A Passage A Day

ตอนที่ 79 : Could this be your new favourite bookshop ?

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Book lovers who find themselves easily distracted may welcome the brutal approach by a new bookstore in London. In a bold move, Libreria has declared itself a ‘digital detox zone’, banning its customers from using mobile phones and tablets within the shop. The ban is part of an endeavour by the store to immerse the visitor in the visceral joys of reading and the pleasure of physical books, as well as to reawaken the art of real-life conversation, debates and talks, a sense of conviviality and a taste of the unexpected.

Visitors to the shop may take photos, but if they’re spotted texting, browsing the internet, posting or communicating with anyone outside the shop’s four walls, they are politely requested to stop. “The rule isn’t enforced in a draconian way, but we do want to create a welcoming space away from digital overload,” Libreria’s Paddy Butler tells BBC Culture. “If you’re doing business on your computer all day, then being in a space full of traditional books allows you to escape, browse, talk about books, and discuss ideas. We all need a break from digital distraction and noise – it’s not good to be plugged in all the time.” So how have customers reacted to the ban of their beloved phones so far? According to Butler, positively: “They mostly say ‘Thank you’.”

Tom Hodgkinson, co-founder of the Idler Academy, which is collaborating on events with Libreria, “applauds” the ban. “In doing so they present a genuine retreat and refuge, where real books and depth of thinking are privileged over Snapchat and tech,” he tells BBC Culture. “They’ve even got an old-school record player in there which is a nice touch. And The Idler is all about providing a pause for thought and fun in the day, so we’re really looking forward to hosting events in the shop where people can get together and indulge in the convivial pursuit of talking about ideas together.”

Digital deluge

Conviviality, perhaps, is the key word. At a recent event at Libreria, guests were invited to ‘swig and sniff’ their way through 20th-Century fiction. While passages by the likes of Raymond Chandler and Patrick Hamilton were read out and discussed, the drinks described in the text were sampled and the relevant scents passed around the audience.

So could it be that people are becoming more mindful of the downside of constant digital connectedness? Libreria’s founders (who also founded a co-working space, Second Home) have said that we have reached a ‘cultural tipping point’, with book lovers rebelling against the ‘digital deluge’. Certainly, it seems that the East London store isn’t alone in its championing of the tangible, communal exchange of ideas.

In London, Review Bookshop in Peckham, Ink@84 in Highbury and the LRB Bookshop are among the numerous bookshops that share a similar approach. And globally, there is a buzzing, buoyant industry being made out of literary talks, philosophical gatherings and open mic storytelling events – from the Moth in New York, to the now-worldwide School of Life.

And it seems that reports of the death of the paper book have been greatly exaggerated. There are signs that some e-book users are actually returning to print, or starting to use both paper books and e-books, alternating between the two. According to the Association of American Publishers, e-book sales fell by 10 per cent between January and May in 2015 – a figure based on data from 1,200 publishers. Certainly, when it comes to browsing, it is the unexpected discoveries to be made in a physical bookstore that differentiate it from the algorithm-led online experience. Serendipity, or “creative collision” as Paddy Butler puts it, can make for interesting connections - looking laterally and outside your usual interests and genres can throw up some surprising choices.

At Libreria this is taken one step further. Books are grouped together to reflect loose themes – ‘family’ or ‘the sea and the sky’ – rather than orthodox categories or genres. “We had a customer in recently who said she only ever read contemporary fiction,” says Butler. “She ended up buying some classic 19th-Century novels, because of the connections sparked by the layout of the shop and the conversations she had with us in the store.” And in a bid to spark further inspiration, the shop has also enlisted guest curators to make selections – including writer Jeanette Winterson and Edwin Frank, editor of the New York Review of Books Classics series.

It all feels very retro – and very apt for a part of London renowned for its sense of history, where traditionally, different cultures first met, and lively intellectual debate took place in England’s first coffee houses. Along with its vinyl turntable, Libreria even has an old-fashioned printing press in the basement – surely the ultimate analogue statement. Still, it’s not quite old-school nirvana. Libreria may be a sensory, real-life, ‘swig-and-sniff’ sanctuary from the bombardment of the modern digital world, but Luddite it is not. It’s somehow not surprising to hear that the store is run – at least partly – using custom-made technology. This is the 21st Century, after all.


brutal  (adj.)

cruel, ​violent, and ​completely without ​feelings:

not ​considering someone's ​feelings:


endeavour (v.)

 to ​try to do something:


immerse (v.)

to ​become completely involved in something:


visceral  (adj.)

based on ​deep feeling and ​emotional reactions rather than on ​reason or ​thought:


convivial  (adj.)

friendly and making you ​feel happy and ​welcome

enforced (v.)

to make ​people obey a ​law, or to make a ​particular situationhappen or be ​accepted:


draconian  (Adj.)

Draconian ​laws, ​government actions, etc. are ​extremelysevere, or go ​further than what is ​right or ​necessary:


applauds (v.)

to say that you ​admire and ​agree with a person's ​action or ​decision:


 genuine (Adj.)

If something is genuine, it is ​real and ​exactly what it ​appearsto be:

If ​people or ​emotions are genuine, they are ​honest and ​sincere:


refuge (n.)

(a ​place that gives) ​protection or ​shelter from ​danger, ​trouble, ​unhappiness, etc.:



Idler (adj.)

not ​working or being used:

 An idle ​moment or ​period of ​time is one in which there is no ​work or ​activity:

 without ​work:


indulge (v.)

to ​allow yourself or another ​person to have something ​enjoyable, ​especially more than is good for you

to give someone anything they ​want and not to ​mind if they ​behave badly:



deluge (n.)

a lot of something:

a very ​large amount of ​rain or ​water:


swig (v.)

to ​drink, ​especially by ​swallowing large amounts in a ​seriesof ​single actions



sniff (v.)

to ​smell something by taking ​air in through ​your nose:

 to take ​air in ​quickly through ​your nose, usually to ​stopthe ​liquid inside the ​nose from ​flowing out:

 to ​speak in an ​unpleasant way, ​showing that you have a ​low opinion of something:


a ​quick breath in through the ​nose to ​smell something, or to ​stop liquid in the ​nose from coming out:


 relevant (Adj.)

connected with what is ​happening or being ​discussed

correct or ​suitable for a ​particular ​purpose:



tipping (n.)

 the ​activity of giving ​advice on which ​shares to ​buy or ​sell:

the ​act of giving an ​amount of ​money to someone who has ​provided a ​service, especially in a ​hotel or ​restaurant:



communal (Adj.)

belonging to or used by a ​group of ​people rather than one ​single person:

 A communal ​society is one in which everyone ​lives and ​works together and ​property and possessions are ​sharedrather than being ​owned by a ​particular person.

involving different ​social or ​religious groups within acommunity:


buoyant (Adj.)

able to ​float:

happy and ​confident:

successful or making a ​profit:


 collision (n.)

 a ​strong disagreement:


] an ​accident that ​happens when two ​vehicles hit each other with ​force:


 orthodox  (adj.)

(of ​beliefs, ​ideas, or ​activities) ​considered traditional, ​normal, and ​acceptable by most ​people:

(of ​religious people) having more ​traditional beliefs than other ​people in the same ​religious group

a ​part of the ​Christian Church, with many ​members in Greece, Russia, and ​eastern Europe


contemporary (Adj.)

 existing or ​happening now:

 belonging to the same or a ​stated period in the past:


someone ​living during the same ​period as someone ​else:

 a ​person who is of the same ​age as you:


bid (n.)

an ​offer to do something when you are ​competing with other ​people to do it:

an ​attempt to ​achieve or get something:


enlisted (Adj.)

An enlisted man/woman is a ​member of the ​armed forceswho is not an ​officer.


curators (n.)

a ​person in ​charge of a ​museum, ​library, etc.


apt (adj.)

suitable or ​right for a ​particular situation:

to be ​likely to do something or to often do something:

 having a ​natural ability or ​skill:


nirvana (n.)

a ​state of ​freedom from all ​suffering that Buddhists ​believe can be ​achieved by ​removing all ​personal wishes

a ​state of being ​perfect


Sanctuary (n.)

protection or a ​safe place, ​especially for someone or something being ​chased or ​hunted:

 a ​place where ​birds or ​animals can ​live and be ​protected, ​especially from being ​hunted or ​dangerous conditions:

 the most ​holy part of a ​religious building



Luddite (n.)

a ​person who is ​opposed to the ​introduction of new ​workingmethods, ​especially new ​machines





themy butter

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