Dublin books

Today, at the very end of my stay in Dublin, I decided to honor the long and illustrious literary history of that great city by doing a mini-tour of its bookstores. Not surprisingly, there are quite a few options for the avid bibliophile, from purveyors of rare and used books to Hodges figgis, just across the street from Trinity College, where it seems you can purchase just about any volume in print.

You see, I’ve always loved books. There is something about the physical book that sets it apart from any electronic equivalent. Yes I know the book is impractical, compared with its more modern competitors. It’s heavy and wasteful of resources, it takes up far too much space, and you can’t take your library with you when you travel.

But ah, the sensory experience! The feeling of opening the cover, riffling through the pages, the heft of a book in your hands, the wondrous physicality of black ink on textured paper, the very smell of it. All of these things contribute to a powerful sense of connection.

Some might say that there’s nothing even remotely rational about this view of books. After all, the act of reading is, by its very nature, a renunciation of the physical world in favor of a symbolic realm of pure information. Yet there it is.

But what to buy? Some neglected work by a great Irish poet? A play by Shaw perhaps? Maybe something written in Irish Gaelic, just for the sheer beauty of the words on paper, even though I wouldn’t begin to know how to read it.

In the end I chose a collection of short stories by Philip K. Dick. Yes, I know, it’s not Beckett. But I think it still counts. 🙂


† Not surprisingly, PKD has cited Beckett as an influence. (see The Selected Letters of Philip K. Dick 1938-1971. Grass Valley: Underwood Books, 1996, p 56).

3 thoughts on “Dublin books”

  1. Give it two generations after mine, and none but the most eccentric young people will relate to you here. 🙂

  2. Yeah, I know, Grandpa’s at it again, going on about his old Stanley Steamer.

    And I would have gotten away with it too, if it weren’t for you meddling kids!

    † Archaic cultural reference

  3. Books… those are the things people used to check their email with, or something—right? 😛

    Actually though, I’m pretty torn between paper and electronic reading at the moment. I mostly read paper at home, but I’m out a lot and typically have a different set of things to read on my phone.

    Probably the biggest thing I miss when reading electronically is the sense of position you get in physical books: it’s a small thing, but it does seem to give a little structure for organizing information, so that going without feels a little ‘floaty’—maybe just because I learned to read on paper, though.

    On the side of electronic reading: I think there’s a lot of room for interesting augmentation here. Amazon’s ‘Word Wise’ feature is an example: http://blog.the-ebook-reader.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Kindle-Word-Wise.jpg

    You can also very easily bring in Wikipedia or more full dictionary info. by tapping on words. This kind of inline, minimally interrupting augmentation seems to have a lot of potential…

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