Day 297

Yes, Jessica, there’s still time to go for another walk with me before my year-long walking adventure runs full circle.  I can hear you breathing a sigh of relief so thanks for asking and yes, guys, I am back in New Jersey. Walking. Can you hear me breathing a sigh of relief now?

Well, breathing just a sigh, I guess.

Since tomorrow’s walk will consist of driving my car to Foreign Aid automotive, talking with Zen-mechanic Albert for a little while, walking home, and doing it all again at the end of the day…I thought it would be better if I kept posting about my trip to Eastern Europe for just a little while longer. Like maybe for the rest of the week.

Here’s something I posted in Shelf Awareness about a lovely English-language bookstore in Prague. Which I walked to…of course!

A BEER AND A BOOK. OR TWO

Patrons at the Globe Bookstore and Café in Prague don’t have to choose between books and drink: here they can find both.

“In Prague, beer is cheaper than water,” manager Kaja Curtis (at right, with a customer)

Look - she's buying a copy of THE UNBEARABLE LIGHTNESS OF BEING!

said. “But the culture of literature and the arts is alive and well. There’s a lot of emphasis on books and literature and on education here. That’s always been the Czech tradition.”

Stepping into the Globe and entering its quiet, wood-, sun- and book-filled sanctuary, it’s clear the indie bookstore is thriving in Prague. The city’s first English-language bookstore, the Globe was founded 15 years ago and has welcomed a marquee of literary legends from Klima to Roth and caters to ex-pat poets and writers who’ve made this capital city their home. The storefront is stacked with titles on two levels and across a wrought-iron balcony; the rear is a spacious bar and café with a lively garden and American-style food.

In May, the store held a launch for The Return of Kral Majales, a hefty collection of English-language ex-pats’ poetry, fiction and short stories edited by Louis Armand. The Globe hosts a biweekly book club, poetry readings and music performances, as well as free English-language movies every Sunday.

The café drives the business, but the bookstore is the heart and history of the place, general manager Eva Regulyova said. When I stepped off Pstossova Street into the store on a hot weekday morning, I literally dropped into a café chair, pulled out my notebook and started writing down titles I wanted to read.

From my perch I could see the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times, any number of magazines from National Geographic to Vogue; Alain de Botton’s The Art of TravelThe Art of Living by Epictetus, The Big Short by Michael Lewis and Too Big to Fail by Andrew Ross Sorkin, to name a few.

Literature looks different when you travel. Fiction by or about Balkan, Czech, Hungarian and Bohemian people jumped out at me. Spies of the Balkans by Alan Furst and The Glass Room by Simon Mawer–how could I have overlooked these titles at home when here they seemed like essential reading? Ditto The Shadow of the Sun and Travels with Herodotus by ex-pat Polish journalist Ryszard KapuÅ›ciÅ„sk.

Once a month there’s a folk singer in the Globe’s café. She was there when I went back for a second visit and had a lovely chat about literature with Kaja. She was singing “I’m Leaving on a Jet Plane,” and it was hard not to feel a little melancholy because I’d be leaving soon, too.

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