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

Find that next book to sink your teeth into at one of these local gems.
By Jasmine Crittenden
August 02, 2021
By Jasmine Crittenden
August 02, 2021


in partnership with

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

The internet may have delivered on its promise of infinite information, available at any point in time. But there's no substitute for sinking into the couch with a good book. There's also nothing like discovering a new read at your local bookshop. So, we've teamed up with American Express, in celebration of its Shop Small initiative, to track down those neighbourhood booksellers who'll help you find your next great read. Plus, you can pay with your American Express Card at all of these shops, so you can reap the sweet rewards of being a Card Member all while supporting local business.

Despite ebooks, online book companies and Netflix, these independent booksellers are still winning bundles of readers' love with their quirky collections, smart recommendations and cosy nooks. And don't worry, a heap of them are set up to deliver your next great read direct to your door.

Greater Sydney is currently under stay at home orders so, while you can't visit these shops in person, you can still show your support and purchase the items you love online. You can stay up to date with the developing COVID-19 situation in Sydney, as well as current restrictions, at NSW Health.

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    Title Barangaroo

    Title Barangaroo, along with its mothership store in Surry Hills, is where quality reigns supreme. Not about what’s new, but what’s good, as its slogan goes, the shop avoids the trends. Here, you’ll find a massive collection of art books, ranging in topics from architecture and interior design to fashion to photography, as well as the usual suspects, including fiction, literary fiction, non-fiction, mystery, sci fi and the like. Find joy in sifting through the many titles available, then bounce over to the film and music sections. Pan through new vinyl and feel nostalgia over scanning the DVDs for your favourite flick.

    Lockdown delivery options: You can shop for Title’s selection of books, films, music and games online. The bookstore even offers free same-day delivery if you live in Barangaroo or the CBD.

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    Better Read Than Dead

    Since 1996, Better Read Than Dead has provided a quiet, booked-line haven on Newtown’s hectic King Street. Students, locals, thinkers and drifters come in here to get lost among the floor-to-ceiling shelves. Spend as long as you like wandering around, without feeling pressured to make a decision. The diverse collection will definitely keep you going, spanning everything from fiction and poetry; law and medicine; and sport to cooking. Head to the landing if you’re craving a culinary read — the space is entirely dedicated to food-themed books including cookbooks, memoirs and biographies. The section also comes with a side of travel books, if you’re after something to inspire some wanderlust.

    Lockdown delivery options: Better Read Than Dead is offering free delivery across Australia during Sydney’s lockdown. You can shop for books and find its reading guides through its website, or you can call the store to order.

    Image: James Horan via Destination NSW.

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  • 9
    Grand Days Books & Records

    Named after Australian writer Frank Moorhouse’s 1993 novel, Grand Days is a paean to Sydney’s bohemian years. An afternoon spent here is one spent on an unpredictable adventure — through everything from classic and contemporary fiction to art, music and film to history, science and architecture. Interspersed among the titles are vintage dresses, secondhand shoes, hats, bags and jewellery if you’re after a new outfit to wear while reading your new book. Meanwhile, in the backroom, you’ll discover a space devoted to vinyl — where you’re welcome to spin a record or two. Pick up your new read and, while you’re at it, a new record to listen to while curled up with your book. Wholesome weekend, sorted.

    Lockdown delivery options: Grand Days is offering free delivery to all Sydneysiders locked down if you use the code ‘STAYSAFE’ at checkout when buying online.

    Image: Kitti Gould.

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    The Berkelouw story begins more than 200 years ago, on the other side of the world. In 1812, in Rotterdam, Holland, Solomon Berkelouw started selling theology books on Rotterdam Quay. Six generations later, his ancestors are still in the book trade, with bookshops all over Australia. The Paddington branch, opened in 1994, gives you three floors of books to explore — both new and secondhand. And if you’re struggling to decide on a book, the staff is more than happy to provide some recommendations and reviews. Once you’ve found your read, there’s no need to leave right away. Head to the cafe on level two overlooking Oxford Street to sip a coffee while leafing through your new purchase.

    Lockdown delivery options: You can shop your way through Berkelow’s catalogue of books including its large range of rare books via its website.

    Image: Destination NSW.

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    Sappho isn’t just a bookshop. It’s a cafe, tapas bar and general hideaway, where you can get cosy with your new read for hours. The collection is all secondhand, so you never know what you might find, from first editions and hard-to-find titles to a near-new copy of a recent bestseller. Once you’ve uncovered your next read, head out to the courtyard for coffee, cake and a nice, long reading session in the sun. Come evening, the space transforms into a tapas bar, which frequently hosts open mics, poetry readings and live music. It also makes for a great spot to sip a glass of vino while you dive even further into your story.

    Lockdown delivery options: Sappho has temporarily shut up shop during Greater Sydney’s lockdown. The Glebe favourite will reopen once restrictions begin to roll back.

    Image: Daniel Boud via Destination NSW.

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    Established in 1985 in Paddington, Ariel Booksellers is one of Sydney’s oldest independent bookshops. Following a stint in The Rocks, the store has now settled in Darlinghurst right on Oxford Street. The shop is perhaps best known for its excellent collection of books covering art, design and architecture — including a bunch perfect for the coffee table. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. If you’re looking for poetry, plays, film history or literature, you’ll find it all here, too. Check out the shelves featuring the store’s recommended reads if you’re stumped on what to pick up next. Or browse through the tables piled with new releases, cheeky self help-style books and off-beat titles.

    Lockdown delivery options: While the Darlinghurst bookstore might be closed, you can buy and browse for books through Ariel’s online store. If you’d like a book recommendation, you can contact the Ariel staff on Instagram.

    Image: Destination NSW.

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    Constant Reader Bookshop

    Readers of the lower north shore have been gathering at The Constant Reader since it opened way back in 1979. On top of being one of Sydney’s oldest independent bookshops, it’s also one of the biggest. Lose yourself in more than 238 square metres — crowded with fiction, biographies, art, design, cooking, crime, sport, travel and more. The shop also runs frequent author talks, so you can find your new read while meeting its creator all at the same time. Plus, its Facebook page is constantly being updated with info on new releases, award-winners and general inspiration for the books to add to your list.

    Lockdown delivery options: Constant Reader’s expansive library of books is available for purchase online. The bookstore is offering free delivery to Crows Nest and neighbouring suburbs, as well as click and collect throughout lockdown.

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    Sporting a name that pays homage to Irish playwright and poet Oscar Wilde, this is a great spot to hit up when you’re looking for a fresh read to get absorbed in while the weather is cooler. Browse through the brightly lit shop and marvel at the huge bookshelf that takes up the entire back wall. The shop beholds an extensive collection of cookbooks, a huge fiction section and hot-off-the-press new releases.

    Lockdown delivery options: Oscar and Friends are currently offering free local delivery as well as click and collect for orders made via its online store or over the phone or email. Head to the bookstore’s website for full details.

    Image: Arvin Prem Kumar

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    Every neighbourhood needs a great local bookstore — one where browsing is encouraged, where staff members are generous with their personal recommendations, and it’s almost impossible to leave empty-handed. Hill of Content is one of those places. From award-winning literary fiction to children’s books and gorgeous new hardcover additions to your finest coffee table tomes, somewhere among the rows of merchandise you’ll find a winning pick. It’s also a gift shopper’s sanctuary with jigsaw puzzles, games, and literary-themed knick-knacks to choose from.

    Lockdown delivery options: Hill of Content offers free local delivery, pickup and click and collect on all orders made through its online store.

    Images: Arvin Prem Kumar

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    According to its owners, Potts Point Bookshop is found in the ‘Paris-end’ of the inner-city suburb. The beautiful independent bookstore certainly makes you feel like you’ve entered a European pocket of Sydney, with its light-filled space and stacks upon stacks of fiction and non-fiction to gaze over. The shop is filled with books of all kinds, from an impressive list of art and design prints to political memoirs and the latest paperbacks. The sheer volume here requires a dedicated team of experts, and you’re in good hands as 2020’s ABA Penguin Random House Young Bookseller of the Year, Simon McDonald, is here to guide you through whatever page-turner you’re after. Between them, the store’s staff has 50 years of bookselling expertise to share. It also hosts author talks and readings from time to time.

    Lockdown delivery options: Potts Point bookshop is open for collections. You can order online or by calling the store.

    Images: Kitti Gould

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    Comedian Jerry Seinfeld once said that “a bookstore is one of the only pieces of evidence we have that people are still thinking”. Gleebooks on Glebe Point Road, the original of a small forty-year franchise with stores also in Dulwich Hill and Blackheath, captures the serious and delightful business of buying a new book in an elegant well-tended store. It’s right next door to second-hand book shop Sappho, so visit back-to-back. Apart from selling books, Gleebooks also holds various talks, events and book launches which take place in an upstairs room. Forget “that new car smell”, it’s the scent of freshly printed pages that truly piques your interest.

    Lockdown delivery options: You can shop for your next read at Gleebooks online store. All three stores are open for pickup. Free delivery is also available for residents within 10 kilometres of Glebe or on orders over $70 for the rest of NSW.

    Images: Kieran Gilfeather

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

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