In the depths of winter, when icicles form on the window ledge and the bank of the river crisps with ground frost; what better way to allay the onset of hypothermia, than to head off to Rome for a mini-break?
Nothing says getting over winter blues like a big plate of piping hot pasta carbonara and a good book (I know, I know… we at Books@One have the life of riley!). For this delightful escape we have chosen one of our favourite cities.
Viva Italia and Ciao Roma!
That is about the extent of our mastery of the Italian language but still, what better way to spend a few days than wandering around the idyllic streets of its infamous capital city.
BUT WAIT…a bookshop…and an English bookshop.
It is impossible to pass this shop by, especially since we are always looking for fodder for our Book Tour of the World Series.
Tucked away on a little street, Via del Moro, is the Almost Corner Bookshop, run by Carlow native Dermot O’Connell.
Dermot welcomed us to the shop and gave us the grand tour. He acquired the bookstore from its Australian owner in 2001. In his own words, the decision to take over the bookshop was made after three days of partying with its previous owner. Dermot admits to agonising over the decision but not wanting to regret a missed opportunity, took on the shop. All best life decisions are made in the throes of a three day party it seems.
Dermot, in a previous life, was a secondary school teacher, with experience of working at WHSmith in Birmingham. He is an avid reader and has the added bonus of being able to speak Italian.
The bookstore stocks all books in English, the main connection being books in English referencing Rome and Italy.
When asked about the trends in book selling, Dermot references 2008, the beginnings of the recession. He noticed a steep drop in sales but now there is a noticeable improvement, an improvement in book buyers and by default in the numbers of travellers to the capital city.
What binds all book lovers together, the world over, is a love of good quality writing. His store sells the most copies of the brilliant Time In Rome by Elizabeth Bowen.
When I asked Dermot how to encourage people, in particular, young people to get into reading, he highlights the addiction of hand held devices. He also voices concerns that young people are unable to decipher continuous narrative, i.e. most text in novels and books the world over. The age of hand held devices seems to be impacting upon the appreciation of story.
Though you could not tell that from the amount of books purchased and enjoyed from the Almost Corner Bookshop. In his store John Banville’s Mrs. Osmond is extremely popular (it’s our book of the month at Books@one). So it seems that good taste really is global.
The Almost Corner Bookshop in Bella Roma...well worth the wait.
Now back to my Tiramisu.