Tag Archives: books

The Op-Shop Around the Corner

That’s me – the blue Huggies box, slightly dented. Or, more accurately, that’s my contribution. Inside are old baby clothes, a few toys, unwanted gifts, a pair of velvet tights (no longer tight enough), and some scraps from a relationship best forgotten. All destined for the shelves of St. Martin’s Op Shop in Kensington.

Then there’s you. Perhaps you are the person who stops to admire the hand-painted kangaroo paw adorning the doorway. Or are you the person who glances at the display window – some quirky crockery, some fine pieces of bone china – as you trot past on your morning jog? The shop is open between 9am and 2pm, so you can always come back, takeaway coffee in hand, for a browse. Fossicking, my friend Alana calls it. She’d have a field day with bargain buys here. Yes, this shop demands a mixing of metaphors.

You could be like me – the contributor of the Huggies box. I come, toddler in hand, on a quest for for cheap toys and old books at the bookshop next door. The shopkeeper is a Phyllida Law look-alike, complete with bun atop her head. The day is cold, but her breezy welcome is warm. Some books are not quite so old and some are not quite so easy to find at Dymocks. It’s a real thrill to discover old Enid Blyton editions and the latest Philippa Gregory. Oh no, wait that came out of last month’s Huggies box. No wonder it looks so familiar!

Then again, you could be like my son – keenly appreciative of the ancient ceiling fan that sweeps its blades across the ceiling. Delighted to see an activity cube sitting next to the dolls house. Ecstatic on finding Maisy Mouse in the shelves. I believe we’ve made our choice for this week.

We’ll come again, of course, when the next box is full. It’s not so hard to find St. Martin’s – just off Canning Highway, just behind the church. Just the op-shop around the corner of Vista St and Brandon, offering a cheery welcome, some grandmotherly wisdom, and often a far better bargain than any Good Sammy’s or Salvo’s I’ve been to. Come and have a look. You may even find me there of a Saturday – toddler in hand and Huggies box tucked under my arm.



The Twilight of Books

Last month, some Australian school libraries banned the Twilight series from their shelves. The books were “too sexual” and irreligious. All the fuss prompted me to watch the movie – finally. I also went into the city to see if the ban had hit the bookshops as well. The Twilight experience was quite illuminating.

First of all, it’s ridiculously expensive to buy books in Perth. So although Stephanie Meyer’s latest was on proud display beside Dan Brown’s Lost Symbol, the whole effect was, well, lost on me. I simply browsed my way through the store, mentally calculating what I could buy for 30 dollars back home. You can buy two breakfasts at the Taj Hotel in Mumbai for the price of a book in Oz. Not that I would have wasted money on Twilight, in any case – apologies to the fans.

Indeed, there seems to be something of a twilight of books here. Bookshops are few – either a Dymocks or an Angus & Robertson. There are second-hand bookstores in Guildford, and the op-shops are good for a cheap read. Although with the latter, it must be said that if a book has been donated to an op-shop, it’s there because it wasn’t worth finishing. Still, it seems to me that people aren’t interested in reading these days. I’ve never felt so depressed in bookshops as I have here. If the prices don’t get me down, the impossibility of finding my favourite authors does.

As for Twilight, the movie…anaemic-looking vampires just don’t do it for me. My flatmate has seen the movie five times. Still trying to work that one out. Personally, I feel it’s a great pity that Robert Pattinson, who was perfectly dishy in Harry Potter, looks duller than dishwater as Edward Cullen. Edward Sullen would be more like it.

Still, Twilight seems to be the flavour of the year. In the past six months, I’ve been invited to a Twilight-themed party, watched numerous news stories about the actors, and used bits of the film as an example while teaching. Needless to say, my students were thrilled.

As for me, I did what every self-respecting girl does when she’s in trouble – I called my mother in India.

“I’ve run out of good books to read,” I said.

“I’ll send you one in the mail,” she replied.

Definitely the cheapest option.