Stuff.co.nz - 25/07/2012
There is just something about a printed book, the cover binding together pages that promise mystery, magic and potential life lessons.
You just don't get the same effect from a Kindle, PC or tablet - though they have their place. A whole generation of younger readers now will be raised on e-books, and that's fine too. Anything, as long as people keep letting themselves be swept away by the perfection of a tale well told.
I hope there will always be a place for physical bookstores, though. They are places of wonder and fantasy, a Narnia for children and grown-ups who are transported by reading into other places, other lives. This year is so busy that I've had little time to meander into my favourite bookstores, but there's no time like deepest winter to start again.
Winter is the perfect season for browsing through drowsy little shops with weird corners and angles, unearthing a literary gem and enjoying it later at home with a cup of hot chocolate.
Here are a few bookstores around Auckland that I love. Add your own tips on other amazing stores around the country, so I know where to go next time I hanker for some soul food when out of town.
Time Out Bookstore
This is the only bookstore I know of that's open till 9pm, every night of the week. Now that's dedication! It's the perfect place to go for gifts, either for a friend or to treat yourself, as they carry such a great selection of titles - from fiction, art and children's books to hobbies, gardening and graphic novels. The owner and her staff are real bookaholics and are often happy to recommend titles or just chat about a title that's piqued your interest. It's also a generous place, as they let out their upstairs space free to reading groups.
Dorothy Butler Children's Bookshop
I just love soaking up the candy colours and décor of this place, which I imagine must be like crack for kids. There are picture books everywhere and books for older children and young adults. Whenever I walk in, I'm tempted to act as though I'm a kid again and run wild between the bookshelves - and some littlies do.
Chapter: Books. Cafe. Tea
Just round the corner from Time Out is another bookstore that I love visiting for the atmosphere. Chapter specialises in romance novels, encompassing your classic Virginia Andrews to contemporary, fantasy, futuristic, historical and regency romances. I come here mostly for the tea, of which there is an awe-inspiring medley. The last time I dropped in, I ended up spending $40 on tea leaves. I'm not a huge fan of romance, but there's a small selection of mainstream fiction here too. Apparently the bestselling authors are Nora Roberts and, more recently, Nalini Singh.
Gone West Books
Murray Gray is a legend around Titirangi and the founder of the Going West Books & Writers Festival - he pinched the name off a Maurice Gee book. The store specialises in NZ literature and hard-to-find titles. Readers will find it worthwhile going in just to talk to Murray - the guy is fascinating, and has an encyclopaedic knowledge of NZ books, particularly those with a West Auckland bent. Murray takes pride in selling his "slightly used" books, and even though they're second-hand, they're as well preserved as anything brand new and twice or three times the price