The Bookshop at Queenscliff

Last year, Jo at the Book Skeptic visited a new-to-her bookshop each month. I very much enjoyed these posts (and the vicarious book-buying!). While I doubt that I will have twelve new-to-me bookshops to profile this year, I’m following Jo’s lead and will share the treasures I come across.

The first is The Bookshop at Queenscliff.

I recently spent a couple of days at the seaside town of Queenscliff. My son, who wants to be a marine biologist, was doing an aquatic science camp at the Marine & Freshwater Discovery Centre at Swan Bay. While he was snorkelling, canoeing, out with fisheries officers, and visiting mussel hatcheries, I spent time at the beach and visited the bookshop.

The Bookshop at Queenscliff is minimalist in design – bright, airy, and uncluttered, the shop has a tightly curated offering (clearly they know their clientele). Although there was a designated section for children’s books, the rest of the shop wasn’t organised in the standard way (i.e. shelves devoted to particular categories). Instead, fiction and non-fiction were mixed, displayed on large tables and roomy shelves. New releases sat alongside older publications, and while it wasn’t obvious why some books were next to others, the display was cohesive – which enhanced the browsing!

I made two purchases – Shell by Kristina Olsson (on the strength of Lisa at ANZ LitLovers review) and a book I’d never seen before – Hannah’s Dress: Berlin 1904-2014 by Pascale Hugues (having just returned from Berlin, this book had my name all over it).

I had a lovely Stella-Prize-longlist-speculation discussion with owner of the shop. We agreed that The Arsonist by Chloe Hooper will be there. He thought that The Biographer’s Lover by Ruby J Murray had been sorely overlooked by critics and hoped that it would make the list (check out the review at ANZ LitLovers), and I recommended he read Staying by Jessie Cole.

Unrelated to the Bookshop, the pic below is of an Elephant Snail (the kids doing the aquatic science course took their parents on an evening rockpool ramble to show off their identification skills). The snail was strangely soft but had a powerful suction. I recommend holding one if you ever get the opportunity (remembering to put it back exactly where you found it!).

16 responses

    • Stupidly I didn’t take any photos inside the store. When I looked at pics online, they didn’t look anything like the store I had been in, so I take it when you say ‘new’ it’s because it has been recently renovated?

      Also, I have since bought The Biographer’s Lover – I have a lot of reading to do before I make my Stella longlist predictions!

      • Yes, I get emails from them (like the ones from Readings) and there was one about how they were moving to new premises but not far away.
        I hope you like it, I thought it was exceptional:)

  1. Sounds lovely, It’s so nice to visit bookshops and have bookish conversations like that.

    What a great opportunity for kids interested in marine biology. That snail is huge (hence the name, I’m guessing!) – I’ve never seen one where the muscle surrounds the shell in that way.

    • It was an impressive snail! The mantle (muscle bit) usually covers the shell to provide camouflage, but of course the shell was revealed when I touched it.

      The camp my son did is amazing – tailored specifically for his age group (15-16yo) and for kids who want a career in aquatic science. I think he enjoyed the activities as much as meeting other kids with the same interests – it’s a unifying experience when someone is as equally excited about rays, sharks and elephant snails as you 🙂

  2. I love small bookshops. I always seem to find more I want in them than ever I do in the big chains. I think I panic in the larger stores and then can’t concentrate on individual books.

  3. Wish I could find some gems like this shop that are in reasonable driving distance. The independents are more interesting because the books they choose to feature are more the owner’s personal interests rather than just which publisher paid the most for the prime spots on the shelf

  4. That’s a great idea, reviewing bookshops. I’d probably go broke. The shelving that most annoys me in shops for new books is the mixing of Australian and international fiction – looking at you Crow Books, Victoria Park, WA – which makes it hard to find particularly YA Australian fiction.

  5. Pingback: Bookish (and not so bookish) Thoughts | booksaremyfavouriteandbest

  6. Pingback: The Biographer’s Lover by Ruby J. Murray | booksaremyfavouriteandbest

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