There are a few good independent booksellers left in Dublin. The new-ish Gutter Bookshop is particularly pleasing for its bright, inspiring layout and well-chosen stock. The white shelves are neatly laid out in interesting categories, with half a wall dedicated to staff recommendations, which are frequently brilliant. It’s not a place for pulp or cut-price bestsellers – this is where to come for a carefully considered gift or to find your new favourite author.
It’s also lovely for children, who get their own ample corner, complete with colourful hand-puppets that are also offered for sale. There’s some gorgeous giftware too – if, like me, you find a good notebook hard to resist, you might leave with more wordless paperbacks than wordy ones. Staff picks that I would wholeheartedly endorse have included Rainer Maria Rilke’s ‘Letters To A Young Poet’; Haruki Murukami’s ‘What I Talk About When I Talk About Running’; and Kevin Barry’s magnificent short story collection, ‘There Are Little Kingdoms’.
There are often evening events, such as readings, book clubs, ‘book speed dating’ (attendees are matched with their ideal read!), and launches – keep an eye on the website for details. Gutter Bookshop was one of two main venues for the Dublin Book Festival this year too.
Oh, yes, and in case you missed the link, the Gutter Bookshop is so-called after the Oscar Wilde quotation that runs, ‘We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.’