The first thing I noticed when I entered were the chairs. They reminded me of the first grade. And then I realized that the afternoon traffic din didn’t follow us into the bistro despite its location. My friend still pointed it out. We had walked on the noise polluted streets, overflowing with cars controlled by impatient civilians. One driver didn’t wait. He snapped at me to move faster while he inched forward with his car.
I snapped at him back.
I sat down and took in the quiet.
When I entered the bookstore, I was greeted with a strange sentence, “I think I’ve seen you somewhere.”
I’d certainly never seen him before.
We exchanged information regarding university and courses. The bookstore clerk is currently a graphic design freelancer. I liked what he was wearing. From there the conversation hopped to the types of books and prices. I was so excited to be there because I had heard so much about the place that I forgot to take a picture of the bookstore…
Anyways my friend and I ordered lunch and then waited for the others. Gossip over wine is healthy sometimes.
On the very same day I went out to buy Salma’s gift, I stumbled upon The Little Bookshop for the first time. The contrast between the yellow ochre walls and the surrounding concrete highlights its presence. It was such a lovely surprise since I had never heard of the place.
Don’t be surprised.
I am the Patrick among my friends and the rock I live under shines.
Recalling from the previous post, Dalia and I entered the store so we could marvel at the collection of books and I had hope I could find the novels my friend wanted. The first thing you notice when you step in is how small and warmly lit the place is.
A man stood behind the desk and a woman sat at one of the corners, a cup of coffee next to her, reading. The man greeted us with a smile before I asked if he was the owner of the place. Turned out he was. Wow. I had already decided to write about this place before stepping in but now I could get more personal details about the store from the owner.
I struck up conversation with the owner and the woman while Dalia looked through the books. We exchanged names- Adib Rahhal, the owner, and Melissa Tabeek, a Journalist. Conversation flowed more smoothly after a few moments. I brought up my blog, told them that I wanted to write about this place. Mr. Adib seemed pleased with the idea, even granted me permission to take pictures. Miss Melissa responded with the name of her blog and referred to the article she had written about The Little Bookshop for Agenda Culturel.
The topic soon switched to how I found the place. Mr. Adib wasn’t surprised that I hadn’t known of the store’s existence. He proclaimed that he wasn’t interested in catalyzing the store’s popularity because he wanted to retain the intimate relationship between him and his customers. He soon added that the collection on the shelves were specially picked by him and based on recommendations by customers.
To elaborate on the intimacy of this store, take Antoine bookstore for example. I go in, find what I am looking for and then come out. Personally, I don’t feel like I can linger there for a conversation like I could at The Little Bookshop. Its obvious Antoine was meant to be a commercial space; a place more focused on selling commodities than forming one-on-one acquaintanceship with other book lovers. However, doesn’t mean you can’t try to strike conversation with one of the employees.
Miss Melissa also helped me understand the intimacy the store owner tries to retain when she shared her appreciation of the place. She expressed how frequently she drops by during her free time for some conversation or reading, while feeling relaxed. Certainly adds to the friendly and calm ambiance of the place.
“A small cosy space that sells a collection of books based on the owner and the customers recommendations.” -Adib Rahhal
I read Miss Melissa’s piece on this place for. Her article will give you a better insight since she has visited the place many times before. I just happen to stumble upon the place and couldn’t help but write something about it.
If you happen to be near Jeanne D’Arc street and you are a book lover, I recommend you check out the place.
The weather was bipolar- coordinating outfits by it was a joke. Salma’s birthday was approaching and this year she, and the rest of us, made a list of gifts we wanted. Ranine and I split up buying the requested books and notified each other whenever one of the novels was purchased or spotted.
Fascinating list (I hadn’t heard of any of these).
So on a very meh day, I set out to buy the books when my friend, Dalia, messaged me that she was in Hamra. I was ecstatic! The last time I saw her was at the AIESEC conference back in March.
I met her and her two other friends on Bliss Street. Friendly, bubbly ladies who are studying Business at AUB. Let’s call them Reem and Sara. One of them recommended a Facebook page I think you will find interesting: The Shelf Club.
The obvious bookstore to go to was Antoine, one of Lebanon’s most popular book-selling franchises. However, before my companions and I reached Hamra Street, Sara needed to go to a nearby salon for a last minute appointment. There was no reason to object. On our way there, I laid eyes on the ochre walls of a place called The Little Bookshop.
I remember announcing excitedly that I wanted to check out the place. I think Dalia reacted the same as I did and Sara and Reem didn’t mind. Moreover, there was a chance that one of the books I was looking for could be sitting on one of the store’s shelves. After exploring the intimate collection of books, I didn’t find any of the books…
Doesn’t mean we left without purchasing anything.
We arrived at the salon where we were welcomed with smiles. Luckily one of the beauticians could squeeze Sara in for a last minute appointment. In fact, they could squeeze all of us for a quick touch on our nails as well. Truth be told, I’d never gotten my nails done at a salon before. I’m not a very girly person (I think I got more girly when I started university) and so the very few times I painted my nails, I did it by myself. Not that I was any good at it, unlike my little sister who can make cool patterns and much more.
Anyways, after being convinced by the other girls I decided to give it a shot. Picking a color took a while because I’m indecisive and I’ve only tried two basic colors: crimson red and dark violet. Nail polish bottles of different brands probably have different exaggerated names for those two colors but that’s it really. Tempted I was to choose the dark violet but then Reem pushed me to go for a lighter shade. So I decided to try Lilac.
I ended up liking it more than I expected. Lilac nail polish is here to stay!
While waiting for my nails to dry, I suddenly remembered Antoine’s closing time, leaving me approximately an hour to get there and shop. Sara wasn’t done yet, so Reem, Dalia, and I left for Antoine. When we arrived, I headed down to where the novels were kept only to discover someone I met recently worked there. Tossing my feelings of shyness away, I said hi to him and he responded happily before helping me look for the listed books.
I got 1/5 of them.
I was slightly disappointed but considering my budget and the fact that she was definitely getting two more books from Ranine, I was thankful that I found at least one of the novels. Salma had had warned us that these novels would be hard to find.
Dalia, Reem and I soon caught up with Sara and then headed back to Reem’s dorm to have a break from being outside.
I memorable day although only little events unfolded. The little things count.