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I took the opportunity of being in Dublin for Roger Waters’s concert to visit one of my favourite bookshops.  I was a bit worried as someone had recently told me that he had seen that shop across from Trinity College (on College Green), but that it had closed down.  To my relief, I found out that the shop was still there and open, and I could leave my feelings of mourning behind.  I consequently felt it was my duty to buy a couple of books and did not feel too guilty about spending.

 

What is it that I like so much about Books Upstairs?  Hard to say…  The shop in itself is not that extraordinary, although I really like that little mezzanine. 

I feel comfortable in this small cosy shop and love browsing books there.  They have an excellent selection of books and a good choice of fiction that entice to discovery.  I have often bought books there that I was not looking for and have enjoyed them.  This is where I bought my first Carver!  Before the few shelves dedicated to fiction, you will find two whole shelves of discounted new books.  The prices of those books are more than decent and you will thus be less reluctant about buying a book you have never heard of.

I also really like their non-fiction selection, especially in literary criticism.  I guess this is due to the fact that they are located near Trinity College.  You won’t find the usual Oxford Very Short Introduction series, which you can find in any major bookstore, but you will find books from Routledge and others at affordable prices.  For someone like me, who buys a lot of literary criticism books, it can become expensive and I tend to buy them second-hand on the internet.  However, here, I have the pleasure of flicking the pages before buying, and they always have a few on sale.

You will find books that you don’t find everywhere, and I guess that’s what I like.  Of course, they have some bestsellers and main stream new titles, but you might come across a gem you weren’t aware of.  They also have some chapbooks and various journals, which is something you don’t see everywhere.  If you’re ever in Dublin, I highly recommend you pop in and spend a few euros.

I was chatting to the lady working there and actually discovered that they also sell online.  Their website is down at the minute, but you can find them on Amazon.

As I said, their choice of discounted books is amazing and you will be more willing to buy a book you do not know of.  I treated myself with three books.  The first is just a German phrasebook for my forthcoming trip; I was grateful to finally find one that costs less than a fiver.  The second is by an author I have never heard of before: Denis Hamill.  The title of his novel, Fork in the Road, caught my attention.  After a quick look at the synopsis and reading the first page, I was convinced. 

 

I also bought Amulet by Roberto Bolano.  He is not an unknown author as his novel 2066 is much talked about, but I have not read anything by him.  I was glad to find this book which is less intimidating than 2066 and tickled my curiosity.

I’m delighted with my findings and look forward to reading them!

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This is a new feature on my blog: I will be posting on the various bookstores I visit.

Yesterday, I went to do my Christmas shopping and visited my favourite bookstore in Cork: Vibes & Scribes.  They actually have three stores in the city.  The first two, on Lavitt’s Quay, are adjacent.  One is dedicated to crafts and the other to art and photography books. 

Craft store sign

Art book store sign

 

The art book store

There is a huge choice of books on various topics such as cooking, travel, Irish interest, etc, and many gift ideas, which are presented on display tables.  They also have a section for children’s books and fiction/classics, although it is much smaller than in their other store.  It is a nice store but I find its layout a little too open for my liking.  I think it is too bright and modern, but the selection there is fantastic.

Bridge Street store

Bridge Street store: entrance to another world

The store on Bridge Street is my favourite.  The door itself is inviting.  It is an old building with floors made of wood and apparent beams on the ceiling of the top floor.  There is a nice atmosphere and customers tend to take their time and be absorbed browsing. 

The ground floor has an interesting choice of fiction, classics and children’s books, as well as a sample of art books and the likes.  The first floor is the domain of second-hand books.  They are categorised and alphabetically ordered, which is rare for second-hand bookshops.  I could spend hours there, I love browsing the shelves and the music they play is always great, although maybe not to everybody’s taste (it was brilliant as a relief from Christmas music).  I also appreciate the fact that they have separated chick lit from fiction.  They also have a section for classics, drama/poetry/short stories and foreign books.  However, I was disappointed not to see their section for literary criticism yesterday.

Ground floor: new books

First floor: second-hand books

Their prices are reasonable and they usually have many special offers.  Yesterday, you could get 3 new books for €12 and the choice was great.  I had to refrain myself from buying everything.  I also spotted the paperback edition of The Year of the Flood for €6.99; I was impressed!  One of the books you can always find at the counter is The Little Prince by St Exupery; it’s the Wordsworth edition and is therefore cheap (they also have an Irish version of it).  I always add a copy of it to my shopping as I love offering this book.  However, I found their prices for second-hand books a bit dear: they were mostly at €4.99 or €5.99.  That’s more than the new ones on special offer.  I tend to buy second-hand because it allows me to get more books and books I would not necessarily have bought otherwise, but as I did not find any that were at the top of my list, I resisted the impulse.

At the minute, books that are at the top of my list are written by Canadians and I did not see that many.  Of course, Atwood, Munro, Martell and Shields were there, and there might have been others I did not see, but the choice was quite limited.  I suppose it is normal; after all, it is a bookshop in Ireland and it should promote its own national literature, which it does.  You could therefore find Room by Emma Donoghue on one of the tables suggesting gift ideas (I’m just teasing).

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