“A good bookshop is just a genteel Black Hole that knows how to read.” – Terry Pratchett Guards Guards
Don’t you just love those old book shops, the second hand kind where old shelves bow under the weight of paper and years, forming dark corridors of promise and reading adventure. They are becoming a bit of rarity in this the digital age but thankfully they can still be found. Just thought I would share one of my semi-local and one of my all time favourite bookshops. It seems appropriate, since travel itself is a bit restricted and the pandemic has reduced most of us to arm chair travel at the moment, (not a bad thing), and a good book will never go a miss.
If you are in Queensland and looking for a good book or two you could do worse than to venture into Archives Fine Books on Charlotte St in the heart of Brisbane. Archives is a bit of a local institution, it has been around for as long as I can remember but it is a bit of a hidden treasure if you are not a local or familiar with the second hand book trade. Located in a heritage listed building, the John Mills Himself building at 40 Charlotte St, the unassuming entry gives no indication of the treasure within. And treasure there indeed is within these old brick walls and dark windows.
Walk through Archives’ door and you really do enter another world, an adventure in itself. I always think of Pratchett’s description of such places whenever I enter Archives:
“The truth is that even big collections of ordinary books distort space, as can readily be proved by anyone who has been around a really old-fashioned secondhand bookshop, one that looks as though they were designed by M. Escher on a bad day and has more stairways than storeys and those rows of shelves which end in little doors that are surely too small for a full-sized human to enter. The relevant equation is: Knowledge = power = energy = matter = mass; a good bookshop is just a genteel Black Hole that knows how to read.” – Terry Pratchett Guards Guards.
But just when you think you have seen it all, you discover a small staircase at the back that leads up into a light filled room and even more books and sheet music. Archives is undeniably Tardis like in the way that such a small doorway leads into a universe of books, it is very definitely; “bigger on the inside” . I never get tired of visiting Archives and it is always my first port of call if looking for an older or out print text but to be honest I never really need an excuse to visit Archives, I love to visit and wander the dusty alleys of shelves and breathe the hallowed scent of wisdom past. This is a magical place.
The big bonus of a visit to Archives is the fact that you can follow up Archives with a visit to the Pancake Manor just a few steps up Charlotte St and located in an old church. Perfect spot to take your Archives purchases and peruse them over a cup of coffee and a short stack, just watch out for the maple syrup or you might end up with a bit of a sticky text.
I love the Pancake Manor in Charlotte St almost as much as Archives and like Archives, a visit here can feel like an epic adventure, once you step into the dark cavernous interior you are world’s away from the city and life outside. The pancakes are a bonus. I have tried pancake Manors is several locations in Australia but without question this one is the best, not just for the food but for the atmosphere and a visit here after Archives makes a visit to Charlotte St complete.