Bookshops of the World, Vol. 3: Dublin
Literary talent has never been in short supply in Ireland. From the legends like William Butler Yeats, James Joyce, Bram Stoker, and Oscar Wilde to more modern authors including Donal Ryan, Emma Donoghue, and Colm Tóibín, this tiny island is home to some of the true greats. Dublin itself is home to a vast array of bookshops, and I'd like to share my top three favourites with you here. You won't find any chain bookstores here — no Waterstones, no Barnes and Noble — but you're never left wanting.
Hodges and Figgis, Dawson Street, Dublin 2
Hodges and Figgis is my favourite bookshop in the whole world.
When I was an intern in Dublin during the summer of 2013, I used to spend hours after work wandering the floors in awe; when I was a masters student at University College Dublin, I would finish essays in the Starbucks next door and treat myself to a browse to celebrate. Not only is it Ireland's oldest surviving bookstore (open since 1763!), it boasts the largest collection of Irish literature and works on Ireland anywhere in the world. James Joyce himself name-drops it in Ulysses, and if it's good enough for Joyce, it's good enough for us all.
The Winding Stair, Lower Ormond Quay, Dublin 1
The Winding Stair is a riverfront bookshop that sells both new and secondhand books. Its interior is snug and warm, and sitting in one of the window seats with a cup of tea, a good book,and a view overlooking the River Liffey is truly one of the great pleasures in life — at least to me.
If you're looking for a smaller, quieter shopping experience, the Winding Stair is the by far the cosiest bookshop in Dublin. Best of all, it's directly across the road from my favourite bridge in Dublin, the Ha'Penny bridge, so named because it once cost half a penny to cross it. Built in 1816, it's one of the oldest iron bridges in the world, and certainly the most beautiful, especially at night.
Books Upstairs, D'Olier Street, Dublin 2
Books Upstairs is only a recent discovery of mine, which is shameful because I've worked across the street from it for a year and only recently went inside. Not only is it home to the Dublin Review of Books, it also sells both old and new books, and the basement has a fantastic selection of secondhand titles at great prices.The creaky floors add a delightful touch to the shop, and its window display always showcases the latest in Irish talent. Upstairs, visitors can find a gorgeous little cafe with stained glass windows — a lovely spot to sit and read the day away.