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By Molly Glassey
February 18, 2020

Where to Find a Good Read to Curl Up to This Weekend

Find that next book to sink your teeth into at one of these local gems.
By Molly Glassey
February 18, 2020


in partnership with

Find that next book to sink your teeth into at one of these local gems.

Melbourne is a city of literary diehards. Maybe it's because we produced Helen Garner, Peter Carey and publications like The Monthly, Lifted Brow and Meanjin. Or maybe because our winter forces us inside, with no choice but to grab a book and set up in front of the fire. Maybe it's because our reading pairs perfectly with a coffee, of which we truly excel at producing. But it's probably because of our resilient, independent bookstores that bustle with readers who understand the magic of paperbacks.

So to help you track down those neighbourhood booksellers holding your next great read, we've teamed up with American Express, in celebration of its Shop Small initiative. Next time you're looking for a good read to curl up with, hit one of these favourites. Plus, in a total win/win, you can pay with your American Express Card at all of these shops and reap the sweet rewards of being a Card Member — all while supporting local business. Your next literary adventure awaits, now go find it.

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    The Paperback Bookshop

    Perched at the top of Bourke Street hill since the 1960s, The Paperback seems untouched by time. Small, dark and cosy, this store makes any book buying experience intimate and memorable. Though we wouldn’t suggest sticking around to cheekily read the first chapter of your purchase — there simply isn’t room. Fitted out with old wooden shelves, The Paperback is stacked full of classic and contemporary titles in fiction and non-fiction. With space being such an issue, each title is lovingly selected. Pop by on your lunch break (Pelligrini’s is next door), and grab one of the shop’s suggested favourites, i.e., not what you’ve seen go gangbusters on Goodreads.

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    Readings St Kilda

    If you live in Melbourne and haven’t lost an hour or two in Readings, then are you really from Melbourne? While Readings’ Carlton store is the gem of Lygon Street (and the original), the St Kilda outpost also has iconic origins (it was formerly the independent bookshop Cosmos). Also, musicians Paul Kelly and Nick Cave have been known to peruse the stacks here. There’s a whole range of genres to choose from including history, art and design, travel, literary fiction and the like from both Australian and international authors. Plus, the St Kilda shop also keeps a rare and impressive range of books from independent publishers. With the sheer amount of reads to choose from, you’re bound to find something to sink your teeth into.

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    Sun Bookshop

    The Sun Bookshop is what boutique bookstore dreams are made of. Tucked into the former candy bar at the art deco Sun Theatre, the shop sells everything from a curated selection of fiction, biography, history, travel and crime to art, design and photography books — plus a fun selection of artistic cards. And if you well up at thoughtful, heartwarming kid-puns, then grab a tissue — the Sun’s business-child The Young Sun is only 60 steps away on Murray Street. It features a collection of beautiful children’s books in a homely, cosy space. Both bookstores also host events, which you can keep up to date with here and here. Head to one of the author events, and you may just find your new favourite book (in autographed form).

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    Metropolis Bookshop

    We get it, not everyone can sit down and read a 1463-page literary classic with dozens of characters, tiny font and even tinier margins (we’re talking about you, Tolstoy). That’s where Metropolis Bookshop swoops in. This independent CBD bookseller specialises in graphic design, architecture, photography, popular culture, fashion, film, music and art books. It’s also as pretty as a picture, with an interior that could feature in any of its design books for sale.

    If you’re chasing that perfect coffee table read, a gift for someone who has everything or just prefer a few more pictures in your evening reads, Metropolis beckons. As any boutique book store should be, it’s a tad hard to find so best to use Google Maps to get to this one — unless you’re well acquainted with Curtin House and what each level holds.

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    Andrew's Bookshop

    In 1977, Andrew Ball found two boxes of books under his parents’ house. He sold those books at the Wantirna Trash and Treasure Market for the princely sum of $12. Then in 1981, Ball opened up his first namesake shop in Ringwood, and two years later he opened this store in Ivanhoe. Now, Andrew’s Bookshop is one of the few independent booksellers serving Melbourne’s northeastern suburbs. So, go say ‘g’day’, and make sure to ask about the featured author of the week; it’s usually a local author, so you’ll be able to curl up to some local stories from a local voice all found at your local bookshop. Talk about loving thy neighbour.

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    Avenue Bookstore

    Talking about bucking the trend, Avenue Books is a small book business that just keeps getting bigger and bigger. Originally opened in Albert Park in 1986, the independent bookshop empire expanded to Elsternwick in 2012 and then to Richmond in 2016. The Richmond shop focuses heavily on fiction, art books and children’s literature, with both local and imported titles on offer. Friendly and knowledgeable, the staff will lend a hand finding and recommending books across all genres — there are even a dedicated children’s book experts.


Love where you live and support the spots that make Melbourne so great. Discover more local businesses and more ways to shop small here, thanks to American Express.

Top image: Metropolis Books.

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