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For the Love of Bookshops

Our authors share their favourite places for bookish retail therapy.

There are so many reasons to love your local bookshop. From the rich, musty smell of ink on paper to the array of patterns and colours, not to mention the allure of undiscovered stories sprinkled between well-read favourites. To celebrate Love Your Bookshop Day, we asked our authors to tell us about their favourite local bookshops.

Anna Funder

I have way too many ‘favourite’ bookshops to pick just one. I love my local, which is Gleebooks, for its huge and deep range, for its events upstairs, and for its resolutely unchanging ambience. It refuses to renovate or prettify for anyone and so it is timeless, like the best books. I love Better Read than Dead in Newtown because it’s upbeat and has great suggestions pinned on the books. I love Berkelouw’s on Oxford Street and Lesley McKay’s Bookshop in Woollahra, especially for children’s books. In Melbourne I grew up practically camped down the back of Readings in Carlton, and I love Hill of Content in the city which has a magic about it, a hush that makes my shoulders go down as soon as I step inside. In Brisbane, Riverbend Books is glorious.

Paul French

I spend most of my time in Daunt, just around the corner from my home in London on Marylebone High Street. It’s a wonderful temple (indeed it has some great old stained glass to complete the temple feel) to global literature. The downstairs is divided by country and then each country has collection of travel guides and maps as well as photography books, cookbooks, novels and history pertaining to that place. As someone constantly seeking out literature from other countries and beyond English, as well as someone who likes to read thoroughly about anywhere I’m going, Daunt is a must stop.

Peter Cochrane

My local bookshop is Gleebooks at 49 Glebe Point Road. It’s an institution; a fabulous independent bookseller that’s been there for some twenty-five years. The building is Victorian, two stories, spacious, formerly owned by the Laming family. It was acquired by David Gaunt and his partner in 1992. The books and writers program upstairs has been going since 1994, hosting all sorts of literary conversations.

Previously the building doubled as a second-hand furniture and bric-a-brac shop downstairs called The Dealatorium and upstairs, the space was Lamings Golden Gloves Boxing Gymnasium replete with a boxing ring, punching bags, sweat boxes (apparently), and a picture of the Queen on the wall. Walking past you could smell the liniment and other embrocation applied to the punished body for the relief of bruising and strains. Since that time, a quarter of a century, the building has been devoted to the promotion of literature, great writers and great books. I’m not much of a browser, but if I want to browse, that’s where I go.

Andrew Hutchinson

I don’t have a specific favourite, but I really like Readings in Carlton; the feel of it as you walk in and the huge towering walls of fiction that draw you in and remind you of why you love books so much. I also like Kinokuniya in Sydney, being able to browse through their extensive fiction collection, and The Paperback Bookshop in Melbourne, which has a great range. In Canberra, I like Paperchain in Manuka, which has captured a great bookish-feel.

Fiona McIntosh

Every bookstore is ‘my favourite’ but I’m a tad embarrassed to say that I’m hugely enamoured by a second hand bookshop with a massive antiquarian section, particularly of historical books, that is in Alnwick in England’s northeast. I wish it was my local and I can’t wait to return. This is the quirkiest roadstop in an offbeat place that no one would ever regret. You are going to find something you cannot resist. It has working fireplaces and cosy nooks with armchairs that are set up in a vast old railway station including the buffet still working and serving food and drinks. A working model railway chuffs above the browsers stepping on creaky floorboards that links all the masses of bookcases of the central station (platform). On Sunday afternoons people bring their children and their dogs to collapse in a comfy chair and just read. I think I walked around with my mouth open for a good couple of hours and I wanted so many books but couldn’t fit them into my suitcase to come home to Australia. I had to settle for a brilliant book on ‘being Victorian’ for my novel that will be released for Christmas 2019. This is a destination. If you’re heading towards Scotland by road, don’t fail to call in. It is romantic and delicious. It’s called Barter Books.

Tiffany Tsao

This is such a difficult question to answer! I’ll be indecisive and name three here in Sydney: Better Read Than Dead in Newtown, Sappho Books in Glebe, and Books Kinokuniya in the CBD.

Better Read Than Dead because they carry and recommend books that are off the beaten track. They have very good taste and such books make me extremely happy.

Sappho Books because I love second hand bookshops and they have a fantastic selection and wonderful ambience. They give me the illusion that I’m saving money, when in fact I spend twice as much in them as I would in a shop that sells new books.

Books Kinokuniya because I like how the layout is so expansive – it makes you feel as if you’re is moving through an entire world filled with nothing but books (and book-related merchandise). They also have a large children’s section with good natural light and a great view of the busy Shibuya-like intersection near Sydney’s Town Hall. As a mother trying to inculcate a love of reading in her two small children, I spend much more time among the kids’ books these days.

Stephen Giles

I have several favourite bookshops, including Dymocks in Sydney’s CBD, which I love because it’s enormous and has a staggering range of books. But my go-to bookshop is Harry Hartog in Bondi Junction – it’s beautifully designed and has a large and generous section for children’s/young adult which I really appreciate as a writer who has spent much of his career writing for kids. Discovering new writers, or old writers I’ve never read, is a joy and this has happened to me so many times browsing these shelves. The staff are helpful and the whole place is just infused with a love of reading. You can feel it. Nothing lifts my spirits like a visit to this bookstore – and I rarely leave empty handed.

Kaz Cooke

What's my favourite bookshop? What a preposterous suggestion! The nearest one! I love every bookshop I go into. I secretly especially love the bookshops who put my books in the window or on a display table. I even love the ones I've never visited like the warehouse in Delhi, India which sends me reprinted pamphlets printed from 18th and 19th century books I could never afford in proper original hardbacks.

Bernard Schaffer

I'm fortunate to live in the immediate vicinity of dozens of quality bookstores. From big chains to independent shops, the Philadelphia area is a book-lovers paradise.

The big chain stores have the benefit of carrying magazines and a wide variety of books. You can go there and have a coffee and let the kids run around the children's section. The independent stores near me are curated by the most learned, interested, devoted readers in the world. I love visiting each of them.

To find your local bookshop, click here.

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