Whether you’re after a socialist tome or a spiritual awakening, there's nothing better than a good root around a specialist book store
Ask Tim White at Books for Cooks anything about food and he’ll think for a moment, climb up a shelf or two, and pull out the one book you never knew you needed. Tim’s a food lover’s oracle, with a collection respected among Melbourne’s restaurant heavyweights. Into nose-to-tail cuisine? Want to sharpen your knife skills? Fancy trying out tripe recipes from vintage cookbooks circa 1850? They'll order books for you if they don’t have what you’re after, too. It’s customer service like Tim’s that can awaken the chef in even the most two-minute-noodle loving philistine. Fitzroy.
Perimeter Books is just plain lovely to be in. Its crisp white walls, shelves of specialised art and small press books you’ve never seen before – not to mention the far from uppity customer service – makes it one of Thornbury’s finest attractions. Perimeter Books sells books, but it also shows art. Currently exhibiting are works by Melbourne illustrator Oslo Davis, from his new book Libraryland!, featuring drawings of people, books, weird stuff from Melbourne’s mighty State Library of Victoria. There’ll be exhibitions launching monthly throughout 2012 at Perimeter – it’s the best place for a quick art fix if you’ve found yourself on the 86 tram. Thornbury.
Despite the esoteric setting, it’s not all shadows and spectres at the Haunted Bookshop. Proprietor Drew Sinton has created a magically educational oasis where aficionados of the arcane and those curious about the occult can search and query all manner of spiritual tomes. This paranormal parlour is exceptionally well-stocked with titles covering topics from reincarnation, Magick, zombies, palmistry, horror, spirituality, mediumship, vampires, divination, aliens, Wicca and appropriately, ghosts. Shoppers are also offered a formidable online catalogue, gothic jewellery, tarot decks and supernatural knick-knacks. Melbourne.
Kay Craddock’s isn’t so much a bookshop as a place to find leather-bound pieces of history or rediscover once-treasured books you had long forgotten. Opening up on Bourke Street in 1967 and then on Collins Street since 1990, the shop brims with titles across a range of categories, from Antipodean literature and other assorted Australiana to bound volumes of complete works by Dickens, Shakespeare and Byron dating back to the 1800s. Melbourne.
Negotiating the exit of the Australian Centre for the Moving Image via the gift shop is usually the final obstacle between the end of an exhibition and freedom. Once inside the store, though, all thoughts of exodus will be promptly cut from your inner monologue. The incredible range of all things screen will have you scouring the shelves of high-quality publications on film theory, TV, digital media, cinema, and animation. Melbourne.
“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only a page” – or so says St Augustine, who may have lived a millennia or two before the Travellers Bookstore opened up on Smith Street but the two share much the same philosophy. Beyond guidebooks, atlases and maps, the store interprets the notion of travel broadly, stocking travel fiction, biographies and cookbooks, along with books on gardening, history, art and design. While you’re there, you can order a fair trade coffee or stock up on travel-savvy items like a electricity plug converter or a passport pouch, just to make sure you look as touristy as possible at your chosen travel destination. For Bintang T-shirts and corn-row plaits, you may need to try elsewhere. Collingwood.
The Theosophical Society Bookstore is a place where books on all manner of religion, philosophy and science are welcome. Besides Bibles, Korans and Torahs, there are countless books on astrology, numerology, psychism, Jungian psychology, Freemasonry, Egyptology and Celtic mythology throughout the store. If you have no idea what mind dynamics, Vedic mathematics or Rosicrucianism involves, you will by the time you flick through shelves full of books on the stuff. As well as paperbacks and hardbacks, there are CDs, DVDs and other religious and New Age paraphernalia for sale and a huge selection of second-hand titles at the back of the store. If only the rest of the world and its belief-systems could coexist so harmoniously... Melbourne.
Stocking anything and everything from Marxist and anarchist titles to biographies and fiction, the store’s frequent $5 book sales provide feasts of brain-food, no matter how proletarian your budget. You can even recycle and donate your books back for the store’s yearly Big Red Book Fair fundraising event. Carlton South.
Formerly located near Elizabeth Street with posters of Fabio pinned up proudly in the window, Rendezvous has reinvented itself as a bookstore and cafe further up Lonsdale Street. Passionately devoted to romance fiction, Rendezvous stock titles from a range of genres, from contemporary and erotica to regency and vampire tales of love and lasciviousness. Even if romance novels don’t do it for you, Rendezvous is well worth a visit, if only to discover genres you never even knew existed (paranormal romance, anyone?) You never know: the list of staff favourites on the shop’s website just might send your beating heart (or quivering loins) aflutter. With titles like Night Pleasures, Ravished and The Pirate Lord, how could you possibly resist? Melbourne.