In a post this week, Betsy Learner asked her readers to post a comment about their favourite local bookshops. It prompted from me a meander down Memory Lne, and, since I have been too busy settling into my fancy new Sydney life to write about said fancy new life (which I will do at some point soon), and also since I’d like for my latest post not to remain the one about my father, I thought I’d post what I wrote. If this prompts a similar memory in you, please do go to Betsy’s post and add it there (I’d hate to ninja comments lol!)
"I have a thing for second hand bookshops which specialize mostly in non-fiction or old textbooks (there’s something brash and low self-esteem about second hand fiction, their titles somehow always seem to have turned into huge, slutty pink-foil letters!) The good ones have the musty-sweet scent of old paper and have no cafe, and no music, just floor to ceiling books with conveniently placed ladders.
My two favourite stores in Melbourne (Australia) were Dr. Syntax in Commercial Rd, South Yarra and what is now boringly called the Queenscliff branch of “Barwon Booksellers” in the old bluestone Wesleyan church in the main street of Queenscliff. I say “were’ because one lunchtime – god, a decade ago? – I headed down to Dr. Syntax to finally purchase the complete John Donne in pretty blue leather and the 1930s textbook on Australian Aboriginals and two other texts from the 50s, that I’d had my eye on for some time (I love old anthropology textbooks as a sometimes eye-opening, often hysterical history of the ignorance and arrogance of the ruling elite) to find it had gone out of business. I was devastated, and felt fairly guilty for not having just bought the books in the previous weeks (my $120 surely would have kept them going!)
Some weeks later, on holiday in Queenscliff (a beach town around the bay from Melbourne) I wandered into the ex-church-bookshop and was browsing when I spotted a familiar little book with pretty blue leather binding. I snatched it up and, sure enough, it was my Donne – with the Dr. Syntax price still in pencil in the front flap!
I raced to the counter and breathlessly asked if they’d purchased the Syntax stock – they had! I found all four books that day and left with the odd feeling that I’d discovered that some lost friends had found themselves a good home."
The following picture was taken in on Sea Shipment Day, 2008, 6 weeks after we arrived in Japan – many of the books pictured were purchased at Doc’s 🙂