The other evening, I found myself right smack bang in the middle of the city with 3 hours to kill.
It was 4:30pm, I had just finished a meeting and I was going to have dinner with some girlfriends, nearby at 7:30pm.
OMG what am I going to do with 3 whole hours?! It was such a rare and extraordinary moment that I had no idea what to do with myself!
I decided to pop into Northbridge, to visit a friend who owns a café and another friend who owns a fashion boutique. I thought I would do a bit of shopping and wander around to discover some new shops in the area. Who knows what treasures I would find?
But I didn’t make it to the fashion stores.
I wandered into a book store, planning to have a quick look… and I didn’t leave until the very last minute!
Oh my I was in literary heaven. I haven’t stepped into an independent specialty bookstore in YEARS! There was such a diverse range of classics, modern literature, art, design, architecture, cooking, history, children’s books, cards and more. It was such a great little bookstore, tantalising with the promise of treasure that I was craving for.
I have a mental list of “Books I Want Read” in my brain which went into overdrive. So many books I need to buy! I was quivering with excitement! Where do I start?!
The guy who owns the bookstore (James) was exceedingly helpful. He was friendly and charming, full of excellent suggestions, and not judgemental at all haha! He was such a quirky, book nerd (sorry James!) but exactly the kind of person for a bit of fun, bookish chat… especially if you’re like me, a closet book nerd.
I have found my next book, The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton. Winner of the 2013 Man Booker Prize. Can’t wait to start!
In 2000, I used to work in the city, near a speciality bookstore. Every couple of weeks I would pop in and say “Please sell me some great literature!” The store owner would pass something to me (any age, any size, any genre), and I would devour it gleefully. Looks like I will be restarting this old habit again. I haven’t been *this* thrilled to read literature in years.
Back then I made a little goal – to read one Man Booker Literary Prize Winner every year. I think I only have read 3. Oh the disappointment. What have I been doing all those years? I have lots of catching up to do. It kind of made me regret reading the whole Twilight series. *Face palm*
I also did something else.
I asked if he could recommend a book for my 11 year old son, something that will hopefully inspire him to read more literature.
You see, my son reads a lot. He’s read all the popular novels and book series aimed at young boys, like Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Percy Jackson, Heroes of Olympus, Eragon, Hunger Games, Ranger’s Apprentice, Orson Scott Card, Assassin’s Creed, Matthew Riley, Dan Brown… and many, many more. So much so, he’s moving away from young boy fiction and headed towards adult action/thriller/military/mystery fiction?! The kid is unstoppable. He’ll read anything “interesting”. Which is why I want to throw some literary classics at him.
Yeah ok, I’m half boasting, but I’m also utterly terrified about all this. In the beginning, I tried to censor the books he read, but I couldn’t keep up with him! I take 3 weeks to get though a book and he takes 3 days. Puts me to shame.
So while James the bookstore owner was recommending me some books… two other very well-read gentlemen in the store (who were just random customers) overheard me and started to drop some suggestions into our conversation too.
Frankenstein, Lord of the Flies, Catcher in the Rye, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Of Mice and Men, Jasper Jones, Cloud Street, Animal Farm, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Great Gatsby, Huckleberry Finn, Treasure Island…
Soon the 4 of us – an unlikely combination of complete strangers 1) book nerd bookshop owner 2) mature gentleman 3) young hipster dude 4) Asian fashion blogger/mother – were standing around talking about all the classic books of the past that we’ve read as young folk. And throwing around our 2-5 word verdict on whether the book would suit my son! Too dark. Too slow moving. Not enough action. Language isn’t modern enough. More of a romance. Bit too sad.
It was such a refreshing, weirdly enjoyable and totally unexpected experience for me. Haha who would have thought I would spend my free 3 hours doing this??
I settled on Animal Farm by George Orwell (which I read when I was 13?), Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson (adventure/action), Of Mice and Men (which I’ve always wanted to read), and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep By Philip K. Dick (again, I’ve always wanted to read this book, and I’m not sure if I bought this book for myself or my son!).
Anyway, James doesn’t know I’m writing about his bookstore on my blog. I thought I’d surprise him. It’s a ridiculously hard time for bookstore owners!
I kinda feel bad for all the times I bought my books online for $5 less. Or even drove all the way to Kmart to buy it for $2 less. I love love LOVE the old fashion feel of holding a book in my hand, I adored my trips to hip, indie bookstores in the past – so here’s my support to them!
The name of the bookstore is Northside Books, Northbridge.
They even have a little café inside (with snacks!), places where you can sit inside the bookstore and café tables to sit on the footpath outside.
It’s on 212 William Street, Northbridge, almost on the corner of James Street, opposite the famous Brass Monkey Hotel.
So if you happen to be a closet book nerd (like me) and if you happen to be passing by, do pop in and say hi!
(And check out a couple of Charles Dickens books on his sale racks for $5!)
Or pop into their Northside Books Facebook page!