Posts filed under ‘Literary Locales’

‘Parnassus on Wheels’ and ‘The Haunted Bookshop’ by Christopher Morley


The old Rizzoli bookshop on West 57th Street was one of those New York spaces that are so grand, so beautiful, and so established that you never even think to fear for its survival. Some things, you think, will endure even in a constantly-changing city like New York.

In the summer of 2013, the Rizzoli bookshop seemed as stable and beautiful as ever. Its interior was like walking into the library in ‘Beauty & the Beast’ — books stretched from carpeted floor to opulently-decorated ceiling. The shelves were made of wood that looked impossibly dark and old and they were matched by huge library tables that didn’t look like they could ever be moved by mere mortals. Grand chandeliers hung from the ceiling between floors, giving the whole store a warm, safe, nook-like feeling even on the brightest summer day.

I wandered in on that particular sunny day with a visiting art historian friend who I was showing around New York. Truthfully, after living in the city for almost 6 years, I had never been inside the famed Rizzoli bookstore on 57th Street. I had just heard that it was beautiful and artistic and that one really ought to see it.

Now I agreed wholeheartedly. My pupils actually dilated in delight when we walked in and saw the glory of Rizzoli’s interior. The respectful hush of the place felt very far away from the heat and bustle of midtown just outside the doors and my friend and I spent a very pleasant afternoon in the shop, neglectful of all other plans. (more…)


June 23, 2016 at 6:48 am 2 comments

Literary Locales: The Best of Bookish Nantucket

In a bittersweet turn of events, I am leaving Nantucket, and moving back to western New York, in the coming weeks. Over my last year here, I’ve discovered that Nantucket is a gloriously literate place, with an entire festival devoted to books, little nooks offering free or low-cost books at almost every turn, fabulous independent bookstores, and the best public library I’ve ever had the pleasure of using.

So, as letter of farewell to a place I have truly loved, here’s an ode to all that is good and book-related on Nantucket:


Let’s start at the very beginning: bookstores. Nantucket has been notoriously successful at preventing the incursion of chain stores, so it should come as no surprise that Nantucket Island boasts not one, but two excellent independent bookstores: Mitchell’s Book Corner (54 Main Street) and Nantucket Bookworks (25 Broad Street). Both have their perks and idiosyncrasies (and I personally prefer Bookworks), but both are havens. (more…)

May 14, 2015 at 4:23 am 4 comments

Literary Locales: Brighton

This is a part of our “Literary Locales” series here at LT. Check out the first post in the series for more information.

“In Lydia’s imagination, a visit to Brighton comprised every
possibility of earthly happiness.”

What: Brighton, UK
Where: See above
Literary Connection: Regency hot-spot featured prominently in Pride and Prejudice
Recommended Reading: The aforementioned Austen, anything by Brighton-native Graham Greene, or a biography of the Prince Regent (also anything from this handy website on “Literary Brighton”)
Transgression: Possibility of running off with officers and disgracing your family is high.

Thanks in no small part to Jane Austen, I’ve had a bit of a hankering to see Brighton ever since I came to London last fall. This week, I finally made it down there and, while I did not see “the glories of all the camp,” I did at least get to see “that gay bathing place,” the English Channel, and check out the bizarre Pavilion, the kitschy arches and pier, and have some excellent eats. (Most notably, Scoop and Crumb, a bakery/ice cream parlour, was completely excellent.) (more…)

June 17, 2011 at 2:37 am 4 comments

Literary Locales: Kensal Green Cemetery

This is a part of our “Literary Locales” series here at LT. Check out the first post in the series for more information.

What: Kensal Green Cemetery
Where: Harrow Rd, London W10 4RA
Literary Connection: Wilkie Collins, Trollope, and Thackeray (among others) are buried here
Recommended Reading: G.K. Chesteron’s “The Flying Inn” apparently mentions it and Collins’ The Woman in White seems appropriate for some reason. Alternately, anything about cemeteries, the undead, or Victorian London.
Transgression: A lot of the graves looked disturbed, so perhaps Victorians rising from the dead?

As the oldest of the “Magnificent Seven” Victorian cemeteries of London, Kensal Green understandably has a lot going for it. The “notable burials” page on their website goes through about six pages, listing their famous inhabitants by category (one of which is “scandal”!), and the cemetery itself is vast. But for our purposes, Kensal Green Cemetery is remarkable for the large number of literary luminaries buried in its grounds. (more…)

April 4, 2011 at 12:00 am Leave a comment

Literary Locales: Keats House

This is a part of our “Literary Locales” series here at LT. Check out the first post in the series for more information.

What: Keats House
Where: Keats Grove, Hampstead, London NW3 2RR
Literary Connection: Keats lived here (and met Fanny Brawne here)
Recommended Reading:Bright Star,” undoubtedly, although he also wrote “La Belle Dame sans Merci,” “Ode on a Grecian Urn” and “Ode to a Nightingale” while living in this house
Transgression: Regency love thwarted by consumption!

I’m going to admit up front that I know very little about John Keats. I’m not a die-hard Keats fan nor do I hate the man; I’m just largely unaware. I enjoy the romanticism of his relationship with Fanny Brawne and I’m a Regency-lovin’ girl, but specificity about him is not part of my literary repertoire. (And you all know how I feel about poetry in general.) All the same, this past Sunday I discovered his house in Hampstead and took a turn about the place. And it was lovely. (more…)

January 20, 2011 at 6:11 am 4 comments

Literary Locales: Hatchards Bookshop

This is a part of our “Literary Locales” series here at LT. Check out the first post in the series for more information.

Courtesy of KTo288

What: Hatchards
Where: 187 Piccadilly, London, England
Literary Connection: Oldest surviving bookshop in London
Recommended Reading: Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf (Clarissa looks in the Hatchards window)
Transgression: The danger of buying too many books?

Hatchards, founded in 1797, is the oldest surviving bookshop in London and the second oldest in the entire United Kingdom. I’d read glowing reviews of it and, loving bookstores as I do, felt compelled to take a walk down to visit it on Piccadilly. As promising as the façade was, I’m sorry to say the bookstore itself was a huge disappointment. I was expecting to step into some kind of old-fashioned, magical place, but really all I did was step into an old building with a wholly modern bookstore in it. (more…)

December 13, 2010 at 12:00 am 4 comments

Literary Locales: Where Allen Lane Invented the Paperback

This is a part of our “Literary Locales” series here at LT. Check out the first post in the series for more information.

What: The Original Penguin Books H.Q.
Where: Vigo Street, London, England
Literary Connection: The first paperback was published here!
Recommended Reading: Anything by Ernest Hemingway, André Maurois and Agatha Christie as they were the first three authors to be published as paperbacks by Penguin
Transgression: Isn’t there something inherently saucy about the paperback in some respects?

As I wandered about Soho with my visiting mother looking for tea, we happened upon the above subtle plaque on Vigo Street. No one else on the street gave it a second glance and, truth be told, my eyes would have skimmed right over it as well where it not for that recognizable penguin figure set off in white at the bottom. (more…)

October 27, 2010 at 12:00 am 4 comments

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