There are so many variables involved in finding a place to read. Floor staff harrying you after 30 minutes won’t do, while a trip to Stephen’s Green can leave you hemmed in on a bench, elbow-to-elbow with strangers. Or soaked.
But whether you plan to surrender yourself to a good read inside or out, it goes without saying that the place is just as important as the book.
Fortunately our city’s up to task, never short of places to imbibe coffee as you thumb your way through a riveting plot. Here are some of the best spots to indulge
1. The Rathgar Bookshop
100 Rathgar Road, Rathgar Village, Dublin 6
In the 1998 movie, You’ve Got Mail, the nefarious bookstore honcho Joe Fox (Tom Hanks) declares Starbucks a cultural pantheon for listless consumers craving self-definition: Tall. Decaf. Cappuccino. A sense of purpose in a paper cup.
While Starbucks’ wifi is conducive to a good Kindle splurge, there’s so much more to be said for an independent bookstore whose on-hand staff can recommend a great title while doling coffee and cake out in the back.
This tiny café serves up a selection of teas, coffees and cakes, and on warmer days you can read outside in the store’s tranquil back garden.
2. Café Moda
192 Lower Rathmines Road, Dublin 6
This laid-back coffee house is the ideal spot to curl up with a book. The music is eclectic (devoid of top 20 detritus), while sombre lighting and an outdoor smoking area give it a cosmopolitan feel.
There’s wifi too if you plan on reading your kindle, and of course there’s always Rathmines Library across the road where a good book will set you back 50c.
3. IMMA’s 18th Century Gardens
Irish Museum of Modern Art, Royal Hospital Kilmainham, Dublin 8
At IMMA, where straight lines and courtyards unconsciously dictate footfall, it’s easy to gravitate towards the main square and cavernous downstairs café. But beyond the hospital lies a beautifully manicured 18th-Century garden replete with benches, sculpture and a panorama view of the Duke of Ormonde’s restored grounds.
4. IFI Bar and Café
6 Eustace Street, Temple Bar
An obvious location for some post-film dissection, this secluded café is an easy spot to sit back and abandon the world outside.
5. Accents Coffee and Tea Lounge
23 Stephen Street Lower, Dublin 2
This coffeehouse is open until 11pm, serving up big mugs of frothy coffee that customers can enjoy on an armchair or couch. On the ground floor to the back is a book swap – in case that coffee coincides with the last chapter in your novel – while staff are attentive but more than happy to let you drift off, feet up, in another world.
6. Oolong Flower POWER
4 Stephen Street Lower, Dublin 2
Several doors up from Accents, Oolong teahouse sells more than 300 varieties of tea as well as coffee and sandwiches.
Rows of couches run along the walls downstairs, all scattered with cushions and full of oomph for those hair-raising moments in your protagonist’s world. And buzzers across the tables allow you to call a staff member downstairs ensuring you don’t lose your train of thought (or seat for that matter).
7. The Library Bar
1 Exchequer Street, Dublin 2
Slipping into a bar to read can be daunting, especially if you’re not expecting pals. This high-ceiling pub however is the perfect place to unwind after a long day with plush chairs and an open fire that crackles all evening.
8. Palmerston Park
Palmerston Road, Rathmines, Dublin 6
If you plan on tucking into a Bronte novel, do so on the park’s Victorian benches whose legs are moulded to look like the gnarled bark of a tree. Nearby lanterns and steel arches add to the gothic atmosphere making it the ideal spot for a thriller.
9. Scully Room, Hugh Lane Gallery
Charlemont House, Parnell Square North, Dublin 1
Nestled to the back of the gallery, this custom-built extension is intended to complement Scully’s rich slabs of colour. The ceiling’s three-sided light trough illuminates the space, while the bench in the centre is a tranquil spot to watch the sun wane as you leaf through a novel.
If you start to feel thirsty, grab a coffee downstairs and then nip across to the Garden of Remembrance (opposite).
10. Rothar Café
Fade Street, Dublin 2
Small inside with cycling paraphernalia along the walls, this friendly café is the right blend of quiet but not uncomfortable. Coffee and cakes are affordable and will no doubt tide you from one chapter to the next.
11. Harbour Bar
1-4 Dock Terrace, Bray, Co. Wicklow
Yes, we’ve traversed into Wicklow but the Dart’s only five minutes away, so please forgive us.
Voted The Best Bar in The World by Lonely Planet, this seaside pub is the relaxed place to grab a pint and make headway with your book. If it’s too cold to sit outside then head into The Snug, located between the lounge and bar, and zone out to the pub’s quiet, inducing chatter.
26 Kings Inns Street, Dublin 1
Bright and spacious with long benches and the odd armchair, this inner city brunching spot has a laid-back atmosphere that’s conducive to slumping back, coffee in hand, with a good novel. The food leans toward the healthy side while a selection of teas and coffee will steel you from one chapter to another.
Ivy Exchange, Parnell Street, Dublin 1
Lastly, if it’s the book itself that eludes you, Chapters on Parnell Street has a mammoth selection of books, both new and second-hand. Armchairs are dotted across the shop and all interests, broad and niche, are catered for.