When I was a kid my Dad would often bring me with him when going to The Book Centre bookshop on Wexford’s Main Street. For a period of time I was fixated with a particular collection of classic children’s books published by Parragon Classics that were £1.99 each. I’m not sure why this was so but I do remember liking their glossy covers and having an obsession with Heidi. I would sit in my bed at night reading this particular book, imagining what it would be like to live in the Alps, to drink goat’s milk and to look out an attic room window at the mountains like Heidi did on the cover. Maybe it was her fault I got hooked. Perhaps I hoped that the enjoyment I got from that story could be found in the ones that followed – Peter Pan, A Little Princess, What Katy Did, What Katy Did Next… To be honest I think that’s the simple truth. I associated Heidi with many positive things and believed the other stories would follow suit and that they did until one Friday evening when I went to my usual spot at the bottom of the bookshop’s stairs and my coveted Parragon Classic books were gone.
This story has a happy ending though and it took place in another Book Centre in Waterford City. My brothers and I used to empty our money boxes around Christmas time when we were young and set off to Waterford with Mam and Dad for some Christmas shopping. There I found the biggest bookshop my seven year old self had ever seen and in it my treasured Parragon Classics sitting tidily on one of it’s many shelves as well.
All this came back to me recently as I walked through the Book Centre’s doors during a visit to Waterford. I was glad to find it still busy and thriving.
One of the advantages it has over other bookshops is it’s memorable design. The entrance is lined with magazines and newspapers on one side and a long counter on the other. This leads into a large atrium where there are three floors connected by a spiral staircase.
On the ground floor you can find the fiction and non-fiction sections all neatly displayed on shelves that form a circle. In the middle there are chairs and tables at which people were sitting browsing the latest releases or having a quiet chat over a cup of coffee (there’s a café on one of the floors). There is also pleasant soft lighting which adds to that feeling of being cocooned from the bustling crowds on the main square outside.
On the next floor there were biography and history sections, all tucked away tidily in little nooks and crannies and above that on the top floor there was a busy school books section.
As a place to book browse, I highly recommend it. There was a great variety of titles and good value to be found. I saw a sign for a €5 book offer which I later found out the shop runs regularly. There was a well stocked stationary section with all the usual pretty notebooks and quotation magnets too. But it’s main attraction for me is definitely it’s design. It’s a comfortable and cosy space to spend some time if you grow weary of crowds or are looking for shelter from the soon to be wet, dull winter afternoons. In fact I think it’s appeal might by the latter!
All their stores are individually designed and all have a cosy café, so if you find yourself in Waterford, Wexford, Kilkenny or Naas, it would be worth dropping in for a cuppa and a browse. Check out their web site and facebook page on the below links: