The days are longer, the sun is slowly pushing through the rain clouds and vast throngs of people are spilling into the streets of Melbourne. Summer is taking over and everyone’s embracing it with bare sleeves and open arms. Cafe courtyards are buzzing with caffeine addicts and leisurely diners while beer gardens and terraces are swamped by workers relaxing with Friday night drinks. The warmer months bring with them a sense of frivolity and freedom. With holidays approaching, people look forward to time away from work, pressure and stress. Time to relax and time to breathe.
Swap the laptop for a paperback. Lightweight and easy to shove into a bag, a good read is the perfect way to switch off and escape the demands of daily life. Melbourne offers many tranquil spots to enjoy both the warmer weather and a great book. It’s a city that boasts greenery and gardens in and around the CBD but to escape the bustle and high-rises, travel to the beach to soak up some sun (sensibly), swim and get lost in a bay-side read.
Where to find the perfect summer read? In this city of literature, bookstores are a plenty, offering a range of options to please many different tastes – from fiction to cookery, crime to art and comics to classics. Second-hand bookstores are ideal to browse for out-of-print titles that are not easily sourced from new bookstores. Pre-loved books are usually a quarter of the price of new ones, so will only lighten the coin compartment of your wallet. Used and second-hand bookstores are peppered all over Melbourne and each offers an overwhelming selection of titles.
Second Edition, a cafe and recycled bookstore, offers two essential things in the one setting: coffee and books. Run by the Brotherhood of St Lawrence, the proceeds of the store go to benefit those in need.
215 Glenferrie Road, Malvern
(03) 9509 5241
Book Affair is Melbourne’s biggest second-hand dealer, where you’re sure to find what your after, with three stores, located in Carlton, Fitzroy and Brunswick.
161 Elgin Street, Carlton
(03) 9347 3542
287 Smith Street, Fitzroy
(03) 9419 0304
149 Sydney Road, Brunswick
(03) 9029 0896
For those with a penchant for cooking and cookbooks Books for Cooks specialises in both new and used cookbooks for beginners and professionals, and every cuisine imaginable.
233-235 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy
(03) 8415 1415
Books at Fed Square is comprises bookstalls offering new and pre-loved books from different booksellers and takes place every Saturday from 11am to 5pm.
The Atrium at Federation Square
It’s rare to find a second-hand bookstore that is as fresh and organised as Brown & Bunting, offering recent releases and many books in nearly new condition.
237 High Street, Northcote
(03) 9481 3385
A store to visit just for its name, Poets and Thieves in Albert Park is a hidden gem of a store specialising in second-hand literary fiction.
1 Victoria Avenue, Albert Park
0413 561 842
For those who prefer their books in pristine condition without dog-eared pages, Melbourne offers a varied selection of new bookstores.
Parlez-vous français? If you don’t, the Foreign Language Bookstore can certainly help. It sells a wide range grammar books, dictionaries and novels as well as films in many foreign languages.
259 Collins Street, Melbourne
1800 350 990
Those talented in the way of art and craft will find books to please at the Artisan Book Shop. It has beautiful books on a variety of trades for skilled hands to enjoy.
159 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy
(03) 9416 4805
Step through the ornate doors at Berkelouw Books for lush coffee-table books on photography, fashion, art and design. The armchairs offer the perfect place to flip through glossy pages.
1044 High Street, Armadale
(03) 9576 2555
If you’re looking for a good read while in the city, Bourke Street offers two bookshops sure to satisfy your needs and interests. Hill of Content has been around for over 80 years and offers personalised customer service.
86 Bourke Street, Melbourne
(03) 9662 9472
The Paperback Bookshop has an extensive range of titles and will also source books not available in store.
60 Bourke Street, Melbourne
(03) 9662 1396
Celebrating its 25th year in 2011, the award-winning Avenue Bookstore offers books on every subject for any taste. It also has a loyalty program for frequent buyers, books and rewards, impossible to resist.
127 Dundas Place, Albert Park
(03) 9690 2227
Of course there are many other great bookshops scattered all over town, but there’s only so much you can read in one summer. For more, check out our list Melbourne bookstores here.