MacLean's Booksellers

Shore up your spirits with some bookshop banter. In this special series, Sydney Writers' Festival speaks with bookshops across Australia about the special place they hold in our bookworm hearts. From recommendations on your next great read to advice on getting through lockdown, hear from the people many of us trust the most. 

This edition, we speak to bookseller Amanda Shirley, owner of MacLean's Booksellers in Newcastle. 

What purpose do you feel a bookshop serves in the community?  

A community bookshop is a safe place, somewhere you can go to lose yourself and escape just for a while, somewhere you can go to chat, discuss thoughts and world events or somewhere to meet a friend or browse while waiting for your takeaway.

What is your favourite moment or memory in a bookshop?

We have had many memorable moments in our shop, but you can't beat the joy of meeting authors and sharing a conversation with them. I did have a real fan girl moment when Kerry Greenwood came into shop. I also love it when children's authors visit. Watching kids speak to their favourite authors is one of the most rewarding things about my job.

What do you get asked about most by customers?

Can you recommend something to me, or what have you read lately.

Watching kids speak to their favourite authors is one of the most rewarding things about my job.

What is the best book you’ve read recently?

I have been reading kids books lately, I loved The Song of Lewis Carmichael by Sofie Laguna. I have also just started reading the new Colm Tóibín, The Magician, a fictionalised story based on the life of Thomas Mann. I just love his writing, so easy to read. 

What children’s book do you think adults should read?

Anything out loud to a child. If any adult hasn't experienced the joy of sharing a story with a child they are missing out on one of life's great joys. We read novels to our 10-year-old each night and it's his favourite time of the day.

Any advice on getting through lockdown?

Lockdown has brought many challenges. My advice would be to try and be understanding of each other, keep calm, smile, do your best and carry on.

If any adult hasn't experienced the joy of sharing a story with a child they are missing out on one of life's great joys.