Explore the 2024 Program

Shop Talk: Writers on Bookstores, Part 3

In this edition of Shop Talk, Tony Birch (The White Girl), Tara June Winch (The Yield), Josephine Rowe (Here Until August) and Thomas Mayor (Finding the Heart of the Nation) tell us about a favourite bookstore and what they last selected from its shelves. 

Don't forget to support your local bookstore with online or phone orders if you're unable to visit.

Readings (Carlton, VIC)

My favourite bookshop is Readings on Lygon Street. The shop is close to home and I wander in there at least a couple of times a week. The staff are warm, they love books and are always happy to see my dog, Kes, in the shop. My last Reading’s purchase was Deborah Eisenberg's most recent story collection, Your Duck Is My Duck. Along with Lucia Berlin, Eisenberg is one of my very favourite short fiction writers. Any reader who loves the form would enjoy this book.

– Tony Birch

The Bookshop (Darwin, NT)

My favourite bookstore is The Bookshop Darwin. I love the store because it is owned by a friendly local woman, and it is the only independent in Darwin. My last purchase at the Bookshop Darwin was A Handful of Sand – The Gurindji Struggle, After the Walk-Off by Charlie Ward. The Wave-Hill Walk-Off was a moment in Australia’s history as important as Eureka Stockade, and the courage and determination of Vincent Lingiari should be celebrated. I recommend the book because it provides an in-depth understanding of the Gurindji struggle and most importantly, how their hopes and dreams were dashed soon after the handful of sand, because they didn’t have a voice in the centre of decision making. I enjoyed the book because it teaches us why we must pursue constitutional recognition, as proposed in the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

Magabala Books (Broome, WA)

It’s impossible for me to choose a favourite Melbourne bookstore – so many have sustained me, as writer, reader, or employee over the years – so I’m casting further afield. I visited Broome for the first time last year, and became more familiar with the work of wonderful Magabala Books – storefront and indie Indigenous publisher in one, which champions exclusively Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander authors and artists. My most recent Magabala purchase was Alison Whittaker’s Blakwork (picked up via a Melbourne love, Paperback Bookshop) as more and more I’m craving structurally intrepid, genre eliding works.

– Josephine Rowe

Better Read Than Dead (Newtown, NSW) 

The staff at Better Read are just brilliant, always engaging and supportive of their strong reading community and Australian writers. The blue shelves are iconic, the upstairs room for events is snug and there is a cinema a couple of doors up with plenty of cafes and local businesses surrounding. My last purchase there was Ruby Hamad’s White Tears/Brown Scars: How White Feminism Betrays Women of Colour. I'd heard rumblings about Ruby and read some of her essays online. I liked her ferocity. (That orange cover is genius, also.) Turns out it's a brilliant book of essays  it unequivocally slays and her voice is a tower and a torchlight within the feminist movement. 

 – Tara June Winch