Booked Up

I heart books. I don’t just say that as a person involved in the production of them; books are something I turn to when I feel lost or just need to get away from it all (which I have, of late).

To me a good book seller needs to understand the tone and mood a book buyer is looking for. I have had people sell me things such as Don Delillo (not a fan) or whatever’s ‘popular’ and completely missed the point of what I needed.

Thankfully, I have found someone who totally gets it when I walk in and say annoying things like: ‘I’m looking for a book that will take me somewhere … Also I am writing a story about X and it’s pretty dark/light/dystopian future/comedy whatever, so if you have anything like that I can study to see what works and what might not in terms of my planned narrative then that would be tops’. Obviously I’m not looking for ideas to steal but something to learn from.

Anyways, my person is Chris, from North Melbourne Books. He just gets me. Chris and his partner, Chris (I believe), started the shop a few years back now. I loved it from the beginning – not only is their taste in books amazing, but they also have a few prints up that I have at home.

Anyhoo, a few weeks back I needed something to take me away from all this, that and everything. I am also writing a hopefully claustrophobic, dystopian future thingie (who knows what it will end up as). I explained all this to Chris and he helped me select three books;

  1. When Marnie Was There by Joan G. Robinson. This one is about the friendship between two young girls, one of whom disappears. It has been adapted into a Studio Ghibli film. I’ve not actually read it yet. I did try but I think the style of writing wasn’t really clicking with where my brain is right now, so I’ll give it a bash later.
  2. Revolver, by Marcus Sedgwick. One of the many awesome things about Chris is he has up-to-date knowledge of YAF (young adult – or yoof – fiction) and had been getting into Sedgwick’s work. I love a bit of YAF; there’s a lot of innovative work going on in the genre. Revolver centres around the death of a young man’s father somewhere in the middle of nowhere in Europe during gold rush times. If you think that sounds pretty straightforward – think again. Sedgwick takes a basic setting and makes an ace twisty as a pack of mega-Twisties thriller. And he’s used one particular symbol brilliantly (guess which one?). It’s also not very long so perfect for a rainy, stormy night stuck inside.
  3. The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton. Based in late 1600s Amsterdam, a newly married 18-year-old (Petronella) arrives at her husband’s house in the city. Unusually the wedding has not yet been consummated. She is greeted by her husband’s severe sister and intrigue ensues, particularly after said husband purchases a replica of their house and Petronella contacts the titular miniaturist. There’s a great darkness to this novel, if you like that kind of thing. I certainly do at times.

The two that I read of the above ticked all the right boxes for me – they were dark, they took me away from where I was and did so using claustrophobic settings – five hundred billion points to Chrisffindor!

Chris has kick started a reading binge but unfortunately I can’t buy any more books at present. Fortunately there are things called libraries and I went to mine. Plus a good friend and I did a swap. So, once my assignment is in, my reading list will be:

  1. Death and the Penguin by Andrey Kurkov (already started it, can’t wait ’til I have time to read more).
  2. Warriors (Super Edition) – Yellowfang’s Secret by Erin Hunter. IT HAS CATS.
  3. The World of Suzie Wong by Richard Mason.
  4. A Blink of the Screen by Terry Pratchett.


2 Responses to “Booked Up”
  1. Nikita says:

    It’s a pity I’m in Sydney, Chris and Chris sound like swell chaps and I’d love to visit their shop. You may not have planned it that way, but for me this is a very effective advertisement!

    • Thanks Nikita. There are such lovely bookstores in Sydney too though. I really like Ariel in Paddington and there’s another just across from the modern art gallery but I can’t remember its name.
      Next time you’re down North Melbs is a quick tram ride from the city, plus we have cake.

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