I have just spent a wonderful long weekend in Glasgow visiting a friend who I haven’t seen since before I moved to Hong Kong. As I had some free moments to explore by myself I thought it was only fitting to research some of the best bookshops to visit whilst there. One that came top of the list was the aptly-named Voltaire and Rousseau Bookshop on Otago Lane North in the city’s West End. Although it doesn’t specialise in French or foreign literature, it has an impressive second-hand collection of books from a variety of subject areas to explore. Opened in 1972, Voltaire and Rousseau has had a very literary customer-base. I was delighted to find out that Margaret Atwood had been into the shop once, amongst many other authors, and had to visit right away!
Now, Voltaire and Rousseau is not a bookshop you want to visit if you have a particular book in mind that you want to buy. As you can see in the picture above, I have never seen so many piles and piles of books precariously stacked against ceiling-high bookshelves. Although arranged loosely into categories, such as literature, history, philosophy, classics, etc, it seemed to be more chaotic than organised, making it difficult to find anything that you might particularly want. With that in mind, it was definitely a good idea to go in with an open mind and to just explore the treasure-trove of books on offer. Although I was too scared to delve too far into the piles of books (in case they all came tumbling down) I did happen to find a great selection of literature books and the prices were relatively cheap. I managed to limit myself to buying just one book for the grand total of £2.75!
I decided on A Short Residence in Sweden & Memoirs of the Author of ‘The Rights of Woman’ by Mary Wollstonecraft and William Godwin as I remembered listening to a podcast on BBC 4 Woman’s Hour in October about Bee Rowlatt’s newest book on the pioneering eighteenth-century feminist, Mary Wollstonecraft, called In Search of Mary. Instead of focusing on her most famous piece of writing, The Vindication of the Rights of Woman, Rowlatt looks at her travels through Scandinavia in search of a lost treasure ship that she hopes will help her find happiness again. When I came across this piece of writing, A Short Residence in Sweden, in Voltaire and Rousseau, I couldn’t resist buying it. It is also accompanied by Memoirs of the Author of ‘The Rights of Woman’, written by Wollstonecraft’s husband, William Godwin, shortly after her death in 1797. This will also fit in nicely to the Women’s Classic Literature Event I will be partaking in during 2016 and my ongoing Feminist Project.