what you get here

This is not a blog which expresses instant opinions on current events. It rather uses incidents, books (old and new), links and papers as jumping-off points for some reflections about our social endeavours.
So old posts are as good as new! And lots of useful links!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

An ode to independent Bookshops

A couple of weeks ago I did something I haven’t been able to in 30 years – I ordered a batch of books from a bookshop! Sounds so simple – but my nomadic existence since 1990 has made it so difficult to be in the appropriate place when the books actually arrived. And there were so few bookshops in the countries I was working in which offered such a service. But the Anthony Frost English bookshop is something else– not for nothing called “arguably the best English-language bookshop in Eastern Europe” in this year’s Lonely Planet book on Bulgaria and Romania and voted this year Romania’s best bookshop by the Publishers’ Association of Romania.
The titles on display are, for a man of my taste, mouth-watering and seem to get better on each visit. But that did not prevent me from handing Vlad, the highly knowledgeable and friendly manager, a list of eight books – six of which duly arrived in the flash of an eye within a week! Needless to say, other books also caught my eye – eg Romanian Writers on Writing which has an interesting short video clip here – or were recommended by Vlad, eg the stunning Forbidden Photos and Personal Images which has the following blurb on the great website
It was, indeed, necessary that 18 years pass for people to want to remember what communism meant. When they were ready, it was Andrei Pandele that gave them back their lost and forgotten memories, the one witness who breaks the silence and brings out prints of individual and public history. Maybe the young, tall, slender young man, with green eyes, that paid attention to everything, got an even bigger reward for his courage then he expected. People did want to know. At 63, he is still young and full of energy, currently working on a project on the House of the People.
He now lives in the house where during communism he snuck the films that were to become his testimony, his parents’ house, which he used to leave with a briefcase where he hid the prints that could have gotten him five years of imprisonment each, had he been discovered. The kind of pictures that were not part of family albums.
Pandele’s testimony is a silent, but vibrant one, and this is what he does best, takes pictures of real life, stills time with his camera, and keeps it aside for generations to come. People have a short memory when it comes to hard times and misfortunes. Photographs help them remember and new generations understand their present through their past.
There was also another powerful book with black and white photographs of the Odbor flea market which I found just a bit too lifelike to have in my library

I am therefore thoroughly sustained in my new boycott of the Amazon behemoth. Indeed I feel cleansed! The prices of my purchases in the Anthony Frost bookshop were no higher than the bills I had been getting for the packages delivered to the house. But the human experience was priceless. I googled “in praise of independent bookshops” and am delighted to share these glowing tributes from thepenguinblog; feminspire; booksellers; and - perhaps best of all - independent booksellers

Anthony Frost are also part of the Bookcrossing network with three baskets of free books also available for the taking (providing you leave an equivalent number!) - so another book was duly added ("The Spin Doctor's Diary") about which hopefully I will have something to say soon..... 

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