Shakespeare and Co. – Where Willy Wonka meets Shakespeare

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I became fascinated with Shakespeare and Co. when I watched the movie Before Sunset in which Julie Delpy got a glimpse of Ethan Hawke at his own book signing at the bookstore. The second day I was in Paris, I went straight to the Rue de Bucherie on the Left Bank, opposite Notre Dame Cathedral, and almost weeped at the sight of Kesey and Ginsberg’s works on the shelves.

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Shakespeare & Company has been a literary institution in Paris since 1951, although its roots lie with bookseller Sylvia Beach in 1919. You might recognize her name; she was close friends with Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Gertrude Stein during the riotously fun “Roaring Twenties,” or as the French put it, Les Années Folles. If you’ve seen Midnight in Paris, you know exactly what I’m talking about!

The place is inconspicuous on the outside yet has a unique charm that attracts tens of thousands visitors per year. When you walk in, it feels like a literary utopia where Willy Wonka meets Shakespeare. The walls are decorated with signed title pages and tens of thousands of books are causally piled up on the weather-beaten shelves. It’s like entering a time machine which brings you back to the lost generation.

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Soon after George Whitman opened the bookstore, he started housing several writers at a time, either published or aspiring, and these literary vagabonds came to be known as the Tumbleweeds. “Several million persons have walked in our door like tumbleweeds drifting in the wind,” George wrote in his letter from the editor in the second edition of The Paris Magazine, published by the bookshop in 1984, “and then walked out, their innocence lost, as free citizens of the cosmos.” He believed “we’re all homeless wanderers in a way,” and over the years, Shakespeare & Co. has welcomed wandering writers such as Allen Ginsberg, Anaïs Nin, James Baldwin, Julio Cortázar, Darren Aronofsky, and Dave Eggers.

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This is me in one of my favorite sections – music and film holding a book about one of my favorite directors and screenwriters, Woody;). Photographs are generally prohibited but it was a relatively hidden part of the bookstore.

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Paperbacks line red wooden steps leading upstairs to a “non-commercial” floor: a library in which you could lose yourself, with one rule: books mustn’t leave the premises. Here, as on the ground floor, single mattresses lurk between the shelves, and, in the children’s section, a bunk bed. It’s on these that young authors sleep each night.

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I read one blog post about the bookstore and I am going to end the post with the last paragraph. “As I leave, the western facade of Notre Dame is noisy with tourists. I cross the square, haunted by one of the messages tacked to the mirror. Hand-written by the mother of a 21-year-old bipolar man who killed himself by jumping off Brooklyn Bridge, it read: “I’ve spent the last hour trying to decide if I should end my life. If he could have discovered your bookshop, perhaps he would have survived. I want to thank you for this place and the hope it gives.” Not only does that seem to underline the redemptive power of literature, but also something less tangible: the balm of environment.”

Shakespeare & Company Bookstore

37 rue de la Bûcherie, 75005 Paris
Metro Saint Michel Notre Dame (line 4, RER C and B)
Bus 24 (Stops Notre Dame or Maubert Mutualité) and 47 (Stops Notre Dame or Petit Pont)

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8 Great Reasons to Teach Yoga

Recently I read a wonderful article with eight important quotes from eight beautiful yogis. As a fellow yoga teacher and a yogi, I had to share them here with you.

Every day we go to work. Eat lunch. Commute Home. Work Out. Make Dinner. Repeat. Do you ever stop to think about WHY you do the things you do? Are you eating the quinoa salad because you’ve made it a million times already, or are you thoughtfully choosing the ingredients and preparing the meal with care? In other words, do you do things simply because it’s become routine or is there a deeper intention behind your actions?

This year, I’ve been questioning why I do certain things. And of course yoga was called into question. In a recent Wanderlust Journal article, I asked Wanderlusters why they do yoga. In the same vein, I was also curious about the yogis who had taken another step from student to teacher. So I interviewed a handful of Wanderlust teachers with one question, “Why do you teach yoga?”

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1. To help others feel good
“I teach yoga because it makes people feel good about their bodies. I’ve learned to accept myself more, and I want to give that to other people, especially in the dance world where it can be very discouraging sometimes.”
– Beau Campbell, dancer and yoga teacher

 

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2. To be a better student
“I teach yoga because I want to be a better student. You learn so much when you teach; it’s a never-ending process of learning by teaching. There’s a certain point you start to stagnate as a student, and you just go out there and you teach to learn.”
– Schuyler Grant, co-creator of Wanderlust

 

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3. To help others achieve goals
“I didn’t actually choose to teach yoga to be honest. I had friends who wanted to practice yoga but they were too scared to go to a yoga studio. So I offered to show them some things and then set up a “class.” I taught five of my friends in my basement and then five turned into ten and many more. I just wanted my friends to practice yoga, and then through that intention to help my friends accomplish what they wanted to accomplish, I became a yoga instructor.”
– Matt Giordano, martial artist and yoga teacher

 

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4. To allow others to choose what they need to learn
“I don’t think I teach anything. I think I hold a space for people to experience an honest, authentic, and pure version of themselves through me being radically honest, authentic and pure. If there’s anything I teach it’s how to hold a space to facilitate and people around you choose what they’re going to learn.”
– Cameron Shayne, founder of Budokon University

 

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5. To help others connect to a higher consciousness
“I teach yoga to serve the best way I can so people can learn how to connect to their own highest consciousness and connect with their inner being.”
– Nirinjan Kaur Khalsa, Kundalini teacher

 

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6. To send out love
“I teach yoga because there’s this force out there called love. At the end of our yoga practice we turn our bodies, minds, and hearts into this antenna that picks up the signal which we can then radiate out as positive energy and nothing in the world matters more than that.”
– Eoin Finn, founder of Blissology

 

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7. To fulfill a destiny
“I teach yoga because it pulled me to teach yoga. It was one of those things where my teacher of fifteen years said, ‘You will teach yoga.’ And I teach yoga because it is in service to my very practice because it reminds me to remain a student.”
– Janet Stone, vinyasa yoga teacher

 

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8. To keep it real
“I teach yoga to bring more ‘real’ into the world.”
– Alex Mazerolle, founder of Girlvana