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My Book Store Safari – part 1 July 17, 2010

Posted by mattfarmer in books and reading.
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To be a writer, you need to be a reader. That goes without saying. Or writing. You need to read how other people write, to fill yourself with different flavours of fiction. Also, you need to fill your brain with information, non-fiction, other genres. You need to fill your senses with the smell of books, the sight of book shelves full of books, and imagine your book(s) on those shelves. You need to feel the paper, listen to the hush of a book store and taste the writing on the air.

I may be reaching with slipping that sense in there, but are you like me? You enter a book store and you start to salivate, just a little. Lick the lips in anticipation of books? In some book shops I swear there is a palpable taste in the air. Some of you now what I am talking about.

I had a very special guest stay with me, us, over the weekend. One half of the dynamic duo who introduced me to my wife, ten years ago, in a dodgy pub in the west end of London. My ‘awesome kiwi chick’ friend flew in from Auckland for our wedding reception over the weekend. I small affair, with 80 people and an AWESOME cake.

I took Monday off my daily grind to spend the day with her, my wife did the same. And it was up to me to make the plans for the day. Well, AKC loves to read and draw. She enjoys curling up on the couch with a good book and reading for hours. She is currently reacquainting herself with “The Catcher in the Rye”

So, I declared – we will go on a book safari of Melbourne! And you must buy at least ONE book for the day. Hard to limit yourself, I know. I grabbed 4 books in all, but more on that later.

The adventure started at Reader’s Feast, located just at the end of the Bourke Street Mall. This store was the most ‘commercial’ on our tour. Dont get me wrong, I don’t mind the big book stores, but there is just something about them that makes me feel that they care more about the sale, rather than about the books. They are more a retail outlet, as opposed to a book shop.

I think Reader’s Feast sits on the borderline of this retail/book store concept. If it sold CDs and DVDs, then it would tip the balance the wrong way.

The Reader’s Feast is well laid out, with fiction off to the left, and non fiction starting in the middle and curving around to the right, with kids book in the corner. It is clean and tidy and has a hushed atmosphere reminiscent of a library, however there is always the quiet cheerful banter from the cash register between customer and seller.

As a generic bookstore it does not have large sections devoted to any one genre. Two long shelves of speculative fiction, and one for crime, double-sided mind you. The reference section is a series of one- sided long shelf areas- a shelf for dictionaries, another one for writing reference. A single side for psychology books, another for esoteric books. I have purchased from these sections in the past, but it sometimes feels I grabbed the one or two good books, for my taste, and now that well is kind of shallow.

For me, on this visit, I scored in the speculative fiction area. I found two steam punk novels, which I am very excited about. Android Karenina and The Dream of Perpetual Motion. Both are a case of judging the book by its cover, and blurb, but I am quite excited by these finds.

Another thing about Reader’s Feast I really do like is their Privileged Reader Programme. In a nut shell, 10% of the value of your purchases is sent to you, every 6 months, in the form of a voucher. No hoops to jump through, no complicated questionnaire. Just a simple – buy this much, get that much in a voucher.

I guarantee you, this will bring you back to buy more, just so you can get more in the biannual voucher.

After close to half an hour, I took my small group to their next destination….

Matt- Android Kareena, The Dream of perpetual Motion

Wife- Imperial Bedroom, by Bret Easton Ellis

Awesome Kiwi Chick- no books purchased



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