The day that I visited Readings Melbourne was the sort of blustery autumnal day that I love the most. I had spent the early hours of the morning in bed; listening to the rain, the burnt orange leaves skittering against the window panes as I padded back and forth to the kitchenette of the studio I was staying in to make copious cups of tea. It was my penultimate day in Melbourne, and I knew I wanted to pay one of the city’s best-loved bookshops a visit before my flight back to Sydney the next day.
With seven shops scattered across the city, Readings Melbourne have long been at the centre of the local literary scene, and boasts a lively calendar of events, performances and book launches throughout the year, as well as a brilliant blog and podcast, that celebrate books, reading and culture. As one of Melbourne’s best-known (and loved) independent bookstores, Readings is synonymous with offering its varied clientele the chance to escape their every day between the pages of a book, and with a a vast range of international and local books on offer, it’s easy to see why it’s at the forefront of Melbourne’s beating heart of books.
I was staying in Fitzroy – an inner-city suburb known for its enticing slice of village life with a decidedly cool edge – which meant I was just a short walk from the Readings’ Carlton branch, and so, after a morning spent in bed reading, I headed on my literary pilgrimage in the hope to find one of the many books on my never-ending bookish wish list.
Located on Carlton’s leafy Lygon Street – the place where Melbourne’s famous cafe culture was born – the Readings Melbourne Carlton shop is a gorgeous space with ambient music, friendly staff and endless stacks of books. Knowing that I was limited to hand luggage when flying back to Sydney, I had two books in mind that I hoped to buy – Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow by , which author Will Dean chose for one of his desert island books – and The Forty Rules of Love by Elif Şafak, which I had yet to find during my trip to Melbourne.
Despite its city-centric locale, Readings Melbourne has the sort of village bookshop vibe I love, and it was the sort of place I could have easily stayed for hours. And while they didn’t have Peter Høeg’s bets known book in stock, one of the friendly booksellers found a copy of The Forty Rules of Love, and so after an hour or so gazing longingly at the shelves of books, I bought myself a copy and left, promising to return next time I was in Melbourne.
Bookseller Recommendation from Readings Melbourne
At Readings in Carlton there are two (of many!) staff favourites that I have been recommending to customers for both themselves and book clubs recently. Both are beautifully written, are a pleasure to read and leave much to think about.
Brother of the More Famous Jack by Barbara Trapido has been recently reissued in a 40th anniversary addition and, described as a coming-of-age classic, this is the one for you if you need to freshen up your reading, It’s such a delight, and there’s so much to love about the characters that you’ll be giving a copy to everyone you know.
Another exceptional book is The Colony by Audrey Magee, published this year. Set in a stunning landscape that takes the reader right there, it’s a fascinating story of family, culture, language, history, grief and love. There are so many layers to this book, it’s hard to put down and you’ll be thinking about it for weeks afterwards. It’s a stunning and evocative book; usually I skim read landscape descriptions to get to the plot but in this book I read every single world about this wild and unique place. I high recommend going there.
Recommended by Nicki Levy, bookseller at Readings Melbourne.
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