Like many avid readers, I like to find a bookshop with soul. I fit into that category that will pay a bit more for a book from a charming independent bookshop rather than the same book at discount from a big chain. Although I'm not adverse to special offers or buying online.
Whenever I go to a new place, I am always on the lookout for bookshops that are warm, inviting, interesting and cosy. The kind of places that I can linger for hours and immerse myself in the worlds of literature, photography, design and travel.
On my travels I've discovered a few such bookshops that live in my memory. Nomad Books on Fulham Rd was one of my favourite local places when I lived in London. It has armchairs, a cafe and a big downstairs room with a huge table and chairs where many a winter weekend afternoon was spent researching the next trip and stocking up on travel guides (although the travel section has sadly since moved upstairs). Robinson Crusoe books in Istanbul is another bookshop that captured my imagination with its dark wood-panelled shelves and a range of fascinating titles. And you can't be a true Melbournian without being in love with Readings in Carlton - a stalwart of the city's literary circle and a favourite evening or weekend browsing and buying place.
I now have another bookshop to add my favourites. It's in a little town called Talbot about 50 minutes' drive from Ballarat. It's one of those gold-rush towns where the main street looks like it should be a western movie set. In its goldrush heyday it had 30,000 people and now it has 340! Talbot is becoming very trendy and has a lovely cafe called London House, a new little homewares store called A Life Less Ordinary, and a really great monthly farmer's market. The bookshop is called Slightly Bent Books. It's lit by lamps, has big armchairs and a couch, a woodfire, a globe, a Moroccan lantern in the window and loads of new and second-hand books. It's one of those places where you pick one book off the shelf and there's another five or six gems in the same genre hiding behind. A book lover's bookshop.
If you are in the Ballarat or Talbot region on 1st and 2nd May, the town of Clunes is holding their annual book fair.