When we started planning Our City Our Books, some time ago, the world looked very different to now.
When we started planning Our City Our Books, some time ago, the world looked very different to now. Although we were asking your help to build a virtual bookshelf for Dublin, co-created by all the people who call this city home, face to face conversations would form a big part of the project. We would continue to be out and about meeting you, your book clubs, meeting librarians and booksellers - you would be feeding the project.
We are now living in an altered reality where books and people are more important than ever. I must admit, I felt a slight, no a big, sense of panic when I heard that the libraries were closing. I thought of making a last minute panic dash to stock up but didn’t make it. I did make it around to some of my favourite bookshops to stock up. I felt sad when one by one book shops began to close but was reassured that they were now selling online. Even this is changing day by day and I'm struck by how lonely this makes me feel. Perhaps selfishly, the thought of all those wonderful booksellers working away behind the scenes packing and posting books gave me a sense of calm and security.
Why the panic and the sense of loss? Like most readers I have a guilt ridden, ever growing, 'to be read pile' in many corners of my home so it was highly unlikely that I would run out of reading material anytime soon. What I have realised is that it is the complete ritual around obtaining a new book that matters. From entering the library or bookshop to walking out the door, book in hand. It’s the look, the feel and the smell of the paper, the conversations and the recommendations, the chats with booksellers and librarians and sometimes bystanders butting in on the conversation. It’s going to your favourite coffee shop afterwards, opening it up reading the first few lines and perhaps having a conversation with the barista about it. You don’t go to coffee shops just for the coffee either - but that’s a whole other piece!
We had planned on sending you to your local library and the many wonderful book shops all over the city to get your hands on our readers’ recommendations and share your own favourite books with us too. Our libraries and bookshops have made it possible to go online so we won’t be short of a read but what we will miss is the human interaction with the rest of the book community and we hope it’s not too long before we can all meet up and chat again. Meanwhile, tell us about your favourite book related experiences and rituals.
I look forward to hearing more about your favourite books and recommendations over the coming months.
Our City Our Books Project Manager
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