Holiday Activities: Going to the Bookshop and Library

Just another day of holidays, but with coughs and flu looming, we didn’t go skiing. Instead, my sons and I (all of us great readers) had to return some books to the library and passed by the only two bookshops in the area. The first one is a standard bookshop, which is a resurrected version of the previous bookshop which had gone bankrupt and was rescued by an association of book lovers. We stopped there to collect a book we had ordered, one that my older son needed for his French classes: a junior edition of the medieval collection of animal stories/fables ‘Le roman de renart’ (roughly translated as: The Novel of the Fox).

Then we passed by the other bookshop, which specialises in BD (bandes dessinées – graphic novels and comic books), where I had acquired my original Max Cabanes adaptation of Manchette’s novel Fatale. I had chatted with Cabanes in Lyon and he told me he was redoing and continuing another Manchette adaptation, so I couldn’t resist asking if they had his latest. They did, so I acquired that – it’s a visual delight, as well as being based upon one of my favourite French noir authors.

While Younger Son was reading another BD cover to cover, Older Son asked me to buy the latest in the series ‘Seuls’, a Franco-Belgian children’s fantasy thriller about children having to cope alone in a world without adults. (Later on we discover the children are all dead.) Twice a winner in the youth category at Angouleme Festival, and winner of the Grand Prize of the Mickey Mouse Journal. The well-intentioned bookseller advised me to read these comic books with my boys, to make sure that they wouldn’t get scared. Then, when my eldest scoffed, claiming proudly that he was a teenager now and not easily scared, we received a zombie poster for him to put up on his wall, as well as a magazine with extracts from all the latest releases.


And that is why we love going into real bookshops: we spent a happy morning browsing, discovering new things, making mental notes about what to buy next time, and feeling the love of books and the personalised service of the booksellers. We never leave empty-handed.

tempsglacThe library run also ended with 6 books: 4 BD for the boys (fun holiday reading, as they also have a bit of a TBR pile at home) and 2 books I wasn’t intending to get… secret TBR Triple Dog Dare and all that… Fred Vargas’ Temps Glaciaires (the latest Adamsberg mystery, published in 2015) and Emmanuel Carrere’s  D’autres vies que la mienne (Lives Other Than My Own) – which is a story about grief and loss, but also a kind of memoir of how a narcissist became a more empathetic human being.





22 thoughts on “Holiday Activities: Going to the Bookshop and Library”

  1. Oh, there is absolutely nothing like a bookshop, is there, Marina Sofia? And how wonderful it is when your children want books, too, and love them just as you do. I hope you all get/stay healthy!

  2. Sounds like a fun day. I do like a browse myself! I haven’t yet tried Manchette, though I’m sure I must have something from him lurking in a tub or two. THREE TO KILL – I just checked!

  3. had to return some books to the library and passed by the only two bookshops in the area

    . . . even though this involved taking a route 17 miles longer than the direct one, you mean?

    Glad to hear you had such a good time!

    1. Ahem! Let’s put it this way: the library is in our village, while the bookshops are in the neighbouring village, so in a sense you are right (only 3 km difference though). But we had to go to the first bookshop anyway because we had ordered that book and it had arrived, so…

    1. I’m a big Vargas fan too and BD are really such a way of life here in France – there is something for all subjects. We have a series covering the history of France, another about dinosaurs, biographies, etc.

    1. Did you have to study him then? I vaguely remember doing ‘Le roman de la rose’ in high school, but not this one. Having my kids go through the French system is doing wonders for my knowledge of classical French literature.

      1. Yes, I did a unit on Medieval Literature during which I read Reynard, Mallory and Margery Kempe. The later is still a favourite (I was the only person in the group to read her autobiography in her entirety, I thought it was great.)

  4. Now you see the thing is that actually you didn’t pass by the bookshops, you went into them! You had me worried at first. How could I possibly like someone so much and then find that they were capable of walking past a bookshop without going into it? Thank goodness ‘passing by’ meant something different to you from what it meant to me 🙂

    1. Ha, ha, good one! I’ve never seen a bookshop I could walk past. ‘Passing by’ is ‘dropping in’ for me, as when friends or neighbours knock on your door and say, ‘I was just passing by…’. I am the dream customer of many a bookseller (and librarian).

  5. You know, I hardly ever go to bookshops any more and you’ve just made me realise how much I miss the random discovery aspect of it. I feel my TBR will not thank you for this post… 😉

    1. Admittedly, the last thing I need is to buy more books, but… I’ve given up buying clothes and was never much one for gadgets or jewellery, so it’s my only vice!

  6. It sounds like a wonderful day to me! Bookshops are great and as much as I love the convenience of online I miss the days of browsing in bookshops (we only have one on the island now) and finding unknown treasures.

  7. I wish I could do that with my children but none of them reads. Such a disappointment.

    I have terrible memories of sitting in class and discussing Le roman de Renart. It was in primary school, I can see myself fighting the boredom. My daughter read it too, in 6ème, she liked it. So I hope your son will like it too.

    I love going to bookshops as well and even if I like my Kindle nothing beats browsing through books in a store.
    There’s no English equivalent to BD, is there? I’ve always felt it’s a larger genre than comic books here.

    1. Ah, don’t worry, my own children go through moments when they only want to know about video games and read nothing… then they find an author or series that they like and are back reading again. I will really, really miss BD when I go back to the UK – you are starting to find some over there, but they are more expensive and not such a huge variety.

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