Dear Bookshops I Have Known,
How can I choose my favourite amongst you, when you’ve all meant so much to me?
Whitcoulls in Wellington’s James Smith’s department store gave me a job while I was at university, and access to bargains from the $1 bin (it was 1986), such as Cynthia Heimel’s Sex Tips for Girls, which I still have.
Parsons was the Bond Street jeweller of books to a struggling student – all those art books to covet on the way upstairs to an endless filter coffee, only fifty cents and with the added bonus of whipped cream and listening to Mike Bungay hold court at the next table.
The Women’s Bookshop in Courtenay Place, where I bought my collection of Viragos (Willa Cather, Vita Sackville-West) and flicked through Broadsheet.
Capital Books, my go-to for how-to books – no subject too obscure. All these particular shops gone now, but remembered whenever I look at my bookshelf.
My old favourites, who go from strength to strength:
Unity, I found you first in Willis Street, in a building that’s been replaced by something flash and glassy, and have followed you around faithfully.
Marsden Books, who make the trip to Karori always worthwhile.
The Children’s Bookshop, who opened the year after my first child was born, and have let me re-visit my own childhood (Frances the badger, Orlando the Marmalade cat!) and discover new joys with my sons. My boys are grown-up now, but I still shop there – you’re never too old for great children’s books. Ruth and John were some of the very first people I told when I finally sold a novel, and I’m so grateful for all their support.
The newer shops that, of course, have opened just for me: Ekor. Vic Books. And out of town, The Women’s Bookshop, Wardini’s, McLeods. The pleasure of shelves stocked with care and discernment. The whole vibe of delight in creation and language, and in the beautiful, magical objects that are books.
Thank you all
Catherine Robertson is a number one New Zealand best-selling author. She lives beside the sea in Wellington, New Zealand, with her husband, the one son still at home, two rescue dogs and a Burmese cat.