Every town has one of those book stores – you know, the one that quietly and without much fanfare, makes a special little book-shaped home in your heart. In Galway, it’s Charlie Byrne’s – an independent bookshop full of quirky nooks and crannies to hide away from the bustle outside and escape into the pages of a new (or secondhand) book. So on Saturday morning I wandered in, like a stepping into a cosy pair of literary slippers (indulge me!) when I came across ‘Story Time’. At the back of the shop in the children’s section, a small gathering of children sat happily in comfy chairs, while an animated voice filled the air with an enchanting story. The children (big and small) formed a semi-circle around the reader who had her audience enraptured by her story-telling capabilities – bringing the book to life before their eyes. It was so touching to see these young readers being introduced in such a magical way to the joys of reading and the power of imagination.
As I dragged my own inner child away to the Historical Fiction section, I could hear the young woman advising a child on which book to pick. “How about ‘James and The Giant Peach’ by Roald Dahl”, she suggested to the little girl. My heart nearly burst just thinking of the magical world that was about to open it’s cover for this new reader. And that is what is so special about independent bookshops – for them it is all about matching the reader with the right book and creating an environment of exploration, curiosity and dreaming.
For me, as an author, that is what writing is all about. The relationship between the reader and the storyteller; that unspoken accord that says, “Let’s both use our imagination and have some fun!”
Take it away Gene!