84, Charing Cross Road is what we call in the book club as our traveling book where a book will be passed on to each member who signed up right after he/she has finished reading it. I was third in line on the list and when it arrived at my office a few months ago, I was excited not so much about reading it, but by the sheer fascination of the concept of a book traveling from one place to another. Hee. 🙂
This book, 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff, is actually a collection of letters between the author herself who is in New York City and Frank Doel who works at a certain bookshop located at 84, Charing Cross Road in London, England.The correspondence between Helene and Frank and later the bookshop’s staff, portrays a progression of friendship that endured a span of more or less 20 years which began with a query on some hard-to-find books made by Helene on October 5, 1949.
According to Google, here is where 84, Charing Cross Road is located:
I would love to visit 84, Charing Cross Road if only to relive the moments that were portrayed on the book. Wikipedia says the Marks & Co. bookstore where Frank Doel used to work is no longer there at present, and a restaurant stands in its place.
Helene Hanff is a funny and witty lady as depicted in her letters, and she is kindhearted as well. Frank Doel, on the other hand, tries to maintain a formal demeanor initially considering that he is dealing with a business relationship, but later on he was won over by Helene’s queries and generosity. The books requested by Helene were all antiquarian, I haven’t even heard any of the books mentioned ever, but I am somewhat fascinated with the passion she has with reading and acquiring them.
With the influx of online shops and book stores who have delivery services to almost all parts of the world (i.e. Book Depository), and the growing popularity of ebooks, the ease of which books may be acquired these days is as easy as just a few mouse clicks. The friendship that developed between Helen Hanff and the 84, Charing Cross Road bookstore staff seems to be far from happening in this day and age of digital technology but I would like to think that books will always bind together people who love them, and in this way, I have found it in my book club which initiated this Travelling Book idea. And isn’t it lovely and so apt to have 84, Charing Cross Road as the book to start this concept?
I can’t wait to pass this on to Mae, and I hope wherever 84, Charing Cross Road travels to and in whose hands it will land through time, it will bring with it friendship and kindness and an unceasing love for books.