In Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley, tucked away on Winn Lane, a little booth of a bookshop has sprouted. A bookshop owner is a curator, and a good bookshop is a thoughtful composition of literary gems—a museum of words, carefully collected and arranged. Its walls are lined with the types of things you read, and some others that surprise and stretch you.
I’m a long-time lover of bookshops, and have idled away many an hour lusting after books, and many more reading them. (My reading has recently exploded completely out of control, but we shall not speak of this). As a child I was constantly berated for reading at inappropriate times and places. So it’s with great pleasure that I introduce to you Siân Williams, owner of Atavist Books on Winn Lane–a completely appropriate place in which to read and / or lust over books.
Atavist has a respectable wall of classics, a solid Australian writers’ section, a good dose of seventies crafts and a beautifully married wall of romance and crime novels. Siân’s collection is tight and sure of itself, and doesn’t try to be everything to everyone. And Siân herself is the very antithesis of Bernard Black—she’s laid back, ready for a pleasant chat and brimming with book recommendations. Her books are all carefully prepared, their page edges cleaned up and their paperback covers massaged with eucalyptus oil. When it comes time for her to part with one of her treasures, she sends it off to its new home with a ceremonial stamp proudly proclaiming ‘Atavist Books’ a part of its history. Atavist is, to my mind, the baby sister of the rambling secondhand bookstores of Edinburgh—equally full of character, equally inviting, equally well-priced, and smaller only in stature.
I pestered the amiable Siân about her reading habits.
Now reading: The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides.
Top 5 best authors: Of all genres!? Too hard! I guess I can say that some authors I never pass up are Knut Hamsun, Carson McCullers, Johnathan Safran Foer, Don Delillo and John Pilger.
Best reading drink: anything with a cocktail umbrella in it.
Most influential book in childhood: Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes.
Best place to read: On the bus! Multi-tasker!
Tight plot vs meandering narrative: Meandering.
Fictional crush: ergh. Toughie. I can’t think of anyone off the top of my head so let’s just say my stone cold heart is up for grabs. Actually let’s say Atticus Finch. He’s an upstanding gent.
And guess what? You can pick up a pack of these little babies at Atavist too! Opening days and hours are Tuesday to Friday 10am – 5pm; Saturday 9am – 5pm; Sunday 10am – 4pm.
My Infernal Dishes tea towels have been getting about town, too, and you might spot them down in Salisbury at Apples on Ainsworth, where you can pick up a decadently wholesome $15 weekend breakfast full of seasonal produce and the most haloumi cheese ever seen on one plate.