Home > About reading, Personal Posts > 2018 in bookish moments

2018 in bookish moments

December 23, 2018 Leave a comment Go to comments

I can’t believe that 2018 is almost over. It’s like a blur and I ran after time on a daily basis. I only posted one Literary Escapade billet, the one about Australia but I snapped bookish pictures all year long, when I attended festivals or simply when books and literature popped up in unexpected places. I’ll do my Best Reads of the Year billet later but first I wanted to take you through my literary snapshots of 2018.

In March, I attended the Fête du Livre de Bron where I had the opportunity to hear the captivating François-Henri Désérable.

Then it was Quais du Polar, a festival that regular readers of this blog have heard of before. It’s always a pleasure to wander in the giant bookshop and attend various panels. The next edition of the festival will be from March 29th to March 31st, 2019 and you can check out the authors who will be there here. If any of you happens to be in Lyon for the festival and want to meet, just send me an email.

In April, I was on the French Riviera and came across these Bancs de la liberté. (Benches of Liberty)

The caption on the bench says:

The Benches of Liberty are at your disposal, bringing together texts, words and pages which allow you to discover authors both from here and elsewhere. All the citizen of the world, on all continents, can freely share moments in time and the emotion of literature.

The bench I saw was in France, but there are some in Spain, Morocco, Mauritania, Senegal, Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina and Chile. Let me know if you’ve encountered any of them. They are dedicated to Antoine de Saint-Exupéry who said in Courrier Sud (1929), La seule vérité est peut-être la paix des livres. (« The only truth is probably the peace coming from books »)

During these holidays, I also came across this lovely trunk where readers can leave books for others to pick.

In May, I visited this incredible bookstore with books everywhere, ceiling included.

I spent a weekend in Paris and I visited the Montparnasse Cemetery. I wanted to write a Literary Escapade billet about it but time ran away from me. I visited as many writers’ tombstones as I could. As you can see, the tomb of Alexandre Dumas fils is as dramatic as La Dame aux camélias and Theophile Gautier’s tomb is as pompous as his style.

The tombstones of Stendhal and the Goncourt brothers were a lot simpler.

I also spent some time in bookshops, like in the Librairie Gallimard in Paris with its stairwell full of pictures of writers

Special displays caught my attention, a typical French one with all the “coup de coeur”, the little notes that libraires put on books to recommend them, one with a fantastic display about Philip Roth after he died and one special about books and boxing.

In November, I wanted to write a billet about the drama around literary prizes in France. We have Literary Prizes Week like some other countries have Fashion Week. The Goncourt Prize went to Leurs enfants après eux by Nicolas Mathieu. And for once, I want to read it. Several juries wanted to grant their prize to Le lambeau by Philippe Lançon. He was wounded during the Charlie Hebdo attack and this book relates his life after this traumatic event. The Femina Jury went first and jury of the Renaudot Prize was a bit pissed off because it was also their choice. They had to pick another book and went for Le Sillon by Valérie Manteau.

Now, Christmas is approaching fast and for the first time this year, I was told not to buy books to a relative because she has everything on her e-reader. As we all know, reading in general and books in particular are in competition with lots of other activities or hobbies these days. It’s common to say that people read less. And yet, books must convey a cozy feeling or something positive if I refer to cafés and shop windows. Just look at the pictures I took at the mall.

Apparently, cafés find that book decors attract clients, both in Moscow and in Lyon. I can understand the marketing rationale behind it, as cafés are associated with reading and authors often go to cafés to write. I didn’t see the marketing rationale between books and sneakers, though.

There are two ways of taking this trend to have books as a décor. The optimist will argue that after seeing books everywhere, some non-readers will pick a book one day and discover the joys of reading. The pessimist will compare these book décors to elevator music and see how uneducated people like me associate classical music to elevators and waiting rooms. So while I’m cautiously optimistic about these bookish décors, I still enjoy them.

I’ll end this with a quote by Jules Renard, one that encompasses well how compulsive readers like me feel about books and literature.

Quand je pense à tous les livres qu’il me reste à lire, j’ai la certitude d’être encore heureux. When I think of all the books I still have to read, I am sure there are happy moments ahead of me.

PS : I still have four billets to write. I hope I’ll have time to wrap them up before December 31st.

  1. December 23, 2018 at 7:56 pm

    I’m behind on my reviews too. Great photos btw.


    • December 23, 2018 at 8:06 pm

      So we’re both behind, I’m glad I’m not the only one.
      I take pictures with my phone and I often feel self-conscious to take pictures in stores…

      Liked by 1 person

  2. December 23, 2018 at 8:01 pm

    Such a lovely post Emma! Wishing you many more bookish moments ahead in 2019 🙂


    • December 23, 2018 at 8:06 pm

      I’m sure there will be more moments like this in 2019.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. December 23, 2018 at 8:17 pm

    Same here with falling behind with the writing… but I love your pictures.
    I am very tempted to come to Quais du Polar but it is right at the time of the actual Brexit, so I’m honestly a bit worried about flights and things. It doesn’t take much to cast this country in turmoil.


    • December 23, 2018 at 9:00 pm

      That’s comforting to see I’m not the only one behind with posts.
      I’m glad you enjoyed the pictures, I always hesitate to use what I photograph with my phone. I know I’m not a great photographer.

      I don’t think there’ll be issues with BREXIT that early. We’re so close to the deadline and with little information. There will be a period of adjustment in order to implement new procedures. I don’t see how everything could be ready in three months. If you’re stuck here, you’ll stay with us 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. December 23, 2018 at 11:20 pm

    The year really did go by quickly.

    You got some great pictures and visited some great places. I thought thaf I was the only one interested in writer’s tombstones. I also like the trend of books as decor especially in restaurants.


    • December 24, 2018 at 1:13 am

      Not at all, Brian, you are not alone. I have photos of writers’ tombstones from everywhere I go. My favourite is Tolstoy’s very simple mound, just covered in grass. It’s just outside Moscow.
      And there must be plenty of others who are interested as well: one of the cemeteries near where I live, runs regular tours of notable graves, and there is one for writers’ graves…


      • December 24, 2018 at 1:24 pm

        I SO want to go to Moscow and visit all the writers museums and cemetery.
        I need to convince my husband who’s not into all these bookish activities.


        • December 24, 2018 at 1:46 pm

          Well… what you could try is the battlefields tours… as we drove towards Tolstoy’s estate, our guide, who usually does history of WW2 tours told us all about the area we were driving through, and it was really interesting.


          • December 24, 2018 at 2:33 pm

            Good idea, thanks for the tip.


    • December 24, 2018 at 1:23 pm

      To be honest, my husband didn’t have a lot of fun visiting the cemetery, he thinks it’s creepy.

      I think visiting writers’ tombstones is interesting. It gives an idea of their place in the world when they died.

      I like book decors too, I always feel at home when I’m surrounded by books.


  5. December 24, 2018 at 9:48 am

    Yes, beautiful photos, particularly those of the tombstones in Montparnasse Cemetery. That must have been a poignant place to visit…

    Wishing you all the best for the year ahead, Emma. Hopefully you’ll have more time to share your literary visits going forward. They’re always interesting to read.


    • December 24, 2018 at 12:32 pm

      The Montparnasse cemetery has many artist tombs. Some from pop singers are special, you can see that a lot of fans come there.
      I’m not sure people rush to see writers’ tombs…

      I wish you all the best too and, yes, I hope I’ll have more time to myself in 2019. I want to do a literary walk in Paris. And I still have in mind a trip to Moscow, but that requires a bit more of preparation.


  6. December 24, 2018 at 11:06 am

    Thanks for an interesting year Emma. I’m planning to have my 70th birthday in Paris so I’ll write Quais du Polar ’21 in my diary for sure! (If any of my family said no books then I’m afraid it would be no presents).


    • December 24, 2018 at 12:28 pm

      Thanks, Bill.
      That’s a great project for your 70th birthday!
      Quais du Polar is usually the last weekend of March. I hope I’ll get to see you when you come to France.


  7. January 2, 2019 at 4:04 pm

    Very nice Emma. I was at a book lined cafe the other day, in Folkestone, and it was a lovely ambience. The book/trainer combo though doesn’t perhaps suggest quite the same regard for books as some of the other photos…


    • January 3, 2019 at 12:29 pm

      Hi Max, it’s nice to hear from you. I hope you’re alright and that you were just overworked.

      I love cafés with book shelves and also the ones with a Proustian ambience.

      I wonder how they imagined this book / sneakers combo.

      PS: Just noticed that “ambience” is like “recommendation”, with an A in French and a E in English (French is recommandation / ambiance)


      • January 6, 2019 at 12:46 pm

        New job and new career – it’s rather eaten up the time I might have made updates in, but otherwise I’m fine. I’m hoping to be a bit more around in 2019.

        It is hard to beat Proustian ambience, or ambiance for that matter.

        Happy new year!


        • January 6, 2019 at 9:02 pm

          I’m glad it’s just a change of job and career and I hope to read one of your reviews soon.

          Happy New Year!


  1. December 29, 2018 at 9:11 pm
  2. January 6, 2019 at 11:06 pm
  3. January 15, 2019 at 2:12 pm

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