A special kind of 4th of July party

My friend and I got back to Zurich from New York yesterday, which means we missed out on the 4th of July festivities in the US. But we managed to return in time for the Zürifäscht starting tonight. It also meant I got to celebrate a different kind of party at the English Bookshop by Orell Füssli.

I’ve loved bookshops since I was little, spending hours of my youth in Bern’s Stauffacher and Thalia as well in Frankfurt’s Hugendubel. Browsing in books, dvds and video games, they have been havens of relaxation for me. When I came to Zurich I quickly discovered the exclusively English Bookshop with its prime location on the Bahnhofstrasse. During my university years reading unfortunately took a back seat to other interests, but since the beginning of the year I’ve made reading at least three books a week a goal of mine. So naturally, I’ve been spending more and more time (and money) at the Bookshop.

Therefore, I was delighted to receive an invitation to a roaring twenties party at the Bookshop a few weeks ago. Fresh off seeing the visual sensation Great Gatsby, a party dedicated to the era of jazz seemed like a great idea. The discounts of 15% for regular customers and 20% for those who dressed up in 20% were another major draw of the evening.

It was a shame the 5% extra discount proved to be too little incentive for most men to bring their Gatsby style. It was left to the band and the employees to hold the banners of 20s style. On the other hand, the attending ladies put a lot more thought into their outfits then their male counterparts. Elegant dresses were seen on all levels with graceful headpieces being the accessory of the night. I can only tip my imaginary hat to all the fantastic get-ups seen yesterday.

The highlight of the evening however was the entertainment. Jill’s cocktail band playing tunes of the era and two skilled dancers providing the ambience for the party.  Watching them move and play I was able to feel like a time traveller. They made easy to imagine the Bookshop turned into a New York backdoor speak-easy with exquisite champagne, carefully curated food and delightful desserts.

I was able to talk to the young British couple Tom & Anna, who were stopping by Zurich on their Europe Interrail journey and came upon the shop by chance. The party and shop left them pleasantly surprised by the city and hopefully also Swiss culture. It’s these spontaneous events that make living in the city such a pleasant adventure.

Between talking to staff and enjoying the entertainment, I spent the rest of my evening browsing through my favorite sections and exploring the redesigned layout of the shop. The ground floor now features the sections probably least interesting to me at the moment: Fiction and Crime. The top level now includes all biographies and an extended young adult section with graphic novels and travel books now grouped on the lower level with fantasy, sci-fi and DVDs. Yesterday, I spent most of my time on the lower level thinking about buying the second season of Game of Thrones. However, I decided to opt for the Blu-Ray edition. The high-quality DVDs and books focused on Internet topics such as blogging are two of the gaps in the otherwise expansive selection at the Bookshop.

I ended up buying four books last night: The first one is Neil Gaiman’s “The ocean at the end of the lane” featured I’ve been looking forward to for a while (see my post on summer reading). To begin my science fiction education, I got “The Player of games” by the late Iain M. Banks. I also finally bought my own copy of the brilliant “A monster calls” to shore up my Patrick Ness collection. The last book is about Creative Writing, which will hopefully benefit the editing process of my story so far. Two graphic novels were on my list at the beginning of the evening, but unfortunately both of them were sold out.

The event yesterday took me on a journey to the twenties and provided me with books ready to take me on a journey to faraway worlds. It just shows that a venue that features books is always a portal into a different and magical world.

I do not work for the Bookshop or am in any way affiliated with Orell Füssli. I’m just a very happy customer and reader and would like more people to discover the store, especially as physical bookshops are under increased economic pressure. Over the years I’ve received many recommendations at the shop and so far I have yet to encounter a book I didn’t enjoy. So thank you to Schira, Rafael and Nick!

In another note, please also check out my new and updated “About me” page, the first step in the improvement to this website. So please subscribe, like and share! I’m back after the weekend highlighted by the Zürifäscht with a week full of more NYC and US-inspired posts.

Sincerely yours,

PS: I didn’t take my own pictures because, well, I’m a terrible photographer, but I’m sure some of the pictures will appear only at the Orell Füssli Website or Facebook page!