CHANGE UNIVERSE: Magazine Jewels
São Paulo | Store GuideDecember 19, 2011

Sanctuary Bookstores

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Be not inhospitable to strangers, lest they be angels in disguise ”

George Whitman

I have always been mad about books and bookstores. While I am posting this morning,  I receive  a newsletter article  from Flavorwire with an yellowish vintage picture capturing my attention. It 's a small room packed with piled books in wood shelves and a small text below:

"  George Whitman, the owner of Shakespeare & Company, the legendary English-language bookstore on the Left Bank in Paris, died last week at age 98. A patron of the arts as well as a visionary bookseller, writers flocked to his shop to browse, mingle, and even spend the night.

I decide to stop writing a little and research more on the internet  about George's life and philosophy. Among the many interesting angles of his devotion for reading , sharing and lending books, I found the text below that most identifies with my personal connection with books and bookshelves.

' Whitman didn’t just want to open up a simple bookshop—he wanted to create a “sanctuary for writers, aspiring writers and artists,” and that he did.  For over 50 years, Shakespeare and Company has been a temple of books and hosting readings by published and unpublished authors, including Henry Miller, Anäis Nin and Alan Ginsberg. What Mother Goose is to nursery rhymes, Whitman and his shop are to the Parisian literary scene. It even looks like it could be part of a fairy tale: wishing well, creaking wooden steps, a slanting roof and all.'

Whitman and his shop are to the Parisian literary scene. It even looks like it could be part of a fairy tale: wishing well, creaking wooden steps, a slanting roof and all.While at the Université Sorbonne, American George Whitman managed to amass a rather large collection of English books that he would sometimes lend or even sell to friends. Soon Whitman turned his hobby into something more tangible, acquiring the perfect location for his adventurous business endeavor right across from Notre Dame in 1951.

You can go on George's lovely vintage-loolinkg website and read more about his life, events and bookstore as  this post , originally   named  Livraria Da Vila , could not have a  better  introduction .

Nestled in the heart of chic Sao Paulo, in a neighborhood called  Jardins  the legendary bookstore,  Livraria da Vila  was designed  in 2003 by internationally renowned Brazilian architect Isay Weinfeld. Like Gerorge Whitman 's Shakespeare & Company in Paris,  Samuel Seibel in Sao Paulo,

" Charming,  receptive, democratic and  as Seibel describes, Livraria da Vila opened 25 years ago in a small shop where  children  storytelling  took place welcoming whoever liked to listen and read,  hosted with a warm cafezinho.

With the time , the small bookstore locally called  a queridinha  ( darling  ) acquired  the love and care of the old neighborhood (Vila)  whose adopted initial vision  for storytelling became a meeting point  to  buy and explore all sorts of books spending time meeting people  discussing amicably about almost anything over pastries and Pao de Queijo.

One day it flew higher, to the mind and hands of the one who transformed  a small dream  with wings into an ever thought magnificent almost unreal reality .

Without loosing it's attribute and character, in the last 7 years, The vila established  in a  comfortable , highly  and unpaired contemporary environment ,. an  in-house venue for conferences, lectures, courses, debates, pocket shows story telling. and goes without saying  the launching of boots with autographs sessions.

Seibel is now constantly thinking about  new ventures and unimaginable destinations his initial dream can take him.

After all Wihtman was right, hotting strangers of so many years some winged angels must have passed by .

 Joelle's tips:

The bookstores:

The Shakespeare & Company 37 rue de la Bûcherie  75005 Paris Tel : 00 33 (0) 1 43 25 40 93   Open every day 10am - 11pm except for Saturday and Sunday when we open at 11am.

Livraria da Vila

Avenida Magalhães de Castro, 12000 - Butantã  São Paulo - SP - Cep. 05502-001

Tel : (11) 3755-5811  Pen Mond - Sat 10 to 22 / Sun 12 to 20

The Architect:

Isay Weinfeld

The Sources:

Paris Unlike 

Photo Credits

White corridor with stairs  and Wide angled view of Livraria da vila / entrance Leonardo Finotti

Shakespear an company  courtesy the first three images

Location of Joelle's Photo: Joao Mansur Interiors 

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