Bookish Spots of Paris: I Love My Blender

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Ever since my study abroad in May of 2008, I can't help but feel nostalgic during the month of May. Going to Paris was a childhood dream, and I worked and saved money for the trip for over a year. Spending seven weeks in France whetted instead of satiated my appetite for all things French, and even now I get a little misty when I look back at my pictures. One thing that surprised me was the abundance of fantastic bookshops. For the next four weeks, I want to highlight a bookish spot that I fell in love with when I went to Paris.

This week's spot is I Love My Blender, a fantastic little spot on 36 Rue de Temple that I stumbled across completely by accident. One afternoon after classes, my roommate Lisa and I decided to wander the streets surrounding the our building. There were a few cafes, several expensive boutiques, the panini stands where we bought lunch each day, and a quaint little window, filled with brightly colored objects and books with a sign saying I Love My Blender. We had been told that day in class that we needed to buy a map, so we figured it was as good a place as any. We wandered into the shop, requested a map in awkward French, and were directed to a small display near the cash register by a young, smiling Parisian. As we looked for an appropriate map, I was distracted by the books on the shelves next to the register - I saw French versions of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares, The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman, and the Harry Potter books. I thought for a few seconds about buying myself a French translation of one of these books that I loved and knew so well, but decided against it - I wanted to save my money for other things, and I had already brought four books with me.

However, I didn't realize that the forty minute train ride each way from Le Pecq (where I was staying) to Paris would quickly eat up my books, as well as the hour or two we spent in the parks reading and relaxing during the hottest parts of the afternoon (more on that in a future post). Soon I had devoured all my books except A Tale of Two Cities (which I am reading now... I have a complicated relationship with the book). In my French literature class we had just finished reading the madeleine story by Proust (which is stunning in French, I might add) and I decided the perfect souvenir/way to stretch my book-loving mind was to buy a copy of Remembrance of Things Past by Proust. (I had no idea how huge or difficult it was). So I made my way to the only bookstore I knew, I Love My Blender.

After a few minutes of poking through the shelves, the store-owner asked me if I needed help. I explained what I was looking for and he told me that all of his books were either written in English or translated from English into French. Oh. I felt a little embarrassed, especially because this was a young, handsome French man, speaking entirely in
French to me, unlike most of the people I interacted with, who would switch to English as soon as they realized I was American. However, even after I realized the story didn't have what I was looking for, I couldn't drag myself away. Further exploration showed that a little fewer than half the books were in English, with their translated counterparts on the other side. Little signs saying "Read This Book!" in English directed me to some of the owner's favorites.

After that, I stopped into the shop at least once a week, bringing more friends each time. The shop-owner was always friendly and helpful, giving recommendations of different books and having conversations with me about books we had both read. It was nerve-wracking to have these conversations in French, but my enthusiasm for the subject (and slight crush on the shop-owner) kept me persevering. He asked us where we were from and told us we spoke very good French - to this day I don't know if he was sincere or flirting with les filles americaines a little bit, but I do know I turned several shades of red. We talked about Elizabeth Gilbert's writing style and he recommended the brilliant but acid-trippy Cloud Atlas to me.

I don't know if the shop is still there, but I earnestly hope that it is. (I know I have one or two French readers - have you ever been here?) When I return to Paris, 36 Rue de Temple is one of the first stops I want to make. The bookshop led me to some of my favorite books and also some of the best conversations I've ever had in a foreign language.

Oh, and I should mention - I asked him where the name of his shop came from. He shrugged his shoulders. I then asked if he loved his blender and he got this look of utter love on his face and emphatically nodded his head. So there you go.


  1. That sounds amazing! And I am uber-impressed with you being able to read in French. I can't even really speak any other languages, much less read them. Very awesome, can't wait to see what other bookish spots you discovered!

  2. Cloud Atlas! We had to read that in my literature class after Satanic Verses. Embarrassed to say I didn't get through it, I was overwhelmed by other school work, but I fully intend on reading it through this summer. I want to know what you think.

  3. What an experience! I'm dreaming about learning French...I might take a French language course one of these days.

  4. There is nothing more delightful than discovering a new bookstore - and to discover it in Paris must be incredible! I'm battling agoraphobia right now, but one of the things I'd love to do when I'm recovered is hop across to Paris (I'm English) and see what little treasures I can find, and spend a day lurking in Shakespeare & Co.! Gorgeous post, I love it!

  5. @Sarah - I can kind of read in French, but it's definitely an ordeal.

    @A Mitton - Read it! It's an acid trip, but a fun one... haha.

    @Pepca - Do it! French is so fun to speak, although the accent is a beast at first.

    @Ellie - Shakespeare & Co is one of my favorite places in the world! Definitely hope you are able to get to France soon, it is a beautiful place although a bit overwhelming. I hadn't spent much time in cities before I went (I grew up in a small town). So fun though - I would love to hear your reaction if you ever went there. If I ever make it to England I want to go to your bookshop!


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