George Whitman & Shakespeare And Company

Shakespeare & Company, Paris, George Whitman

Shakespeare And Company - September 2010 - Elizabeth Harper (In Red)

I was sad to read this morning that George Whitman had died, but as he was 98 and appeared to have lived the life he wanted almost to the end, I think my sad feelings were more out of concern for the end of an era than the death of a man I had not met.

His only child, Sylvia Beach Whitman has been managing the famous bookstore for some time and I imagine it will continue to be a haven for those who wish to pop in to an English-speaking bookstore while in Paris.

I’ve been fortunate to visit Paris four times, the first of which was when I was 19 in late December 1979. I remember being focused on seeing the Louvre and Notre-Dame and excited to be in Paris for New Year’s Eve, but I don’t remember stopping by Shakespeare And Company at that time.

Shakespeare And Company - February 2009 - Elizabeth Harper (In Brown)

Ten years later I went back to Paris with my then 12 year-old daughter, Miranda for the millennium New Year celebration and made time to visit the bookstore and have the wet looking photo below taken while I was there.

Shakespeare & Company - December 1999

There’s generally a lot of activity both inside and out of Shakespeare And Company and the photo above gives you a glimpse of what I’m talking about. I always love sneaking a peek over the shoulders of artists who stop to paint and over to the left you can see another part of the bookstore which deals with antiquarian books.

Notice the man dressed in white … I thought he looked a bit like author, Tom Wolfe.

Speaking of artists, that’s my talented sister Margaret coming though the door having just made a purchase. I always look for something special when I’m there. I particularly like the stamp you can get when you buy a book.

Shakespeare And Company Stamp

There’s an inscription I can’t read in my book and I thought maybe one of my French-speaking friends could help out with a translation.

The bookstore is full of quirky places that I did not photograph, but this blogger has some great interior shots.

Ahhh … the side with the books I covet, but can’t afford.

 Sigh …

Thanks to my Paris based friend, Kim who alerted me to the death of George Whitman on Facebook with a link to this great NYTimes article on his life and passing.

Shakespeare And Company – Surviving And Thriving

Elizabeth Harper - Shakespeare And Company - 2010

Some of you may be thinking,” What does the famous Shakespeare And Company bookstore in Paris have to do with Surviving And Thriving? ” Aside from the obvious fact that American George Whitman’s bookstore has survived and thrived since he established it in 1951 across from Notre Dame, today’s post has to do with the ways in which we may unknowingly affect others in the blogging community.

I can’t remember if I visited this bookstore the first time I came to Paris in 1980, but I do have a photograph of myself standing in front of it in 2000 and again in 2009. While it may seem pretty touristy to have your picture taken in front of such a well-known shop, it has become a bit of a tradition for me now to stop by George Whitman’s eclectic bookstore to see what’s happening.

It’s funny how people pop into your mind when going through your day and when I mentioned to Donna Freedman in an email recently that I thought of her during my trip to Paris last month and she could not imagine how or why Paris might have triggered a thought about her. It makes perfect sense to me as I am sure it will you once I share a few things about the day.

You may remember that I have mentioned Donna in the past. She writes a great deal about living frugally and makes it sound almost like a game to enjoy versus anything close to deprivation. While strolling in and out of various places in Paris, there were endless opportunities to open my wallet and spend on things I did not need. I found myself having conversations in my head that generally went something like, ” Oh, isn’t that just the cutest thing, maybe I should get it to help remember my trip to Paris.”

Never mind that I had already accumulated about 3,000 photographs of Paris to help trigger my memory, while walking through Shakespeare And Company I decided ever so briefly that I needed another canvas tote. How many of these bags I currently have did not even matter when I discovered the cool bag in the photo below. I went back and forth, buy it – don’t by it … until finally I thought about what would Donna do and I put it back.

Bag Design By Badaude And Image From Her Site

It was a lovely bag by Badaude and I would have snatched it up in a hurry if I did not already own more bags than I have use for, but that did not stop me from considering several books just as I always do. I was on the verge of another purchase when I picked up the book below. (The full image is in the first photograph)

It’s Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich and finding it reminded me of how many in the US are struggling just to get by and how the scarcity of jobs has many people working for far less than they would have considered in the past. That thought led me to frugality, which once again made me think of Donna Freedman and even though she didn’t write this book, I still said to my sister, ” Take my picture for Donna.”

Earlier this morning I finished reading a piece she wrote for Get Rich Slowly that has tons of information and tips for both the underemployed and the unemployed. Donna writes regularly at MSN Money as well and has her own site that I mentioned in the title above. She also has a contest every week over at her blog home, Surviving And Thriving and even though I have not won anything yet, I feel like I take something away with me every time I stop by to see what she has to say.

So there it is, a message about how Donna Freedman inspired a thought and photograph in front of a famous bookstore, in the shadow of Notre Dame. It could be you next time.