Wednesday, August 15, 2012


So, I just spent two weeks in Australia! While there I read 4 very different books set in Australia (The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas, The Last Anniversary by Liane Moriarty, The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough, and Eucalyptus by Murray Bail) and of course I went to bookstores! I bought only three books because Wow, are books expensive there! About double what they are in the U.S. Paperbacks are often $25. It certainly made me think that Americans need to quit yer whinin' about book prices because you ain't seen nothing! Back when 60 cents US bought you an Aussie dollar, it was nearly par. But now that it takes $1.05 to buy an Australian dollar, it's painful.

There were a ton of books I wanted to buy - particularly books that I've heard great things about that are publishing in the US this fall, but are already out in paperback in Australia, like Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend by Matthew Dicks (Matthew Green elsewhere), Albert of Adelaide by Howard L. Anderson (wow, I think the Australian book jacket is a million times better than the American one!), and The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman. But, because the paperbacks cost as much as a hardcover back home, I resisted. I only bought books that I thought would be very difficult to find in the States. I ended up buying:

Salvation Creek by Susan Duncan (from Dymock's)
The Dig Tree: The Story of Burke and Wills by Sarah Murgatroyd (from the Wilpena Pound Resort shop)
Mr Stuart's Track: The Forgotten Life Of Australia's Greatest Explorer by John Bailey (from The Raven's Parlour)

They're all nonfiction, two of them history, one a memoir. I was thrilled to find the history ones! Back when I was in Australia in 1986, I read a middle grade book called Cooper's Creek what was about the explorers Burke and Wills who attempted to be the first to cross Australia (South to North) and it was a horrifying and riveting story of brutal circumstances. Around the same time I remember watching a PBS miniseries about the race to the North Pole, and it was similar. So now I can refresh my memory. And the book Mr Stuart's Track is the story of the first successful expedition across Australia. I guess that's a spoiler for The Dig Tree.

The bookstores were also impressive. For one thing, there were so many of them! In Adelaide's Rundle Mall there was a bargain bookstore (in an old Border's!) and a Dymock's. Dymock's is a franchise chain, so I guess the closest American reference would be the Mr. Professor Booksellers. It was a smaller superstore equivalent to about a half-size B&N. The gift shops we visited at museums and state parks were also full of books about Australia, but the best selection was at the independent bookstore, The Raven's Parlour, in the Barossa Valley (wine country!) It was a fairly small store, about half the size of my local indie, but it was super-well curated. I've rarely seen such a terrific selection in such a small location. I could have spent hours there. I picked up a copy of their wonderful multi-page newsletter (it's all recommendations) and Liked them on Facebook! When we were back in Adelaide in the suburb of Glenelg, there were another two bookstores on Jetty Road. Adelaide is not quit twice the size of Charlotte, but it has probably triple the number of bookstores or maybe more, and that's with books at double the price! Although I did notice that all the Australian bookstores' children's sections were much smaller than in any American store.

So I really enjoyed my book shopping in Australia and was very impressed with such a literate country. Want to go back! Hope I don't have to wait another 26 years!

1 comment:

Jo @ Booklover Book Reviews said...

So glad you enjoyed your travels in Australia Carin. Looking forward to your Aussie Author Challenge guest post!