Sunday, April 13, 2014

Discovering "Life After Life" at a Traditional Bookstore (READ: UPDATE)

My local bookstore, the Buchhandlung Friedrichshain, stands empty. I suspect that it's another victim of online retail. Of course, shopping online is cheaper and offers more variety than the traditional brick and mortar bookstore. However, there's something special about browsing at local bookstore. Perhaps, it's discovering that unexpected treasure tucked away on a dusty shelf or just wandering the cluttered aisles. In any case, it's the coziness of the local bookstore that I like and will miss.

With the closure of the Buchhandlung Friedrichshain, I now trek to Dussmann, Berlin's largest bookstore. Don't get me wrong. I love Dussmann's. It has everything you could possibly want, including a wonderful English language bookstore on the ground floor. But Dussmann's isn't like a neighborhood bookstore. It's not intimate and certainly not quirky. 

On the other hand, it's at Dussmann's where I recently discovered Kate Atkinson's remarkable novel, Life After Life. I wouldn't have found it online. Life After Life is moving, perceptive, and even funny. Can parallel universes exist? Is time-travel a possibility? Is there such a thing as destiny? Atkinson's ingenious novel is not a light read. There's plenty of detail and intricate plotting. It's about the fragility of life and having chances. Specifically, about having a chance to relive life again and again. It's a book that stays with you, long after you've finished it. 

UPDATE:
May 9, 2014

Buchhandlung Friedrichshain is now Shakespeare and Sons selling used books and offering bagels. I haven't had the opportunity to go in, but it looks very interesting. I'll post a review soon.

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