By Richard West     "Spain sobs, Italy wails, Germany bellows, Flanders howls, only France sings," goes an 18th-century (surprise) French saying. Yes, but what about the Marshall Islands way beyond God's back in Melanesia out in the South Pacific? After reading Peter Rudiak-Gould's charmingly funny memoir on spending a year

The front window of Idlewild Books in New York City. Idlewild Books is probably the best travel bookshop I've ever had the luck to visit. I say "probably," because there are other contenders, like Stanford's in London. But then Stanford's is a bit on the dry side, while Idlewild has

  Reviewed by Richard West David Byrne has gone from writing charmingly goofy lyrics while fronting for Talking Heads, the art-school punk band he cofounded in the 1970’s, to a polymathic avant-gardist involved in movie directing, art installations, photography, collaborations with Twyla Tharp, and now a prose stylist with Bicycle

Shakespeare and Company, Paris. Photo by Dena Timm. The best English-language bookshops in Paris, Vienna and Lucerne … By Richard West PARIS Shakespeare & Co. (37, rue de Bucherie): Surely the most well-known bookshop in Europe, founded in 1951 by the now-in-his-90’s, George Whitman, who still describes the three sprawling

Reviewed by Richard West "Parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus. The mountains are in labor, and a silly mouse will be born." Well said, Horace, in your "Epistles, Book Two," but times have changed. Actually it's a Bosavi woolly rat, the world's largest (32" long, 3 lbs.), one of  40 new

  Libreria Acqua Alta, Venice By Richard West Finally in our hotel room in Rome. Unpacking the luggage, all seems well –camera, return-flight valium, phone recharger. Wait! The books. No books. Good to learn early what’s been forgotton, the books we planned to guide and amuse us through Rome-Venice-Vienna-Lucerne-Paris. Luckily,

Reviewed by Richard West "I speak Spanish to God, Italian to women, French to men, and German to my horse," imperially declared Charles V in Dianne Hales' La Bella Lingua: My Love Affair With Italian, The World's Most Enchanting Language, (Broadway Books,  301 pgs., $24.95). It's a delightful, informative tour

Stonington Harbor, courtesy of the Inn at Stonington. The most relaxing summer reading I can think of is a book by Anthony Bailey called The Coast of Summer. This longtime New Yorker writer — an Englishman, no less –- brings me back to my New England youth with his tales

Reviewed by Richard West     Many are the reasons to visit France: the way they butcher meat, the seriousness of the pharmacies, the world’s best foie gras, the fastest trains, children’s exemplary behavior in restaurants, the unexpected road signs warning you about beetroots (betteraves) in red triangles. For me, however,

By Richard West     The perfect companion to Eiffel’s Tower (reviewed above) is Spectacular Paris, a gorgeous coffee-table book by the renowned publisher of beautiful photographic volumes, Rizzoli International Publications. William Scheller’s text is as illuminating as the pictures and illustrations. Chapter Eight, “The Building of Modern Paris,” begins a