A page to bookmark!

By Jake Cleaver, in Books · 16-10-2020 01:00:00 · 0 Comments
A page to bookmark!

After a long hot summer we are finally moving into the beautiful Autumn season here in the Algarve. There’s been some rain already and you can already see patches of green starting to emerge here and there. It’s clearly fast becoming the season of books and tea. And so, we at The Portugal News thought that it would be the perfect time to launch our new book section.

We are going to do our best to bring to you, not only book reviews, but also to let you know about all things ‘book’ that happen in our cosy little corner of the world.

Where else to start this endeavour than to pay a visit to the bookshop, that after being here for 18 years, local bookworms, not just in Carvoeiro (where its located) but all along the Algarve, have described as an ‘Institution’. We are of course talking about ‘The Algarve Book Cellar’. It’s a treasure trove of books seemingly piled endlessly on top of each other, where it’s possible to lose yourself forever in the search for your next page turner.

You might at first assume that it would be impossible to find anything in such a jumble. But there is order to the madness. Owner Raymond Compton assured me that he knows where everything is. I had to of course put this to the test and asked if he had one of my favourite books, that I lent out and never got back (know what it’s like?), called ‘The 100 year old man who climbed out of the window and disappeared’, Raymond walked back into the labyrinth of books and slipped it out of one of the shelves in under a minute. So that sure showed me. And for anybody interested, it is one of the funniest books I’ve ever read, and if you are quick Raymond still has one copy left!

As Raymond sat immersed in his books I asked him, expecting the answer to be no, if he could narrow it down to just one all time favourite. Turns out he could. He said he always loved ‘Papillon’. Which is the true story of a French man Henri Charrière, nicknamed Papillon (Butterfly in French), and his daring escape from the penal colony known as Devil’s Island. Raymond said that, as is usually the case, the book is far better than the film.

The Algarve Book Cellar runs a system where you can return books and get money off your next lot. Consequently they have lots of repeat business, and Raymond says he gets lots of what’s known as ‘Snowbirds’, which are retired people who quite sensibly choose to escape the snow and cold of their home countries and fly over to sunny Portugal for the winter. They are just delighted to find a place with English books. And to perfectly illustrate his point, a lovely couple from Texas came in. The lady had the most beautiful hat, and it soon became clear that they were regulars.

Raymond also says he gets plenty of Canadians coming in and his bookshop has even been mentioned in a Canadian newspaper - the word sure is getting around!

But it’s not just English books, Raymond took me deeper into his book layer and showed me rooms chock a block with Dutch, German and French books too. He even told me it’s not just in Canada that his bookshop is making an impression. In Holland somebody is working on turning a picture they took of his sky high piles of books into stamps. (Hopefully they will send him some in the post when they are done.)

As a last thought I asked Raymond if he has any other passions besides books? He told me that he grew up with an allotment and that he has had a love for gardening ever since. A fitting end to the story I thought, as I was reminded of the quote by Marcus Cicero, ‘If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need’, or even Oscar Wilde who said, ‘With freedom, books, flowers, and the moon, who could not be happy?’

The Algarve Book Cellar is running on a different schedule in these strange times and if you want to pay it a visit then try and get there before 1 pm, as it is shut in the afternoon. For newcomers yet to discover this Aladdin’s Cave of books, it’s not hard to find. It’s on the road into Carvoeiro, and a quick Google search should soon tell your phone the way.

For more information Tel: 282354310 or email: raymond.compton@gmail.com.


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