Monthly Archives: December 2013

Second Hand, First Class!

Although the city has lost many of its favourite, second-hand bookshops in recent years, it’s good to see that quite a few have sprung up to fill the gap. In these straitened times it’s great news that readers can buy books at the ‘right price’, and long may it continue. These second-hand bookshops serve a growing need  and, in the process, are establishing themselves with their appreciative and growing, customers numbers.

Sweny's Pharmacy

Sweny’s Pharmacy

Some shops sell a range of genres while others serve a niche market. One such shop is Sweny’s in Lincoln Place  which  specialises in Irish books, where you can get anything from Roddy Doyle, Sebastian Barry to William Trevor, James Joyce or Oscar Wilde. The shop was, in a previous life, a pharmacy and it still retains many of the original features. It has its own unique place in Irish literary history as it is mentioned in Joyce’s Ulysses. In fact, they hold weekly readings of the great man’s work, which is worth considering if you, like many others, have trouble in getting to grips with reading the difficult but ultimately rewarding book. And, there’s always a complementary cup of tea on offer!

Sweny's - living history...

Sweny’s – living history…

All these shops have their own unique atmosphere, something which makes browsing all the more interesting. Some are small, almost hidden away upstairs in old shops or markets, all vying for much-needed attention and trade. On the other hand, Chapters (Parnell Street) is probably the biggest of them all, and it has plenty of reduced new titles on sale. Upstairs is the second-hand section and it is well laid out and stuffed with books. The shelves are full and there are a few seats where readers can sit and ‘dip-into’ a  book before buying. It’s a nice feature, and something that I have often taken advantage of. Also, the shop will do ‘trade-ins’ of your old books, either for cash or credit, and that can’t be bad.


Chapters – stuffed with books!

So, check out the second-hand shops, either in town or in your locality, they are worth a visit and, more importantly, worth supporting.


Filed under Dublin, James Joyce

Write On!

The other night in Dubray Books, Rathmines, was a book-signing event with a difference. And what a difference! The management had arranged a Local Authors’ Night and invited writers who live in the area, and all were ‘interviewed’ by our host, the international bestselling author John Connolly.


…and asking the questions..

The place was buzzing long before John began, and the complimentary glasses of wine loosened tongues adding to the excited anticipation. Should John Connolly ever decide to stop writing (something I, and many others, certainly hope is a long way off!) he could make it as an interviewer. He asked each of the authors about their work; how they came to write their books; what inspired them and what was ‘coming next’. This was all done in a friendly, easy style and his humourous comments were well-timed and much appreciated. A writer’s writer – top man!

Afterwards, I managed to have a word with John and he signed my first edition copy of Dark Hallow which I bought in 2000. ‘Yes,’ I said ‘I’ve been waiting 13 years for this – and it’s been worth it.’ He was generous with his time and gave me a few insider tips on writing and submitting work to agents and publishers,  something for which I am extremely grateful.


Me and John Connolly – write on!

All the authors happily signed books, many of which no doubt will be given as Christmas presents to lucky readers. It was an excellent night and the staff in Dubray Books deserve a mention for being friendly and helpful throughout – well done indeed.

Authors in attendance: Sarah Harte, Alan Glynn, Maurice Curtis, Arlene Hunt, Sean O’Connor, David Graham, Susan Stairs, Jennifer Ridyard and Rosemary McLoughlin.

Question: What do you call a group of authors?

Answer: I don’t know – maybe a sheet (of authors)! Any ideas…..

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Filed under Dublin