Home > About reading, Personal Posts > Literary escapade: Holiday bookish snippets

Literary escapade: Holiday bookish snippets

I’m back home from a three weeks holiday break and as usual, I’ve collected random bookish pictures and facts.

Park and Read, this parking meter seems to say…

Books left for grabs, by the beach

Beautiful library in Casa Museu Freitas. (Sorry for the poor quality of the pictures, I’m not a professional photographer and I don’t get to visit places when the light is at its best for photos.)

A corner to read by the fire, a corner to play games and shelves of books…I’d prefer a décor in lighter tones since I’m not fond of the red-dark-wood-man-cave vibe but I’d love to have such a spacious read-and-chill room.  

Of course, I tend to visit bookstores. Here’s one that looks more like a book cave than anything else:

Books are piled everywhere. They are filed in a computer system but only the owner seems to be able to locate a specific book. The reader walks slowly in the aisles, tries not to bump into anything in fear of starting an uncontrollable domino effect. This place is fascinating.

While wandering in another bookshop, I stumbled upon a school edition of No et moi by Delphine de Vigan. This novella is on the school syllabus for middle school and look at the format of the book: it screams ‘I’m homework!’ and not ‘Please read me, it’ll be fun’.

It’s a disaster. The cover mentions a dossier and exercises. The actual story only begins after 22 pages of explanations that are, in my opinion, part of the teacher’s job as a middleman between the text and the students. And then, on each page, you have numbers to locate specific sentences in class and dissect them. Where’s the pleasure of reading in that?

Let’s face it, there’s little chance that a middle school student will have fun reading Le Cid by Corneille. The odds of instilling undying love for books with Le Cid are close to zero. These odds improve with books like No et moi, stories that teenagers who don’t read might enjoy. And this edition, it’s like going to a blind date with Literature and she has not removed her green face mask, her curlers and she’s wearing her tattered bathrobe. It kills the mood. It’s like watching a movie with the description of all the special effects in the subtitles. It’s distracting, you’re so blinded by the mechanics that you forget to enjoy yourself.

I think that we have our priorities in the wrong order. In times where books are in competition with videogames, TV shows and social networks, the first aim in school should be to give the kids the reading bug. The rest will come with it. The reading bug is a lifelong thing, a great companion for life.

Another bookstore in Lisbon.

Don’t ask me why it’s written in French on the walls. Inside, the space is gorgeous with its old wooden shelves.

Another bookstore, and I found funny tote bags for my friends. Here are two of them:

I walked a street covered with portraits and pictures made with recycled cans. Here’s Fernando Pessoa

Google translate says that the caption means “it’s all worth it when the soul is not small”. And I have to end this post with a Mafalda picture, from the same street.

The caption seems to say “This is the rubber to erase ideologies”. Very Mafalda, if I may say. If a Portuguese native speaker sees this, please feel free to elaborate about the captions and correct the automatic translation.

An article of the FT Weekend caught my attention in a hotel. It said Kerouac, but cleaner? A journalist decided to check out what road trips could be with an electric car and did one between San Francisco and Reno, Nevada. Let’s say it’s not as romantic as On the Road. It reminded me of On the Holloway Road by Andrew Blackman, his debut novel in which he shows that road trips à la Kerouac on British highways are what American coffee is to espressos.

I had a lot of books with me on the first leg of my holidays…

some I brought with me to read, some because I needed to catch up on billets, some aren’t my TBR, and some I bought during my stay. On the second leg, I intended to read American Pastoral but I didn’t have enough quality reading time for that. Partie remise! 🙂

That’s all, Folks! I hope you’re having a great summer.

  1. August 18, 2019 at 5:10 pm

    Lisbon has such beautiful bookstores! It made me wish I could read Portuguese, since I could see so clearly what I was missing. Thanks for this billet.


    • August 18, 2019 at 5:49 pm

      Going to Lisbon wasn’t exactly the plan but we made the best of it.
      They have books in French, which always surprises me.
      Going to Portugal is a way to understand how it feels to be an Anglophone tourist: lots and lots of people in the shops, restaurants, museums… speak French. Each time, I’m surprised that I don’t have to speak English.


  2. August 18, 2019 at 5:42 pm

    You didn’t carry all those books with you??? Love that parking/reading meter – so very retro


    • August 18, 2019 at 5:46 pm

      Technically, the car carried the books. 🙂

      I loved the parking meter too. I wish we had some decorated like that too.


      • August 19, 2019 at 10:18 pm

        They would definitely make our streets more interesting than green boxes which spew out a ticket if you can manage to get them to work


        • August 20, 2019 at 6:55 am

          I agree. We have these complicated ones where you need to enter your licence plate. All in French. I saw some poor tourists struggling with it before the people behind them on the line helped them. *sigh*


          • August 20, 2019 at 3:06 pm

            we have the same ones – in Wales we get a choice of doing the transaction in Welsh or English. I can just about cope with the English but the Welsh has me in a complete spin


            • August 20, 2019 at 9:00 pm

              🙂 you need a master’s degree to operate them!

              Liked by 1 person

  3. August 18, 2019 at 5:51 pm

    What a lovely bookish holiday! I wish we had parking meters like that in the UK, it looks wonderful.


    • August 18, 2019 at 5:55 pm

      Thanks! I wish all parking meters were like this or at least decorated.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. August 18, 2019 at 6:41 pm

    Is that a kindle on the top of the pile on the left?


  5. August 18, 2019 at 7:34 pm

    What beautiful pictures and what a wonderful holiday! i laughed, but ruefully, at your description of that set reading book – totally agree that the thing is to get the reading bug going!


    • August 18, 2019 at 10:53 pm

      This edition annoys me. The horror: they have a similar one for Life Before Us.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. August 19, 2019 at 1:12 am

    Glad to see an Australian spine in that stack of books. “Just going to jump in the car and duck down to Portugal”. How romantic is that? “I’m going to drive for a day and end up in some little farming community” just doesn’t have the same ring to it.


    • August 19, 2019 at 5:38 am

      Amen to that!


      • August 19, 2019 at 5:36 pm

        Bbought at Readings last year 🙂


    • August 19, 2019 at 5:36 pm

      I bought this one in Melbourne last year.

      The stop in Lisbon was not romantic at all, we were stuck there because our plane was cancelled. Truly, there are worst places to be stranded than Lisbon. We decided to visit the city again. “When you have lemons, you make lemonade; when stuck in Lisbon, you have a Lisbonade” 🙂


  7. Marina Sofia
    August 19, 2019 at 2:18 pm

    That’s a very ambitious pile of books, Emma! Your clothes requirements must have been minimal!


    • August 19, 2019 at 5:39 pm

      Well, I might have had a binge at a charity shop. So I had some unread books, some to be “reviewed” and new ones.
      The trunk of the car is big, fortunately. And I’m not the kind of woman who travels with 5 pairs of shoes and an extensive wardrobe.


  8. August 19, 2019 at 10:22 pm

    The caption beneath Fernando Pessoa’s picture was taken from his poem Mar Português (Portuguese Sea)! If you’re interested, here is the poem in Portuguese in its entirety – http://arquivopessoa.net/textos/2405; and I found a translation -https://www.scottishpoetrylibrary.org.uk/poem/portuguese-sea/. That particular quote is translated as “Everything’s worth doing If the soul of the doer isn’t small.”


    • August 20, 2019 at 6:57 am

      Thanks a lot for your comment. I hoped you’d pass by and help us.
      Now I wonder if the Mafalda image is a copy of an original comic or a new one.

      Liked by 1 person

      • August 20, 2019 at 8:27 pm

        I think it’s a copy of an original comic, but I’m not totally sure.


        • August 20, 2019 at 8:59 pm

          I think so too. Now I want to re-read them all to find this particular drawing. (I think I have the whole collection at home)

          Liked by 1 person

  9. September 6, 2019 at 6:09 pm

    Looks like you went to a lot of nice places and I’m not sure I feel sorry for you for having got stuck in Lisbon. That “book cave” looks like a nice place to get lost in! How many books did you manage to read? I’m just back from three weeks of travelling and am somewhat shocked that I’ve only read two books. Luckily they were good ones.


    • September 7, 2019 at 4:35 pm

      I’ve read seven books during the holidays but mostly during the two weeks where we just stayed at the beach and rest. When we started travelling, I didn’t read much.


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