Readings, Readings; Carlton, VIC
As a child, I was always inspired by the effect of being in a library. Surrounded by books stacked metres high. Knowledge. I could spend hours, just absorbed, going from book to book.
Readings, Carlton gives you that feeling. Bookshelves lined to the ceilings. Popular books, literary works, hardcover titles on art, design, textbooks, travel books that transport you to other worlds, children’s books of high fantasy, religion, history, the highlights of civilisation, knowledge, learning. Every category that one would find in a library. The books themselves are well picked; classic graphic novels sit amongst Nebula and Hugo award winners, Pulitzer and Booker prize winners, topical and controversial books, classics, obscure but important treatises on various subjects. This is not your average bookshop, supplying what an imagined denominator would want to read. No, this is a place devoted to the love of words, pictures, human experience.
This is a bookshop that typifies Melbourne- the quirky, the amusing, the classic. There is culture- movies in the form of DVDs, CDs of music, magazines from a variety of subcultures and subjects; there is the fine touch of small gifts such as small books with jokes, observations, photos, elegant handcrafted postcards, knick-knacks for a loved one’s desk. This is quality with an amazing breadth; while there is quantity it is not the all-encompassing quantity of Borders that includes the banal and tawdry. You get the sense that it has all been hand picked.
There are nooks and crannies to sit in and enjoy a read. Leather lined seating by the window, even an adorable chair and table in the excellent children’s section. The genres are paid good attention as well as the mainstream fiction. The non-fiction has, once again, depth as well as breadth- the psychology section covers guides for the casual reader all the way to the DSM IV case book.
More than anything, Readings is a bookshop that housed part of my mind and being and soul while I was a poor student at the University of Melbourne. The staff are helpful, welcoming, warm. They will talk to you of their own love of books, reading, culture. And so it is a place of memories that has a warm place in the hearts of many a student throughout the city. Not to mention that it is open till 11pm in Carlton most days!
While Readings, Carlton is the original shop, opened in 1969- it has expanded to locations in the CBD (in the State Library ), Hawthorn, Malvern, Port Melbourne, St Kilda, and during the Melbourne Writer’s Festival- all with a similar ethos and approach to the art of book-selling.