Bob Johnston

Posted by Sue Leonard on Tuesday 25th October 2022

A lifelong reader Bob almost ‘lived’ in the library.

“From 12 I read anything, from Stephen King and James Herbert, to my Mum’s Jilly Cooper. And I worked in the local bookshop at 17.”

Bob’s plan was to get into advertising, but, rejected by some big London companies, he took a job at a bookshop in Stoke on Trent.

“And it rolled from there.”

Over the next few years, he worked in Dillons in Reading University, Waterstones in London and Dublin, Blackwell’s in Oxford, and finally Hughes and Hughes in Dublin. Then, in October 2009, he left Hughes and Hughes to set up the Gutter Bookshop in Temple Bar, (and now also in Dalkey.)

            “I had been looking for a premises for ages, but during the boom the rents were sky high. When the recession hit, rents dropped and lots of properties came on the market.”

Who is Bob Johnston?

Date of birth:  1972 in Brighton. “We moved North of London 18 months later.”

Education: Sandye Place in Bedfordshire; University of Staffordshire, English Literature.

Home: Malahide.

Family: Husband Leon, Jessie the dog, and Molly the cat.

The Day Job: Owning and Running The Gutter Bookshop.

In Another Life: “My dad was into sailing, and when I was 20, I crewed for him in a yacht off the British Virgin Islands. I thought of staying on, trying to scrape a living, but I chickened out. A bit of me wishes I had stayed.”

Favourite Writers: Anne Tyler; David Mitchell; PD James; Colm Tóibín; Hana Yanagihara; Sarah Winman. 

Second Novel: “There’s nothing commissioned, but I have a children’s novel, another picture book and the bones of an adult novel.”

Top Tip: Challenge yourself even if it feels uncomfortable, and if think not good at it, give it your best shot.

Website:     Twitter: @gutterbookshop.

The Debut: Our Big Day. (Illustrated by Michael Emberley.) The O’Brien Press: €13.00.

The young narrator loves visiting her uncles, David and Simon. With the marriage referendum passed, they are getting married! She helps them prepare, and, along with their dog, Bear, is entrusted with the rings. What can possibly go wrong?

The Verdict: A gorgeously illustrated book about love, equality, and a very large dog. “I really like this book,”  said Emilia Syme, aged 5.  

Published in the Irish Examiner on 21st May.

© Sue J Leonard. 2022.

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