Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) was an English writer and philosopher. He is best known for his dystopian novel Brave New World and his mescaline-fuelled philosophical essay The Doors of Perception, which among other things inspired the equally drug-fuelled band The Doors.
Other novels of his have such fabulous names as Those Barren Leaves, Eyeless in Gaza and Antic Hay. I have read a few of them, and they generally seem to feature young British expats around the Mediterranean afflicted with boredom and malaise… capturing the spirit of the interwar years in Europe. Good to read by the pool or on the sun-soaked terrace of a Tuscan country villa.
No.3 – Chapters on Parnell Street. A goldmine for hardcover books, and Ireland’s largest independent bookstore.
I used to think of Chapters as a sort of bargain bookstore. The prices are shown on the front of the books with large, red-and-white stickers, and often they are “special prices” and actual bargains. This makes a big difference on hardcover books. I have no great ambition to own my fiction in hardcover, in fact, I prefer paperbacks, as they are lightweight and fit better into my handbags. But food and cookery books often come only in hardcover, and Chapters was instrumental in helping me build up my collection of recipe and reference books on food and wine. For the same reason, anybody interested in coffee table books on Art and Architecture should not miss visiting this store. Continue reading →
No.2 – Hodges Figgis. The name sounds like a Dickens character, the shopfront looks exactly how you would picture Dublin’s oldest bookstore. Huge windows full of books curve towards the door like a bell jar. Their frames and the door are dark green, like the leather inserts on a library table.
But the shop is not resting on its long and illustrious pedigree (which includes being mentioned in Ulysses, no less). From humanities, business and sciences on the top floor to the sweeping selection of classic and modern literature, Hodges Figgis is eminently knowledgeable without being snobbish. Continue reading →
No.1 – The Secret Book and Record Store. A bookworms’ lair unfazed by fashions.
The Secret Book and Record Store is not all that secretly located in the city centre of Dublin. Around the corner from busy Grafton Street, amidst cafés and shops, a large yellow sign adorns the entrance. The corridor burrows away into the old building. At the end of it, boxes and tables and shelves full of books fill a low room almost to the ceiling.
No.6 – Goldhahn & Sampson in Prenzlauer Berg. The cook book lover’s treasure chest.
Goldhahn & Sampson caters for the mind as well as the palate. They sell food, wine and delicatessen – local specialities from around Berlin and elsewhere. A contradiction? Not at all: speciality food is generally rooted in a certain locality. That’s what makes it special and different from the foods from other localities, and of course from the mass-produced products that have the same taste (or lack thereof) everywhere. Continue reading →
No. 5 – Hundt Hammer Stein in Mitte. Style and substance are no contradiction for this basement bookshop.
The area around U-Bahn station Weinmeisterstraße is a hub for stylish young Berlin. The shops sell contemporary urban fashion for art and architecture aficionados – COS, Skunk Funk, Urban Outfitters, & Other Stories – and during Berlin Fashion Week, the footpaths are a gauntlet of prosecco tables. Around the corner in Alte Schönhauser Straße, between Australian ice cream, Japanese sneakers and Italian espresso machines, the Hundt Hammer Stein bookshop takes up a basement unit. Continue reading →
No. 4 – Curious Fox New and Used English Books in Neukölln. Excellent selection of Irish writers, lovely spot for a cup of tea.
The Curious Fox has its burrow on Flughafenstraße, where the hill dips down again from the Flughafen Tempelhof heights towards the shopping district around Rathaus Neukölln.
It is a cosy shop with a red sofa by the entrance and a couple of easy chairs in the back room – you can also get tea or coffee at the counter. Locals drop in for a chat as much as to browse the collection. Continue reading →