I've been itching to write this post for the past week or so. If you are one of the few who follow my twitter feed then you would have noticed that my partner and I recently had our first trip away since the birth of our daughter. To say it felt weird leaving her behind with family is an understatement, but it was a good opportunity to go and have a couple of days RnR in Canberra and do some things that aren't possible with little kids (such as the simple pleasure of going out to dinner and seeing a late movie afterwards).
We both enjoyed our adventure, but it was our visit to a bookstore that arguably was the highlight of the trip. Canty's Bookshop is an ACT institution. In 2014 BuzzFeed listed it as one of the 17 book bookshops in Australia that you should visit before you die. And after spending almost 5 hours of bliss in there I can safely say BuzzFeed was right. Tucked away in the suburb of Fyshwick, Canty's storefront is as unassuming as you can get. In fact it looks more like the frontage of an appliance outlet store then one of Australia's premier used bookshops. It's only after you enter that the magic of the place unfolds before your very eyes. Books, literally tens of thousands of them stacked from floor to roof, greet you. And nestled next to the cash register and surrounded by piles of more books and a warm beverage is Luke Canty, one of the most gentle and charming hosts I've ever stumbled across in a bookstore. He made my partner and I feel like we were browsing our shelves at home, and never once hassled us as we settled into his store for the long haul of unearthing treasures everywhere we looked. It was an amazing experience, and both my partner and I had to return to the car to retrieve bags to carry our hauls in.
A quick run down of my haul included books on military history, sports biographies, gardening, and naturally fantasy and science fiction. I was able to pick up an entire set of the Harry Potter books in mint condition for $30 to gift to my daughter when she is a little older, and I managed to score titles by Adrian Tchaikovsky, Adam Roberts, Jim Butcher and many more to add to my overflowing collection here at home. But it was an experience I had whilst browsing over the SF/F titles that blew me away and restored my faith in humanity.
Before I go on some context. Where I live I don't see many kids reading, or showing that much interest in reading for that matter. The local library is small, and when I notice kids in there they mainly are on the computers playing games rather then borrowing books. There is no bookstore in town either, and the nearest one outside of town is an hour away by car. So when I heard the following squeal from the people next to me my curiosity was piqued...
"KATE FORSYTH! OH MY GOD... THE POOL OF TWO MOONS! MUM! MUM! CAN I GET IT!?!"
I peeked out of the corner of my eye, and I saw a mother and her young daughter browsing the SF/F section alongside me. The girl was bouncing up and down in excitement, and her mother was smiling broadly as she took the book down from the shelf and added it to the basket they were carrying.
"Thanks so much mum! I love Kate Forsyth.. I wonder if they ha... OH MY GOD... OH MY GOD... THE RHIANNON'S RIDE SERIES!!!!!!!"
And on it went for the best part of 15 minutes. The daughter would find a book she had heard about or author whose work she loved, and she would let out a squeal of delight and infectious excitement that just restored my faith in humanity. My partner had wandered to my side by this time, and we just were struck at how passionate this young girl was about books and reading. It really made us both feel good, and it was a random event that really drove home for us the importance of giving our daughter the opportunity to share our passion for books and reading as well.
As we left I noticed the mother and daughter pair snuggled together on one of Canty's numerous couches reading the afternoon away. It is my hope that one day I will see something like this where I live.
Faith in humanity restored... and parenting done right!