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Thursday, 15 November 2012

Gertrude and Alice Cafe Bookstore

This post is inspired by Peter's post today over at Kyusireader. It's a very typically Peter-type post that asks a question that many book junkies I know have probably thought, but possibly haven't voiced - why do restaurants not have bookcases and books as part of their decor? Go read the post - he raises some very good reasons as to why this lack should be rectified.

I'm being a wee bit deliberately provocative with this post...there have been a number of posts I've written that have generated comments from Peter about getting on a plane and making his way to Sydney - to steal my vintage Wyndhams, or stock up on the new Penguin release of Aussie celebrity cookbooks in vintage orange bindings, and the like. So, when you read this, my bibliophile blogger friend, you might just have all the confirmation you need to go book that ticket...

Aaah...reading carefully now?

One of my favourite haunts in Bondi is Gertrude and Alice Cafe Bookstore. This is a bookstore - secondhand - and cafe combined. Everything from excellent coffee, lovely scented teas and cold drinks, to a glass of wine if you're so disposed. And if you're hungry; salads, cakes, cookies and all sorts of other goodies. And...books. Oodles and oodles of books. I've found some marvelous treasures there over the time I've been back in town.

The place is a bit mad - it's a regular shopfront on a busy street leading to one of the country's most iconic beaches. Inside, it's crammed with bookcases - the cafe staff have a small but efficient corner right at the front. When you place your order, you're given a table number, and then it's a matter of wending your way around the spaces created by the bookcases to find a share table surrounded by an eclectic mix of benches and chairs, or perhaps a cosy couch with a coffee table. Shopping/dining solo? Hunt out one of the many armchairs tucked away in corners with little side tables...

Clicking on the name of the shop a couple of paragraphs up will take you to their website, but here are a few photos to whet the appetite for all they have to offer, culinarily and literarily!



Just let me know when I can expect you Peter...seems like a good place to meet face to face, nu? Any other book junkies coming to Sydney or living here already, please take that as an extended invitation!

10 comments:

  1. Kaz, I die!

    I think I can literally spend hours and hours at that cafe! I think the owners would have to throw me out!

    Okay, I am now really saving up for a trip down under. Many thanks for this post, Kaz! I sure wish that we have this kind of establishment in Manila.

    By the way, I'll edit my blog post so that I can link it to this post.

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    1. Happily, the staff totally understand that kind of 'move in and stay forever' phenomena. I have, at times, tucked into an armchair for quite some time...they're not even too fussed if you don't walk out with a stack of books - although, they're rather more pleased when you do!

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  2. Kaz, I remember something that is somewhat related to this. When I was in vacation with my partner in Boracay a few years ago, I had coffee at a quaint cafe right in front of the beach. During that time, my partner usually woke up late. Being the early riser that I am (I wake up every day at 4 am even on weekends), I decided to check out the cafes and get me some caffeine.

    Anyway, the cafe that I went to was run by a lady expat. I believe she was American, and she was spending her retirement years in the island. I was happy to find out that she had a shelf full of books in her cafe! I grabbed Zadie Smith's debut novel White Teeth. I so enjoyed the book very much that I didn't notice that 2 hours had already gone. I asked the lady if I can buy the book. At first, she was a bit hesitant of letting the book go, but I managed to convince her to sell it to me!

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    1. That's very funny!

      I have White Teeth. Haven't read it for ages. Good friends of mine gave me her second novel the title of which escapes me for the minute... Oh for the days when I have ALL my books in one place again and the ones that are languishing in storage can be reinstated onto shelves!

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  3. What an AMAZING shop! It looks like a fantastic place to spend an afternoon or two...Sadly Sidney is on the other side of the World from South Florida!
    M.C.V. Egan

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    1. Hi there!

      Welcome to my blog.

      I have the great good fortune to be within walking distance to this place. And with all the chat that's generated since this post, methinks I may need to take a wander down there this afternoon!

      K

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  4. What an awesome bookshop/cafe I wish we had something like that locally. Sometimes I fantasise about owning an eclectic bookshop that sells both new and second-hand books, supporting local artists and giving them space to exhibit and sell as well as local musicians. I know lots of students who could use the support. All combined with a coffee shop, the kind of place I would love to frequent, I know I would never do it but it is nice to dream.

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    1. Thing is, Arabella, it's just not that hard to do... I must look into the history of this shop - it's the last of a string of them, and G-d forbid they should close down. But, given you can pretty much guarantee that once most people come through the doors of a bookstore, they're going to be there for a while, it just seems to me to make sense to offer them the incentive to stay longer.

      Maybe it's just too obvious...!

      K

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  5. Last time I was in Monterey there was a bookstore that had a cafe on the terrace. The idea was that you bought your books, and could then take them out there and read with your meal; sorry, no browsing. Most of the B&Ns here have a Starbucks in the store, but sadly, you don't see much of this here. The big corporate chains have pretty much run Mom and Pop out of the trade, and the business of harvesting money is altogether too serious to be muddled with this sort of frippery...

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    1. Hullooo Jack - good to hear from you!

      Up at our local humungous mall, we had a Borders store (now since defunct) and that had a Gloria Jeans attached - like your Starbucks/B&N combo. I have to say, I rarely stopped there for coffee. For starters, it was just an add on and the coffee was also not great.

      This place is like walking into someone's house. Part of that is that it is a secondhand bookstore, but it's also set up so that you're IN among the books...there is no separation between the two parts of the store.

      Clever.

      K

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