Aoife Roantree is Chair of Bookselling Ireland and manager of Dubray Liffey Valley. She has worked in eight bookshops in the last twelve years, including five out of eleven Dubrays.
For Irish Book Week she talks all things bookish for Burning Books…on Paper, the sister series to our popular podcast
Turn down the page, or book mark?
Mostly I just remember my page (a system which has its flaws…), sometimes I use a bookmark or other handy scrap, and the only time I dog-ear the page is when I loved something on that page so much that I know I’ll want to find it again without re-reading the full book. So it’s a great sign if I’ve done that!
Writing in the margins, or sacred pages?
I don’t usually write in a book, only if it’s a non-fiction work I’m reading and perhaps trying to learn something from (and if I think the book is amazing and I’ll definitely keep it and refer to it in the future) – then I might underline things, make notes, etc.
Do you keep all of your books, or do you have a regular cull?
I used to keep most, albeit with a regular cull to clear out anything I was ambivalent about. However, the collection is now out of control, so I’ve recently decided to only keep those I absolutely love and would definitely want to read again, and my various collections – vintage crime, mythology and folklore, picture books.
Digital or physical copy?
I do get some advance proofs as digital copies, but I far prefer to read a physical book. There’s just no comparison in the reading experience. Also my attention can wander, and it’s easier to flick back a few pages or chapters to remind yourself of something with a physical book!
Do you finish every book you start?
Absolutely not. Life is too short and there are too many great books out there!
Are you one book at a time, or a polyamorous reader?
That’s an interesting way of describing it… I definitely read more than one book at a time. Sometimes there are books I’m feeling lukewarm about that I put down temporarily – as time goes on, that can easily become a permanent pause if other more interesting books come along (they usually do!).
I always have at least one audiobook on the go (for while I’m driving, cooking, etc). I’ve just counted and at the moment, only counting genuine current in-progress reads, I’m in the middle of four books.
A book that gives you solace
There are so many types of solace I get from books – from pure escapism and distraction (solace from the pace of the world) to perfectly described moments and lives, to comfort in reading about experiences similar to mine (better writers than I describing their experience and their emotions helps me to better describe mine).
A book you associate with a particular life event
There are so many Irish books that I loved as a child: the De Danann series by Michael Scott; the Run With the Wind series by Tom McCaughren; Michael Mullen’s historical novels. Nora Ephron was right: books you read as a child really do sink in deeper than anything else you read in your life.
A book you are reading now
It’s Irish Book Week so I’m getting stuck into Irish Myths and Legends by Lady Gregory. I bought the stunning new New Island edition when it was published earlier in the year, and this seems like a good time to immerse myself.
A book you’d leave in there to burn
I read The Catcher in the Rye when I was quite young, probably 12 or 13. I couldn’t stand it, I thought Holden Caulfield was absolutely insufferable. I’m sure it’s just that I was too young and it’s actually a masterpiece. Maybe. I might go back to it someday, though as I said: so many books, so little time…