A city drenched in literary greatness, Dublin welcomes book lovers with open arms. Along the city’s winding streets, there are museums to explore, pubs to visit, and bookstores to discover.
Bookstores in Dublin have a unique quality about themselves. They carry with elan the tradition of encouraging reading and writing while fiercely displaying their love for local literature.
Among the many bookish escapes of Dublin is “Ireland’s oldest bookshop,” Hodges Figgis, a 1768 establishment mentioned in James Joyce’s Ulysses. Then there is Chapters, “Ireland’s largest independent bookstore,” known for its second-hand collection and cinema book club. To truly explore the city’s book culture, one must also visit the following dreamy bookstores in Dublin that will transport you to bookish heaven, guaranteed.
Nonfiction, psychology, humor, graphic novels, Irish history, spirituality, music, film, food, and horror are but a few of the genres you will find among haphazard rows and piles of books in this Dublin hidden gem. Look out for the small advertising board when walking along the street, for there is no other sign that tells you of The Secret Book and Record Store’s location. Much-loved by the local crowd, this Dublin bookstore also stocks a somewhat eccentric collection of new and old vinyl and CDs. Knick-knacks from around the world occupying space on the shelves give the bookstore a quirky and vintage look, something that ardent bibliophiles will particularly appreciate. Best of all, most of their books are bargain buys and won't put too big a dent in your wallet.
Boasting an attractive Georgian blue façade, Books Upstairs is “Dublin’s oldest independent bookshop.” Started in 1978, it remains one of the most charming ones that stocks a curated collection featuring primarily Irish literature and poetry. Book lovers wanting to discover the local literary scene will find the shelves of Books Upstairs quite satisfying. Others can take a risk and order one of their popular themed book bundles. The first floor of this Dublin bookstore houses a cute café, perfect for a chat with fellow bibliophiles over copious cups of coffee.
Operated by Irish Library Supplies, Alan Hanna’s Bookshop is a lovely Dublin bookstore overflowing with a diverse set of novels. Besides carrying an extensive collection of Irish history books, there are academic, travel, art, and latest releases, both second-hand and new. Visiting Alan Hanna’s comes with many benefits, and the opportunity to grab a snack at Bark Coffee is one of them. Located at the back of the bookstore, visitors can grab a drink and a sandwich, sit, and flip through a read or two before heading out front to continue browsing. The coffeeshop carries forward the bookish theme with blown-up Penguin covers adorning the walls. The bookshop space is also used occasionally for musical and author events.
Through The Company of Books, owner Gwen Allman has created a beautiful spot in Dublin for book lovers of all interests to converge and lose themselves in the magic of reading. Owing to the relatively small space, Allman pays special attention to curating her collection and is quick to include personal recommendations and local interests. Whether it is Valarie Cox’s Growing Up With Ireland, a book titled Poems That Make Grown Men Cry, or Philip Marsden’s The Summer Isles, you’ll find them all amongst the 2500 plus multi-genre titles that fill up this much-adored Dublin bookstore.
Bookstores in Dublin don’t get any better than The Winding Stair, a legendary institution in the city’s literary scene. Taking its name from WB Yeats’ poem, The Winding Stair has been a favorite destination for writers and book lovers through the decades. Fearing closure, Elaine Murphy bought the shop in 2006 and started a restaurant on its first floor, while keeping the bookshop intact. Adding to the allure of The Winding Stair is its location alongside the River Liffey. The shop now sells an ever-changing collection of new books with an assortment of second-hand titles available in a small backroom. A must-visit destination in Dublin, The Winding Stair is an ideal stop for book-loving gourmands.