Where in world...?

An old friend phoned the other day. He never phones. But this time he just had to know: "What are you doing living in Florence?"
He thought I was in Florence, Italy. I told him it was Florence, Massachusetts.
Here are some answers -- my occasional wanderings through Florence, MA and the surrounding Pioneer Valley.

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Travel Bookshop at Notting Hill

The Travel Bookshop's real façade (www.thisislondon.co.uk)
The Travel Bookshop, Notting Hill, London.
For all those fans of the film "Notting Hill" (1999) starring Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant, the bookshop at the center of the action has become a tourist destination. Unfortunately, this bookshop is scheduled to close within a day. This impending loss has been reported in the media recently, from news outlets in Britain such as The Daily Telegraph to NPR in the United States.

The Travel Bookshop is a landmark for those avid travelers, collectors of travel guides, and readers of travel narratives. It arranged its books by country rather than by genre, as a more general bookstore would do. This arrangement has become more commonly seen in larger bookshops now, such as those gigantic Barnes and Noble megashops. But the Travel Bookshop also attracted real travel writers, those adventurers whose books were sold in the shop, such as Paul Theroux, Colin Thubron. If you look at the website you will find travel narratives and writers producing work on all parts of the world, near and far. Such a shop clearly gathers together a vast amount of knowledge and creates a tremendous resource for readers of all levels and interests. Travel is a way to explore and test your curiosity about others, and the books featured on the website, even on the eve of the bookshop's closure, shows us how this field is vital and flourishing.

Alec Baldwin has already stepped up to support the continued operations of this bookshop. If you recall, Alec Baldwin played the boorish celebrity boyfriend to Julia Roberts, the last person in the film who would seem to have an interest in books. He has spoken out on his Twitter feed about helping out. You too can help out by continuing to support writers and bookshops, in your own communities and beyond. Travel writers in particular seem to be increasingly relevant in today's globalized economy, so please try to reach out and support these intrepid writers and booksellers whenever you can.

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