So the story of how I discovered this bookshop all begins with, funnily enough, a book. The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George is a read that I could not recommend enough. I read it last summer and it is honestly the perfect summer-time read and will give you a total craving to go to Paris.
The basic gist of the book is that Jean Perdu runs a bookshop out of a barge on the Seine that he sees as a ‘literary apothecary’, for this bookseller possesses a rare gift for sensing which books will soothe the troubled souls of his customers. The only person he is unable to cure, it seems, is himself. A new neighbour inspires Jean to unlock his heart, unmoor the floating bookshop and set off for Provence, in search of the past and his beloved. 10/10 would recommend.
So flash forward to a few months after finishing that book, vowing I would take a trip to Paris soon and adding The Little Paris Bookshop to my Goodreads favourites shelf, I see a Facebook page for Word on the Water a book barge just like in the novel except it was in London and I was taking a theatrical trip there with my mother in the summer so it was decided that we would visit.
Before going to see The Railway Children at the Kings Cross Theatre, we popped down to Regents Canal for a wander and to find this barge. The canal is a beautiful walk anyway, especially on a sunny day but Word on the Water is totally adorable, it has a large array of books in all genres and there is a dog which is always a fun addition to any place. But the real gem about this whole bookshop experience is the owner. I was speaking to one of them and it turns out that the bookbarge wasn’t created in the image of TLPB but in fact Nina George based her novel on WOTW! Jean Perdu is a mixture of the two authors so I asked if he could “prescribe” a book to me like Jean does and well he recommended me some pretty solid books. Day, week, month, year = made!
So, you may be interested to know what I was “prescribed”. The Snow Geese by William Fiennes, The Wayward Bus by John Steinbeck and Billy Liar by Keith Waterhouse. I still haven’t managed to read any of them yet because my to-read list is so big but I really look forward to it and will post book reviews when the time comes.
Update: It’s a year later now and, of course, any chance I get to be in London and near Kings Cross I make a visit to my favourite floating bookshop. This time I got to share the joy with my sister who also fell in love with it. (As a side note, the whole canal is super cute in December, there’s even a floating Christmas market selling mulled wine not too far away from WOTW.) It was really nice to catch up with my Jean Perdu and I was super happy to hear about this awesome New York Times article that’s been bringing lots of business to the boat. This time around I decided to choose a few books for myself and decided on Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood, a modern re-telling of Shakespeare’s The Tempest in the context of a theatre program in prisons. I’ve heard great things about Atwood and this book in particular on a blog so I definitely wanted to give this one a go. I also decided it was about time I read some Maya Angelou so I picked up a copy of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings – it’s another one of those ‘should have read by now’ books. Finally, I found a gorgeous wee pocket sized copy of The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupéry – it is the favourite book of one of my favourite people so I decided to give it a read and see what’s so special.
It really is the best concept ever for a second-hand bookshop and I would really love to see it stay afloat (see what I did there) – if you’re ever in London, go there and buy some books!