As I browsed through the carefully curated shelves of The Avid Reader in Brisbane’s West End, I was reminded of what was so special about the local bookshop. Hailing from the Top End of Australia, I had been eyeing off this particular literary treasure trove online for some time. The Bookstore Darwin has a great range, but, like art galleries, book shops are always nice to visit when travelling. So during a brief stay in Brisbane, a visit to the city’s bohemian quarter for a good dose of literature was in order.
With my four year old daughter in tow, we hit Where the Wild Things Are first, a children’s bookstore run by the owners of Avid Reader. After a quick look on the well-stacked bookshelves, Amelie spotted a familiar cover: Herve Tullet’s glorious finger-painting extravaganza, Mix it Up. Amelie had previously borrowed it from the library and delighted in the colourful painting adventure. Then it was my turn to take home an adventure, albeit more of a slow-burning one that would command my attention. My hopes to daydream my way leisurely through the store, procrastinating on which book to choose were somewhat dashed by my four-year old’s attention span.
Fortunately, owner Fiona Stager had done the job for me, narrowing down her best reads of 2016. Fiona knows her books, having only ever worked as a book seller besides a brief stint as a waitress. Her extensive knowledge of what she sells makes her somewhat of a sommelier of literature, a curator of culture.
Fiona had many recommendations, ranging from Bruce Pascoe’s Dark Emu to Zadie Smith’s Swing Time and The Woman on the Stairs by Bernhard Schlink. Having read the beautiful words of Hannah Kent in her debut novel Burial Rites, I settled on her new book, The Good People, knowing I just couldn’t go wrong.
While the trip to Avid Reader was cut a little short by the nature of travelling with a little person, it was definitely a soul-enriching experience. It’s important to support our local bookshops and the people who invest in our culture and support a form of artistic expression that resembles, contrasts and examines the intricacies of life and society. They have stuck by traditional books in the ever changing digital world, providing this country with a rich, velvety underbelly of literary tradition.
When you’re next travelling, why not spend a morning exploring a local bookshop, breathing in the pages, savouring wild and wonderful storylines and choosing the next adventure that will keep your midnight oil burning.
This is a guest post written by Michelle Coleman. Michelle has a background in news journalism with a keen interest in all things literary. She spends most of her spare time reading fiction and writing poetry, children’s stories and her first novel. Michelle‘s work has been published in Mamamia, Resident Magazine, Darwin Life and Visible Ink Anthology. She is the Secretary of the Northern Territory Writers’ Centre and was awarded the Daily Miracle Bursary for Journalism from the University of Queensland.