Everything Books
Writing and reading and books, books, books (and anything that might relate)

July 8, 2013

Bookish Restaurants for Book Lovers

TheWindingStairWhen I was growing up, our house overflowed with books.  Mom was (and is) a writer, and my dad was a professor and college administrator.  My parents also loved to cook.  At ages six and seven, one of my favorite games of Pretend involved owning a bookstore-restaurant (located on the loft/attic-like top floor of our house in Maryland), a place I ran myself when I wasn’t traveling the globe with my rock band solving crimes.  My mother would ask for a table and I would serve her snacks among the books.

“May I read as I eat?” she would ask.  “Of course,” I would answer.  “That is the whole point.”

Last Halloween, my fiancé and BFF and I wound up our Great Irish Adventure with a lunch at The Winding Stair, this charming little slip of a restaurant on Dublin’s Lower Quay, overlooking the River Liffey.  (I love how charming and literary that sentence sounds.  Ah, Ireland…)  The bookstore-café takes its name from William Butler Yeats’s poem–

“My Soul. I summon to the winding ancient stair;
Set all your mind upon the steep ascent,
Upon the broken, crumbling battlement,
Upon the breathless starlit air…”

If you ever find yourself in Dublin, I can’t recommend The Winding Stair enough for the food and the atmosphere– in the small, bright space above the bookstore, among the books lining the walls, we ate The Best Shepherd’s Pie Ever.

My own home city, Los Angeles, has its share of books and bars, but here are some other book-themed eateries from around the world, all of which I’m longing to see.

If you have any favorite literary bar/restaurants, please share– I’d love to know about them and add them to my travel list!

October 19, 2012

Traveling light when you love books

The first time I traveled to England, I packed my suitcase full of books by my favorite English authors– the Brontes, Jane Austen, Keats, Byron, Shelley, Wordsworth, and the complete works of Shakespeare.  I could picture it so clearly, so vividly… I would read all of them while traveling through their country. I would absorb the words of these great writers while surrounded by some of the very scenery that inspired them.

And then I got to England, making my way across Wales and the British countryside before settling in London, without ever opening a single book.  What’s more, I bought so many lovely old editions of Byron and Shelley and Jane Austen and the Brontes at charming, musty bookstores throughout the United Kingdom, that I had to purchase another suitcase just to get them home.

As I head to Ireland next week (in an attempt to remember what a vacation actually is), I’m trying very hard not to fill my already-filled suitcase with all the Irish literature I can carry:  Bram Stoker’s Dracula (my favorite gothic horror story)– Dracula may have hailed from Transylvania, but Stoker himself was Irish.  Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest (my favorite play).  Roddy Doyle’s Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha (my favorite modern Irish-set novel).  Anything by Marian Keyes. And Yeats, ah Yeats, who penned my favorite poem.

Instead, I have allowed myself one book for the journey there, and one (purchased there) for the journey home.  (This doesn’t count any books I may have on my iPad, of course. Especially because when I’m in wonderfully olden-time countries like England and Ireland, I want to read wonderfully olden-time books, complete with tattered covers and yellowed, crumbling pages.)  I plan to experience Ireland off the page. 

And that extends to my own work.  I am going to do my best not to start researching and writing (in my head) the entire time I’m there.

(Although who knows what stories I may stumble across…)

When You Are Old and Grey

by William Butler Yeats

When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.