17 May 2009

Bookstores of Rome

It wouldn't be a real trip without a little snooping around in unfamiliar bookstores. A few photos from my Roman holiday:

You would think from the name this nook in Piazza di San Silvestro would have been a used bookstore, but it wasn't (so far as I could tell.) It did have an excellent selection of European fashion magazines, though.

Interior of "Remainders." I was surprised how few books were stored spine-out -- the piles on the floor didn't seem to be organized in any particular way, which would have made it incredibly frustrating to find anything.

Borri Books was the major bookstore in Rome's Termini train station (named not for the word terminus but because it was built on top of the termi or classic Roman baths). Located in the mall end of the station -- think Union Station in D.C. or the international terminal at SFO -- the store was actually three stories, one below the main floor and a glassed-in balcony above. I initially mistook these paperbacks in Italian for Penguin editions, but they only had the look.

Despite my reservations about the glass spiral staircase leading to the international section, I gamely climbed to the top only to be attacked by vampires. Oddly enough I couldn't find these books anywhere in Italian, so I can only speculate on what the title would be. PENOMBRA? IL VAMPIRO QUI MI AMA? IL VIRGEN DI 104 ANNI? (Someone who actually knows Italian, help me out here.)

However, getting to the not-shabby English section did lead me to discover possibly my new favorite TV tie-in series ever. Until someone comes out with "Murphy Brown's Guide to Life" or "Frontier Medicine With Dr. Quinn," that is. (Well, I wasn't really allowed to watch "Murphy Brown" as a kid.)


Wade Garrett said...

I'm always amused when I find out which American cultural productions are popular in other countries. Somehow Jerry Lewis, Mickey Rourke, Woody Allen, and Kevin Kline are very popular in France. Why those four? Why not Tom Hanks and Bruce Willis and the other actors who are the most popular in the United States?

I've been told that Grisham (John, not Kevin) sells very well in Europe, which is weird to me because their legal systems are so much different than ours. To the extent that I can see books about gay vampires (or whatever the hell Twilight is about) being popular anywhere, I suppose it makes sense that they would be as popular in Europe as they are in the United States.

What else did you see over there? Which American authors did you see in translation?

Ellen said...

They're not gay, they're just sparkly.

I don't remember seeing any John Grishams, actually (nor Kevins, heh). I saw a lot of Paul Auster, Harlan Coben, your Crichtons and Cornwells. Along with your typical section for "the classics" there was a not shabby shelf of David Foster Wallace. And he's not American, but there was a huge section of Paulo Coelho, whose appeal I have never tried to understand.

One thing I noticed right away was how few hardcovers were for sale -- when there were multiple editions of a book the nicer one tended to be a larger format trade paperback with built in jacket flaps, not a hardcover proper. Despite this I saw almost no one reading a book on the few times I was on the subway.