Next up on the independent bookshop feature, music and film journalist Nick Dunn (@laidbackinsong on Twitter) explains why Troutmark Books in Cardiff is worth a visit. I love Cardiff so I'll definitely be stopping by Troutmark!
As far back as I can remember, reading has provided a safe haven. I can remember sitting down by the book-box at nursery, a little island in the stormy sea of childhood chaos around me, and picking out books at random. So it is with bookshops.
It’s certainly true of Troutmark, a second-hand bookshop here in Cardiff. Located in the Castle Arcade, it’s a quit oasis in what is normally a bustling city centre. Situated across three floors, its shelves tower over customers. As you progress from the front door, it feels as if it has been grown organically from nooks and crannies. Books fill every shelf: some are even stacked on top of smaller shelving units on the floor. Above all else, it’s quiet. Even with other customers, the shelves seem to absorb all sound, and with no easy view of the daylight outside the arcade, it’s quite easy to pass several blissful hours in an interesting tome. It’s an ideal bookshop, in other words.
The ground floor is for general and children’s literature, as well as some poetry, but most excitingly, there are historical (and if you’re lucky, first!) editions of books like Wisden Cricketer’s Almanack or those by writers like Charles Dickens or Dylan Thomas. These are situated behind the counter, giving them a faintly exciting air of elusiveness. Downstairs, in the windowless basement are most of the non-fiction books on various subjects, while up the suitably creaky stairs are sections reserved for music, sport, comics, and my personal favourites: the sci-fi/fantasy shelves. My own collection of Terry Pratchett books has been largely filled from those donated to Troutmark – buying clean and brand-new copies of Discworld books seems somehow wrong. But it was also here that I discovered the Broken Earth trilogy by N. K. Jemisin and the Kill Shakespeare comics by Anthony Del Col and Conor McCreery hidden away in the stacks.
The staff are also incredibly friendly, happy to discuss your purchases or, as once happened to me, lock you in momentarily if you happen to be quietly engrossed in your reading when they want to make a cup of tea.
Sadly, the Covid-19 lockdown has reduced the opening hours and number of customers allowed in at a given time. You can help support them when the Arcade reopens by visiting responsibly, wearing a mask on the premises, and using hand sanitiser. If you’ve powered through your reading list during lockdown, consider selling those books you can bear to part with to Troutmark. Their contact details are listed below.
39-43 Castle Arcade
029 2038 2814