File photo: Barker and Jones in Naas
I love books. I love the feel of a book in my hands, I love the way the pages fan out as you flick through from cover to cover.
I love the smell of a freshly printed book as much as the frayed edges of a second hand copy, which has been devoured countless times. Have I used the word ‘love’ too much? Humour me, I’m a bookworm.
Kildare has its fair share of independent bookstores, although it’s accurate to say that number has been declining.
As Christmas approaches, it’s tempting to go down the online route — however, nothing compares to the bookshop experience. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve often bought editions online because they may have offered better value, or simply due to time constraints. I also have an e-reader, which I don’t use very much. It comes in handy if you are traveling but for me, it just can’t rival the experience of reading an actual book.
I don’t know why, but I find the lure of the bookshop enthralling.
Being surrounded by shelves of the written word enshrined in hardback and paperback is relaxing. The atmosphere of a bustling book store is thrilling. Barker and Jones in Naas, Farrell and Nephew in Newbridge, Woodbine in Kilcullen and the Blessington bookstore are definitely worth a visit. They have a huge range of books for every age and also support local and upcoming authors.
Malones in Kildare town and Kelly’s Newsagents in Monasterevin also have book sections.
Looking back, I was sucked into the exciting world of the Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, the Famous Five, and the Secret Seven in the cosy, chock full Frantom’s second hand bookshop on the back street in Newbridge.
My father used to bring myself and my brother and sisters to this wonderous place once a week when we were kids. It was probably quite small, but to us, it seemed huge, with shelves crammed from floor to ceiling of every genre of fiction and fact.
Off we went, with our bag of books from the previous week. The owner totted up their value and we dashed to our own little corners to find the latest treasures to bring home.
We would spend ages in there, sometimes unable to reach a decision until the very end. It was here that my weird interest in submarines began. Every Alistair MacLean book, especially ones with a maritime theme were snapped up. ‘Ice Station Zebra’ was a particular favourite. Ultimately this led on to ‘The Hunt for Red October’ by Tom Clancy. Anything with a submarine in it was a major attraction. I went through various obsessions with a particular series, or authors. Sadly that bookshop closed some time ago.
When I wasn’t playing outside, my head was stuck in a book. Often I couldn’t put it down. When it came to bedtime, I would sneak out into the hall so as not to disturb my sisters. Sitting on the cold carpet, I would read late into the night.
When it comes to Christmas presents, I will always veer towards a book for a child. I love writing a little message inside the front cover for them. When all the plastic toys, gismos and gadgets are broken, the books will still be there, full of adventure and wonder. These independent book stores offer children a different way of looking at the world and should be supported.
Let’s enjoy the thrill of Kildare’s independent bookstores and help children experience the magic of reading.