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  • Writer's pictureNZ Booklovers

Bookstores Between the Pages

I’ll admit, I’ve fantasized about getting locked in overnight in a bookstore. There’s just something about a bookstore that holds incredible swaying power over bibliophiles. Aside from the books, that is. But if the books are about bookstores? I’m a goner. That’s blissful biblio-ception.

With New Zealand Bookshop Day hurtling around the corner, there’s no better time than now to talk about bookstores. Bookstores all across New Zealand will be holding literary events to celebrate the bookstore. Unfortunately, none if it involves getting locked in overnight in a bookstore. There are other events that are almost as cool, however.

To tide you till then, here’s a list of bookish bookstores we’ve compiled just for you:

Island Books in The Collected Works of A.J. Fikry

“You know everything you need to know about a person from the answer to the question, What is your favorite book?”

Set in a small, sea-side town the novel revolves around A.J. Fikry’s bookstore which, like its jaded, cynical owner, has been steadily decreasing in popularity. The narrative flits between a few central characters, and is a very much a Small TownTM book. It’s complete with quirky, caricature characters, and people engaging in poignant and heart-warming relationships. In fact, it’s exactly the kind of book that the titular character, AJ, would despise. It is, however, a good bit of light-hearted entertainment and very much a love letter to books and bookstores.

84, Charing Cross Road in 84, Charing Cross Road

“If you happen to pass by 84 Charing Cross Road, kiss it for me? I owe it so much.”

You can’t mention letters, and then not segue into 84 Charing Cross Road. Having acquired a cult following, this collection of letters chronicles the growing friendship between New York writer, Helene Hanff and British bookshop clerk, Frank Doel. It all starts with a small book order for a rare, antiquarian book and soon snowballs into an exchange of the difficulties of war-time rationing, and the life of a struggling writer, with literary discussion on the side. This little gem is a testament to the relationships that books and words can sustain. And the fact that it’s non-fiction makes it even better!

The Strand Bookstore in Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares

“Luckily, I always travel with a book, just in case I have to wait in line for Santa, or some such inconvenience.”

It all starts off when Lily, left alone on Christmas, leave a red book with a single dare in it on the shelves of the renowned Strand Bookstore. The Strand is famously known to have “18 miles of books” and is a bibliophile’s dream. It, and Manhattan becomes Dash and Lily’s playground, and reading about their exploits is both entertaining and though-provoking. The book opens and closes with the Strand, and practically overflows with colourful settings, and even more colourful characters.

Flourish & Blotts in the Harry Potter Series

“…shelves were stacked to the ceiling with books as large as paving stoned bounds in leather; books the size of postage stamps in covers of silk; books full of peculiar symbols and a few books with nothing in them at all…”

To be fair, Flourish & Blotts isn’t really a central part of the HP series. But its combination of the magical and the bizarre more than makes up for it. Who among you can deny the enchanting pull of Flourish & Blotts? Floating books, talking books, monstrous books, disappearing books? This bookshop has everything you could ever imagine, and a whole lot more you couldn’t.

Now tell us about your favourite bookish bookstores.

Faustina Paustin


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