In January 2019 I visited some friend in Philadelphia and of course a bookstore visit had to happen.
I fell in love the moment I stepped into Shakespeare & Co. on that cold, dark January night. This combination coffee shop and bookstore smelled like coffee and baked goods. I could easily imagine myself sitting at a corner table with a warm mug, chocolate croissant, and getting lost in a new book.
Shakespeare & Co. has two floors you can wander and get lost in.
This bookstore visit holds a special place because it’s where I was introduced to N.K. Jemisin’s work. She is a science fiction writer who has won the Hugo Award many times. Her world building is fantastic.
But the way I was introduced to her writing is one of those serendipitous moments that happens in a bookstore.
I was standing in the science fiction section browsing for a new read. It’s only been in the last few years that I’ve tried to transfer my love of tv sci-fi to reading sci-fi. I can’t exactly remember how the woman standing next to me started the conversation, but we began talking about Octavia Butler. I’m loathe to admit that I still haven’t read any of her work.
This woman reached to the shelf and handed me Jemisin’s The Fifth Season. She explained that Jemisin reminded her a lot of Butler. Her recommendation of Jemisin to me was also based on the fact that I had said I enjoyed world building, intricate stories you piece together over time, and a general enjoyment of supporting female authors. There was definitely more to this exchange, but it’s been lost to time.
The important takeaway is that Shakespeare & Co. in Philadelphia brings to mind warm memories of socialization, book nerds, and discovery. I highly recommend a visit if you find yourself in Philadelphia.