The Chi at Charlie Byrne’s

For as long as I can remember (at least eight years), Charlie Byrne’s Bookshop has wrapped around another small shop in the Cornstore. You could enter the bookshop from the street, browse the displays in the main room, skirt along the edge of the shelves into fiction, step down into the history/art history/travel room, backtrack through fiction to classics and literary criticism, take a quick glance around health/psychology, move into Irish Interest, and giggle at the children’s books on your way out the back door.

The bookstore recently expanded into the space formerly occupied by the smaller shop. There is now an entire room of Irish interest, with its own entrance, located between the history/art history/travel room and the kids’ section. Book-browsing in Galway has a much more circular flow these days.

Oh, and they’re having a sale all weekend to celebrate.






A Bookstore in a Library


Yesterday was my last day volunteering at Second-Hand Prose, the used bookstore inside the Georgetown Public Library. SHP is the cornerstone fundraiser run by the Friends of the Library, who also led the bookmobile campaign and host the Hill Country Author Series.

I have been volunteering once a month for the past 18 months, at first filling in whenever I could as a substitute, then finally landing a regular 10am to 1pm shift every fourth Saturday. Georgetown is home to a Sun City retirement community, which makes volunteering a competitive sport. Not a bad problem to have, if you ask me.

It seems counterintuitive, selling used books inside a library, but the store turns a healthy profit. Since the library provides the space rent-free, the store is staffed entirely by volunteers, and all of the stock is donated by the community, there is absolutely no overhead. The money gets donated back to the library, and it is one of the best libraries out there.


Volunteering at Second-Hand Prose can be dangerous, as the books are ridiculously cheap and there is plenty of time to peruse the shelves. I still regret the book I let slip through my fingers; a Texas Monthly Press edition of Bud Shrake’s Strange Peaches. It sat in the Collector’s Corner for months as I waited for the price to go down so I could pay for it with my $5 Book Bucks; then one day, it was gone.

Not too long ago, I hit my quota for volunteer hours, which meant a bookplate in a library book dedicated to me. The book was a work of juvenile fiction called Kitten’s Winter by Eugenie Fernandes. I brought it into the library’s coffee shop one day to read with my Literary Latte, and I found the story delightful.