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Sharing our love for authors, and the stories they are inspired to tell.

“Sections In The Bookstore”

I came across this quote on Goodreads and although I can’t quite remember which member actually listed it,  I’m not ashamed to admit that each and every scenario was one I could instantly recognize and relate to, and may explain why just about every available inch of space in our home, is crammed full of books!

How could I not include it amongst my own favourite quotes?

Whilst I am not certain whether the book the words were from, is one I would be rushing to read, the premise is somehow oddly intriguing and alluring …

If On A Winter’s Night A Traveller

… is a marvel of ingenuity, an experimental text that looks longingly back to the great age of narration–“when time no longer seemed stopped and did not yet seem to have exploded.” Italo Calvino’s novel is in one sense a comedy in which the two protagonists, the Reader and the Other Reader, ultimately end up married, having almost finished If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller. In another, it is a tragedy, a reflection on the difficulties of writing and the solitary nature of reading. The Reader buys a fashionable new book, which opens with an exhortation: “Relax. Concentrate. Dispel every other thought. Let the world around you fade.” Alas, after 30 or so pages, he discovers that his copy is corrupted, and consists of nothing but the first section, over and over. Returning to the bookshop, he discovers the volume, which he thought was by Calvino, is actually by the Polish writer Bazakbal. Given the choice between the two, he goes for the Pole, as does the Other Reader, Ludmilla. But this copy turns out to be by yet another writer, as does the next, and the next.

The real Calvino intersperses 10 different pastiches–stories of menace, spies, mystery, premonition–with explorations of how and why we read, make meanings, and get our bearings or fail to. Meanwhile the Reader and Ludmilla try to reach, and read, each other. If on a Winter’s Night is dazzling, vertiginous, and deeply romantic. “What makes lovemaking and reading resemble each other most is that within both of them times and spaces open, different from measurable time and space.

Italo Calvino (1923-1985)

Image Of Author Italo CalvinoItalo Calvino was born in Cuba and grew up in Italy. He was a journalist and writer of short stories and novels. His best known works include the Our Ancestors trilogy (1952-1959), the Cosmicomics collection of short stories (1965), and the novels Invisible Cities (1972) and If On a Winter’s Night a Traveler (1979).

His style is not easily classified; much of his writing has an air of the fantastic reminiscent of fairy tales (Our Ancestors, Cosmicomics), although sometimes his writing is more “realistic” and in the scenic mode of observation (Difficult Loves, for example). Some of his writing has been called postmodern, reflecting on literature and the act of reading, while some has been labeled magical realist, others fables, others simply “modern”.

He wrote:

My working method has more often than not involved the subtraction of weight. I have tried to remove weight, sometimes from people, sometimes from heavenly bodies, sometimes from cities; above all I have tried to remove weight from the structure of stories and from language.



– Books you haven’t read

– Books you needn’t read

– Books made for purposes other than reading

– Books read even before you open them, since they belong to the category of books read before being written

– Books that if you had more than one life you would certainly also read, but unfortunately your days are numbered

– Books you mean to read, but there are others you must read first

– Books too expensive now and you’ll wait ’til they’re remaindered

– Books too expensive now and you’ll wait ’til they come out in paperback

– Books you can borrow from somebody

– Books that everybody’s read, so it’s as if you had read them too

– Books you’ve been planning to read for ages

– Books you’ve been hunting for years without success

– Books dealing with something you’re working on at the moment

– Books you want to own, so they’ll be handy just in case

– Books you could put aside, maybe to read this summer

– Books you need to go with other books on your shelves

– Books that fill you with sudden, inexplicable curiosity, not easily justified

– Books read long ago which it’s now time to re-read

– Books you’ve always pretended to have read and now it’s time to sit down and really read them

Happy Sunday Reading Everyone 🙂

Written by

I can’t remember a time, even as a child, when I haven’t been passionate about books and reading.
I began blogging, when I realised just how many other people out there shared my passion for the written word and I have been continually amazed at the wealth of books that are available and the amount of great new friends I have made, from literally 'The Four Corners Of The World'.

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  • I’ve loved the title of this book for years and often wonder if I ought to give it a go. I gather it’s a bit challenging but as long as I know that about a book before I set out I can usually cope.

    • Hi Cath,

      I have to admit that I hadn’t come across this book until the quote led me to it. I found myself reading the premise over and over again, trying to get the storyline straight in my head, although I am still not sure I have quite managed it … along with many others who have actually read it, if the vast array of reviews are anything to go by! I wonder if it is one of those books that you can try and read too much into and end up by unnecessarily confusing yourself?

      Probably not a book I would specifically set out to buy, but one I would pick up if I came face to face with it in a book sale somewhere!

      Thanks for taking the time to stop by and comment, it is good to hear from you and I hope that all is well with you 🙂

  • ‘The Reader buys a fashionable new book, which opens with an exhortation: “Relax. Concentrate. Dispel every other thought. Let the world around you fade’ – Amazing.

    Loving this list even if I can see me spending the rest of the day pondering which books I’d put in each of the categories.

    • Hi Tracy,

      I quite liked the words which preceeded your own favourites …

      ” … it is a tragedy, a reflection on the difficulties of writing and the solitary nature of reading.”

      Personally, I am okay with my solitary reading schedule, as I do need to have peace and quiet when I am reading. I can’t read in a room where there is any background noise or distraction.

      Similarly, I am not keen on discussing a book I have read or am reading, so being a member of a book club wouldn’t be for me. I am however, quite okay with having an online discussion, where again I can write down my thoughts in peaceful contemplation.

      Thanks for sharing your perspective about the book and quote and I hope that you had fun filling your own category list with books 🙂

  • If On A Winter’s Night sounds interesting.
    Funny enough, speaking of “Books you’ve been hunting for years without success” I read a book ages ago, at least 16 years ago, that I loved so much and lent to my sister, who of course lost it during a move. I searched and searched for that book, which of course I had forgotten the authors name back then and by now, the title, and I never did find it again. It irked me for a while, not being able to find that book again. It was a fantasy romance and I googled it, and asked other bookworms but no one had heard of it.
    Anyway, great post. I like that last line about “times and spaces open, different from measurable time and space….”
    Happy weekend!

    • Hi Naida,

      Generally I never read a book more than once and then I always give the book away, either to a friend or family member who has reading tastes similar to my own, or to the charity shop if it is a book that none of my immediate circle of contacts wants to read.

      I can relate to so many other categories in this quote though and that is quite scary! The only one I didn’t really understand is …

      “Books read even before you open them, since they belong to the category of books read before being written”

      If you can explain that one to me ? LOL

      Thanks for stopping by and I hope that all is well with you 🙂

        • Still pondering on this one Naida and none the wiser !

          It is a holiday weekend here, so an extra day off on Monday. Weather isn’t too great so far, but have still managed to get out and about. Have a full schedule for Sunday and Monday … Why do all these things come together, I really could use some time at home for the domestic chores 🙂

          Have a great Sunday!

  • The Calvino book sounds quite confusing to me and not one I think I’m tempted by. After all, there are too many “Books that if you had more than one life you would certainly also read, but unfortunately your days are numbered”! I love the list and can relate to SO many of the categories! 🙂

    • Hi Kelly,

      Whilst not a book I will be rushing out to buy, I am strangely interested and intrigued by the premise of this story. I am not certain that I would understand the obviously deep and meaningful messaging it offers the reader, but I could easily be persuaded to give it a go, if a copy were to be offered to me.

      I too, could relate to so many of the categories in the quote, although the one you cite in your comments, has to be right up there near the top! The one which probably sums up my reading dilemma right now, is probably ….

      “Books you mean to read, but there are others you must read first”

      Thanks for stopping by, as always, your comments are much appreciated and valued 🙂

  • Oooh that is a GREAT book. It is a challenging read though, as the story changes every single chapter. But if you enjoy experienmental style, it is AWESOME. One of Calvino’s best, and he is quite a writer.


    • Hi Nikki,

      Thanks for the recommendation for this story, it is always good to read the views of someone who has actually read the book.

      Whilst I couldn’t read and enjoy experimental writing all the time (I’m a bit too much of a traditionalist for that perhaps!), I have dabbled with some fairly ‘off the wall’ literary fiction in the past, which makes ‘If On A Winter’s Night A Traveller’, even more interesting and intriguing!

      Definitely one to watch for 🙂

Written by Yvonne