January 2017 / Bookshop review & much more / reading time: 3 minutes (600 words)
After the terrible 2016 that we’ve had, I arrived at Christmas worn out and frazzled. I then spent Christmas eating too much, not exercising, watching too much tv and this year, like so many others, nursing a cold. By the time it was over, I certainly didn’t want to write a longform blogpost. In fact, I just wanted to get away from everything. Wonderfully I managed that just a few days ago when I visited the most remarkable and perhaps least known bookshop in Dublin, Escape into Books.
My godmother, Barbara Byrne, gave me a Christmas present of the book token that was in my coat pocket. My buddy, the artist Philip Barrett, gave me directions, but I still got lost twice before I finally found the bookshop. It didn’t look like much from the outside. The front door creaked loudly as I ventured in.
Inside the elderly bearded owner was playing jazz on a battered tape deck. He didn’t look up from his book to say hello. It looked like a typically cluttered, if charming, second hand book shop. But it was a lot bigger than I expected. Although thin, it extended right back into the building. I could understand how someone might while a few hours away here although it looked empty.
But just when I could barely hear the jazz music and thought I was near the back of the shop, there was a sharp turn in the corridor. Going around that corner, I found the other customers and realised why Phil had recommended this shop. It was a peaceful and relaxing space. It was amazing really.
But I didn’t stay here long even though I wanted to. There was a stairwell at the side of the room that caught my attention. I walked up it into Escape into books‘s vintage book collection. They were in as beautiful a room as I’ve ever stood in.
I walked the length of the hall. No music playing. Just the sound of my footsteps echoing. I don’t know anything about old books, but I looked at the titles. I decided to try out the book on the history of the world and go back downstairs to that beanbag with my name on it.
But I saw a thin, dirty hallway in the corner of the vintage book room. There was a warm breeze coming under the door at the end. And the sound of birdsong. The door scraped off the floor as I pushed it open. Behind it was an old passageway to the top of the building. I started up the steps.
I’m tall so I had to be careful to duck my head as I climbed the steps. What was odd was that the higher up I went the warmer it became. By the time, I got to the top steps, I was roasting. As I stepped out of the stairway, I realised why.
I walked out of the cave and took off my jumper and my shoes and socks. I rolled up my trousers. I sat down on the sand and gazed out at the sea. I put down the book.
I’m still here now. Sitting in the sun. At peace.
I don’t think I’m coming back.
I’ve got my laptop with me so if you drop me a comment I might give you directions to this remarkable bookshop.
And I’d love to know – where would you like to escape to in books or bookshops in 2017?