Within a few hours of arriving at my friend Sasha’s apartment in Sydney, one of the city magazines on her coffee table had an article about a cafe-bookstore crawl and listed five or so places around the city and being the book lovers that we are, we were determined to crawl. Yes, we do cafe-bookstore crawls and not pub crawls.
We actually ended up making it to only two spots on the list but I loved them both. The first in Bondi Beach, Gertrude & Alice, was my favorite of the two. It was small with books lining the walls from floor to ceiling with tables and chairs and sofas in between for friends to meet and talk and a cafe at the front served coffee, pastries, and sandwiches.
Sasha and I had spent the day on the Bondi to Coogee Beach coastal walk and were exhausted and so it was a treat to sit at one of the tables for an hour sipping coffee, sharing a warm brownie, and browsing the books around us. I bought a copy of My First New York, because I’ve decided I want to start collecting books from bookstores I visit around the world.
The second bookshop I visited was Sappho Books, Cafe & Wine Bar in Glebe, a suburb of Sydney. It felt like a home with two floors and multiple rooms on the second floor, one for children’s books, one for sheet music, and one for historical titles. The bottom floor was like any other bookstore and in the back was a garden patio for cafe diners.
Even though I only crawled to two cafe-bookstores in Sydney, I was amazed by how many bookshops sans cafe I passed as I walked around the different neighborhoods in the city. When I explored Glebe, I must have stopped by three or four bookstores within a few blocks of each other and it is pretty much the same in other neighborhoods in Sydney. It was so encouraging to see when so many bookstores are disappearing in the U.S. and I just hope that the ones in Sydney stick around for a while because I love how they serve as a place for people to meet and discuss not only books but issues, ideas, and opinions or in the case of Sasha and I, a place to spend time together and to simply indulge our love of books.