Maybe you attended the Sydney Writer’s Festival and are feeling inspired to get your head in a good book, or maybe you are thinking of booking an accommodation option soon so that you can check out this great city; either way, there’s no better place to lose yourself while visiting Sydney than a fabulous bookshop. Winter is the perfect time for curling up in your PJs and reading a great novel in bed, or on your lunch break, or by the fire or on the bus … well, you get the picture! Read on for a list of quirky, specialty and independent bookstores where you’re sure to uncover some interesting reads. Here are the top Sydney bookshops to visit this winter.
An Oxford Street landmark since 1985, Ariel Booksellers carefully selects its handpicked ranges and is known for its knowledgeable staff and superb collection, in particular in the areas of art, architecture and design. With an open and clean interior, the shop is loved by artists, architects and students alike, as well as families who peruse the kids’ book section and the travel guides on offer. Open until midnight, the store is close to both the College of Fine Arts and some hipster suburbs, making it a funky place to see an interesting mix of characters.
Generally regarded as the city’s best bookshop option, this Sydney institution stocks a huge range of books in various genres, from literary fiction to children’s books, cultural studies and even second-hand tomes (all of which are spread across multiple stores). A reliable independent bookseller that regularly plays host to local and international speakers and book launches, Gleebooks is a literature lover’s dream.
Gertrude & Alice
With wall-to-wall books from the ceiling to the floor, this funky bookshop and cafe mix provides a welcome quiet haven amongst the surfie and backpacker crowds of Bondi Beach. With excellent fresh food served on the premises and solid communal tables to sit at, this is a lovely spot to hang out if you’re feeling a little lonely or want to be surrounded by a great atmosphere. At this Bondi mainstay that was named after Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas (the American couple who encouraged Ernest Hemingway and Henry Miller’s careers) you’ll always feel at home.
Better Read Than Dead
A specialist in Australian travel writing, Better Read than Dead is a favourite bookshop for many Sydneysiders, and not just due to its humorous name. With one of the best staff recommendation systems you’ll find, booklovers will never be short of a great new author to try out that they may never have come across otherwise. The knowledgeable staff here is helpful and chatty if you’re keen for some conversation or assistance, but otherwise they know to leave you be while you browse through the great selection of titles available. This is a beautifully presented shop that offers a selection of mainstream through to literary works and everything in between.
The leading bookshop chain for both new releases and second-hand gems, Berkelouw stores can be found around the city. From the well-established stalwarts in Paddington and Leichhardt to the newer branches in Newtown and Cronulla, booklovers won’t be disappointed with the range, setting or facilities on offer. With cafes and plenty of comfy leather couches to snuggle up on, the stores are full of wooden bookcases for you to pore over and get lost in. Since first setting up shop in Holland in 1812, the Berkelouw family has now specialised in second-hand and rare books for six generations — and it shows.
Sappho Books & Café
With a loyal custom from many local Sydney University students, this tiny second-hand bookshop cum café and wine bar has a huge range of books on every subject matter. Hosts to regular poetry nights, the store has a shabby chic feel to it but the organizational style of a group of obsessive-compulsives! In the drama section, for example, the books have been divided into five alphabetically arranged and labeled sub-sections, meaning it’s never hard to find what you’re looking for, even in such a small space.
Whether you’re after the latest literary masterpiece or most up-to-date travel tome, don your winter woolies and check out some of Sydney’s best bookshops today.