As every book lover knows, you should never judge a book by its cover! Canberra proves this point: contrary to belief, rather than being all about politics, it's a bibliophile's paradise. Canberra has libraries large, small and tiny. Book cafes and book fairs. Independent, second hand and specialty book shops. Whichever you choose, you'll find pages just waiting to be turned. Whether you love the latest pulp fiction or a prized first edition, comics or classics, Canberra is definitely the place to find the next book to add to your 'to-read' list so read on for some inspiration.
Quizzic Alley, an entire shop celebrating all things Harry Potter is right at home in Canberra - with plenty of Potter heads calling the nation's capital home, this place has become a hub for bookish Canberrans. You can pick up Harry Potter books in special editions as well as merchandise, clothing and even Q Brews (Quizic Alley's own take on butterbeer) so shout Alohomora and get yourself inside quick smart!
Enter the wizard if world of Harry Potter at Quizzic Alley
The Royal Botanic Gardens has its very own Botanical Bookshop, a beautiful space stocking an extensive range of books about Australian plants and animals, field guides, botany, gardening, environment, history and kids books. There is so much inspiration if you love growing plants and sustainable living and also some great local garden guides in stock. As an added bonus, are short stay free parking spaces if you only want to visit the book shop rather than the gardens.
The Canberra Lifeline Book Fair is book shopping on a 'warehouse huge' scale. Held three times each year, there are tens of thousands of titles all looking for a second chance. The books are pre-loved but great quality and the range of titles is astounding. Grab a map (yes, it's SO big you need a map) when you arrive to find out where each type of book is located then start hunting! While arranged by subject matter, books aren't alphabetically arranged so allow plenty of time to find the hidden treasures. The book fair also has a collector's room with valuable and rare books so be sure to check that out too. People were wheeling suitcase loads back to the carpark so go prepared!
The National Library (and all of Canberra's local libraries)
Canberra is home to ten local libraries and despite fears of redundancy in the digital age,, they have managed to stay relevant. Offering not only books but also serving as a meeting place and providing internet access, storytime, language classes and book readings, libraries are a regular go-to for Canberra's families.
Not content to stop at that, Canberra is home to the mother of all libraries, the National Library of Australia. The National Library is a treasure trove of precious books, maps, and documents (over ten million items in total!) as well as offering regular exhibitions. It is also home to an amazing book shop specialising in Australian fiction, non-fiction and children's literature.
Canberra's Street Libraries
These tiny, hyper-local libraries are the book community at its best: anyone can set one up and the aim is to build a little bit of community through the swapping of books. If you visit a street library you can take a book or leave a book (or why not both?). Canberra's street libraries number over 50 and come in all shapes and sizes - there are repurposed fridges, fish tanks and even a tardis library waiting to be discovered. To find out where Canberra's street libraries are, there are some details here.
Books, like readers, are all different. If comics and graphic novels are your thing, Impact Comics is one of Australia's largest comics retailers stocking comics, graphic novels and more. And if you're comic-curious, there's an annual Free Comic Book Day at Impact so you can see if comics are for you.
Muse is the perfect combination of a top-notch café and a bookseller offering curated new and second-hand books. Muse also hosts regular events featuring writers, thinkers, politicians, artists and winemakers (books AND wine - eek!!). If you dream of a place where both literary and culinary pleasures are a perfect pair just begging to be devoured, get to Muse NOW!
Paperchain is one of Canberra's most loved independent book stores. It's been on the scene since 1982 and the staff here LOVE books. As well as having a diverse range of titles in stock, Paperchain will also play book detective if there is a hard to find title you're looking for. Another plus? Paperchain stays open late most nights so it's perfect if you need to get your book fix out of hours!
Beyond Q is a second-hand bookstore boasting four kilometres of shelf space jam-packed with every genre you can imagine. But as well as that, Beyond Q is a café and hosts music and poetry events on-site. Stock is constantly changing so regular browsing is recommended to make sure you don't miss the new arrivals.
Book Lore is the quintessential suburban bookshop, a feature of Canberra's inner north for thirty years. With over 20000 titles to choose from and a cosy space to take your time browsing, a visit to Book Lore is a must is you love books or book shops.
This list is far from complete - there really are so many amazing spaces for book lovers in Canberra just waiting to be discovered but hopefully, the featured places provide some inspiration to find your next story. Happy reading!