Tag Archives: books

Charlie Byrne’s Bookshop

Charlie Byrne's Bookshop

I had heard about Charlie Byrne’s for a long time but just never bothered to look for it. Until today.

I decided to go and check it out because my newly discovered book club is reading Atonement and I didn’t want to buy a new copy. I was hoping I would find a second hand one at Charlie Byrne’s.

I found a little more than I bargained for. It is a beautiful place. It is a difficult place to describe. There are times and places in which Galway seems like a throwback to the nineteenth century. Charlie Byrne’s epitomises that side of the city. It is really very quaint. A book lover’s paradise. A place that I am sure is going to drain me of the little money I have.

When you walk in, you are stunned by the old school decor and the books that are literally falling off shelves. Ireland as a whole feels cramped for space, but this little bookshop takes it to another level. There are rows and rows, tables, stacks on the floor, stacks on shelves, and even books that almost appear as though they are suspended from the ceiling.

It is very definitely what a book shop should be. Don’t get me wrong, I like the well ordered, neat, sterile, more commercial places. I spend a lot of time in Easons and Dubrays. They are great, but they don’t have the magic of an independent, small time outfit.

I can see why it is such a popular place. If you are ever in Galway city, you need to check out Charlie Byrne’s. The only issue I have with them is that the section on African books (history, literature, biographies and current affairs) is dismal and extremely disappointing. That is a real shame considering Galway’s growing African community. Hopefully they will improve in that department.

Other than that, it’s a fantastic place. And no, I’m not being paid to endorse them – but that might not be such a bad idea…

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The Dream Deferred

The Dream Deferred by Mark Gevisser 

I’ve found lately that my opinion of people changes drastically when I find out a little more about them. It happened with Nelson Mandela, Barack Obama and now, Thabo Mbeki.

 

Mark Gevisser’s The Dream Deferred is a fantastic book. It’s a pretty in depth look into Thabo Mbeki’s soul. More than just following the life of South Africa’s president, Gevisser tries to see and understand who he is as a person. Although I’ve only read a small part of the book, I am engrossed.

 

There is something about being a black man. It is as though at birth your identity is stolen and you have one of two choices, spend your life seeking it, or claim another. There is such an assault on us by the media and public perception. There’s an incredible pressure to conform to an identity created by mass media. So much so, that trying to figure out and then just being who you are will at the very least get you marked out as a non-conformist at best.

 

In reading Mandela and Obama’s autobiographies, I was stuck by the recurring theme of the search for identity. Mark Gevisser’s perception of the same struggle in Mbeki really has really impressed me. I am a little jealous of him. I would have loved to have spent that much time researching, distilling and then putting one of my fathers’ lives onto paper. It might have helped me on my pilgrimage. Maybe one day.

 

Already, I have a new found respect, as well as compassion and maybe even a little affection for President Mbeki.