would be a nice bit of light reading. The history of a bookshop; what could be nicer? Instead, I found myself simultaneously euphoric and heartbroken. I'm not the sort of person who cries when they read, but I cried with this book. It was so genuine. I felt shattered. It's the story of the shop, but an autobiography. The character of Shakespeare & Co. is imbued in everything from this books ...more
Mark Hiser
OK. While it is not a great book, it is a book I thoroughly enjoyed. I even wrote to the bookshop the following:

I am a lover of books. I taught high school English for 30 years and now teach composition and literature at the college level. This past year, after moving to a new neighborhood, I co-founded a community book group that has grown from 6 to 23 members in less than a year. As Thomas Jefferson wrote, "I cannot live without books."

I found myself unable to stop reading your bookshop's hist
...more
Paperback
Nov 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
Well, that settles it. I must visit this masterpiece.
To anyone who loves bookshops, loves books, or loves curiosities, please pick this up this gem. Chockful of pictures, poetry, newspaper clippings, comics, and short bios written by guests of the store (appropriately-dubbed "Tumbleweeds"), this reads more like a scrapbook than a history book. Shakespeare and Company has an extensive history, stretching over a century, the helm passing from Sylvia Beach to George Whitman to Sylvia Whitman, court
...more
Debi G.
Jan 16, 2017 rated it liked it
This book has a lovely, appealing layout with all sorts of printed ephemera concerning the storied shop. If you're looking to reminisce or become enthused about visiting Paris, this book will stoke the flames.

Joel
May 01, 2018 rated it liked it
“Read a book a day” was one of the guidelines of George Whitman to those “tumbleweeds” who visited his English language bookstore Shakespeare and Company in the Latin Quarter of Paris across the Seine from Notre Dame Cathedral.

So what better way to honor that request than with a freshly purchased copy of “Shakespeare and Company: A History of the Rag & Bone Shop of the Heart”; the autobiography of a hundred year old bookstore, and at the same time a tribute to the man who gave his life to bo
...more
Abbie Simons
Dec 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
My favorite book I've read this year. An absolute dream.

It chronicles the life of a Parisian bookstore and its eccentric American owner (the store and the man are sort of strangely intertwined, reflecting one another. Both are wild and sprawling and messy and fiery and filled with stories (Double entendre. High five.)). George Whitman apparently spent his childhood in China, his youth hitchhiking around Mexico and serving in the army, and then somehow ended up living in Paris for 50 years all t
...more
Denis
Nov 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This marvelous book is as heartwarming, lovely, and whimsical as the real bookstore that is its subject. Shakespeare and company is one of Paris’ most beloved and iconic stores: it’s a place of wonders where you can spend hours leaving through troves of books, and even sleep. I used to go there a lot when living in Paris - and, yes, I do miss it... This volume is basically a biography of this paradise for book lovers, but a biography as delightfully original as the place itself. There is a chron ...more
Tabitha Vohn
I first discovered the Shakespeare & Company bookstore through Before Sunset, one of my favorite films of all time. A bookstore that let's you sleep there? And in Paris? How cool is that! So when my husband and I traveled to Paris last summer, I knew I had to visit.

It was magical!!! Unprecedented. Nowhere else like it on the planet. Such a beautiful chaos. The place was packed with bibliophiles. Someone was playing "Let Her Go" on the piano on the first floor. I only had about 20 minutes to
...more
Bruce Mackenzie
Even had I never heard of Shakespeare and Company, after reading this book I would have a burning desire to visit. There are four books jammed between the covers of this single volume. There are the travel journals of George Whitman. There is the biography of George from his teens to the time of his death at age 98. There is the history of the bookstore itself, complete with letters from writers, poetry, short bios of the "tumbleweeds", those people who called the bookstore home for however a br ...more
Madeline Puckett
Jun 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book chronicling the story of Shakespeare & Co. was remarkably well-done. It follows the story of the shop from its founding by Sylvia Beach, George Whitman's purchase and establishment, all the way through to its existence today under Sylvia Whitman's ownership.

The photography, Tumbleweed bios, letters, and beautiful drawings throughout weave together attempt to capture the bookshop at its heart, and do a magnificent job of it. I loved the graphic story of Sylvia Beach's ownership, wit
...more
Mike Violano
Feb 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It's hard to describe this book which was a great read. It's basically the biography of a bookstore from the 1950s to the day before yesterday filled with photos of writers who were there in the past and personal memoirs and posts from people who walked the aisles or slept there as a "tumbleweed". "In the year 1600, this building was a monastery..." said the store's owner George Whitman who passed away in 2011. His daughter Sylvia carries on the wonderful traditions of Shakespeare and Company an ...more
Bruce Reiter
Feb 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I love when an author surprises me with a change of structure. Ms Halverson has done this as an editor through the use of multiple literary elements and media. It could be described as a "wanderer's style", much as a person wanders among the library stacks or a bookshop. From the illustrated comic/cartoon of the original Shakespeare and Company of Sylvia Beach through the life journey of George Whitman and the single page autobiographies of various "Tumbleweeds" the editor guides the reader to v ...more
Hali
Jul 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
You know the feeling of wanting to crawl instead a story and live there? That’s how I felt reading this book. I feel quite disheartened at the fact that I’m learning of this lovely book shop at the age of 34, after marriage and a job and children. I’ve been to Shakespeare & company and admired it’s charm. I knew of the Tumbleweeds and Sylvia’s original shop. I did not know of the magic that George brought to this shop and to the thousands of people who shared in the magic with him. I hope on ...more
Karen
Sep 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A fantastic insight into this amazing store.
My husband had bought me this book as we’d never been able to visit the store on our Paris trips.
Fortunately we finally got the chance to visit in July this year. I found it a very emotional experience.
The book perfectly captures the ambience of the place and the reason it draws so many people in.
It was great to learn more about George Whitman who was the driving force behind the store. I also loved learning about the Tumbleweeds who’ve stayed ther
...more
Ray Else
Jul 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Having lived in Paris from 1988 to 1993, and returned many times, and especially after being shortlisted in the Shakespeare and Company novella contest a few years back, I had to get the book and reminisce. The book is a good scrapbook of the store that I liked more for what it represented than the physical store itself (when I visited in the late 80s the store was a great disheveled monument - maybe a good thing it burned in 1990 so they could fix it up!). It is still a wish of mine to be asked ...more
Sara Bauer
May 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
If you're at all curious about the famed American-owned bookshop in Paris, read this book. It's filled with wisdom, brilliant anecdotes, and a sense of atmosphere that transports you right to S&C's front steps.

As I hope to join the illustrious tribe of tumbleweeds in 202o, this was perfect prep for an experience that promises to be anything but ordinary. Enliven your love for books with this beautifully designed, perfectly edited masterpiece that reads more love letter than chunk of history
...more
Anthony Alaniz
Jun 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
There are few books that have made me want to leave my world for a mysterious one across the ocean. The stories, the passion, the love that pours from George and the bookstore is unmatched in today’s world. It’s more a history of a man than the bookstore, but the two are inseparable. It’s sad George is no longer with us, and yet, reading this book has made me feel a connection to someone I’ve never met.
Paula
Jun 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography, 2018, period
This book is a scrapbook of collected memories of the best bookshop in the world. If you love books, Paris, history and nostalgia, this book encompasses them all in droves. A book I will keep returning to I’m sure, the pages and stories I will never tire of.
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