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Mary Ryan's Bookstore is a literary institution in Brisbane having first opened its doors in 1975. This makes it one of the oldest and longest running independent booksellers in South East Queensland. Add to that the privilege of being The Australian Bookseller of the Year 2004 and you get the feeling that they know a thing or two about books.
I visited this iconic bookseller's Milton store, which is located in the trendy, flavourful café and dining strip of Park Road, just a short stroll up the hill from Brisbane's own mini Eiffel Tower above the La Dolce Vita cafe.
I stepped into shop past its outdoor, covered patio which has the look and feel of a gazebo complete with heavy plastic blinds to protect visitors from the rain. Past the potted palms, enticing coffee cart and the revolving stand with heritage photos of Brisbane buildings and my Mary Ryan's experience had begun.
Part of Mary Ryan's mission is to "create a home away from home, where you and your friends and family can enjoy: good company, delicious food and drinks, and great entertainment." I was keen to do all these things.
Books, Books, Books I made a beeline to the books. Heavy brown wooden bookshelves were neatly filled with lots of new releases. Comfy couches and tables with copies of the Good Book Guide offer visitors a place to sit for a moment and enjoy the books. There's no need to rush your selection. Live with it for a moment.
Titles devoted to glorious gardens, appetising cuisine and cooking, and inspiring coffee table reads were hard to resist scooping up and exploring for a few moments.The A-Z of fiction section with stories of imagined characters sat beside rea life autobiographies.
My favourite area was the children's section with their whimsical characters and playful titles. Such fun
Join a book group
Mary Ryan's also offers several book groups running in their store where members can discuss their favouriite books as well as snap up a $5 Coffee and Cake deal and a storewide 10% discount for all the book groups. The book groups meet each Thursday at 8:00AM. Also keep a look out for literary events, such as book launches to meet the authors and discuss a topic in more detail.
Purchase a gift for you or a friend Moving my way around the circular seeming store, I found tables of companion gifts – soft cushions, pretty parasols, coffee mugs. Great for that last minute present. There were even unique sheets of wrapping paper to cover a gift for you or someone else.
Stop by the Cafe After making my book and gift selection,(yes I couldn't resist both) it was time to sit down enjoy a hot cup of chai and a flaky croissant, and take a closer look through my buys. As well as the outdoor area with the mobile coffee cart, Mary Ryan's also has an indoor café ensuring that the tempting waft of Merlo coffee dances throughout the shop.
When I looked up to the back of the store, the unexpected surprise of my visit was learning that Mary Ryan's Milton also includes a local Post Office in store with PO Boxes outside. Post a letter, buy some packaging or send a gift (that you may have purchased instore), it's all easy.
Milton is located a handy 2kms from the CBD and Mary Ryan's is very accessible via car, train, bus or ferry. Street parking (some of which is metered) is available in Park Road and surrounding streets.
While I admit I went to Mary Ryan's looking for books, I surprisingly found so much more. Yes, it is a bookselling chain, but it hasn't lost the intimacy of friendly service and a vast and unique collection that only a good book seller can bring. The local feel and engaging surrounds reduces any impression of mass repetition, only warm individuality that leaves you wanting to stay longer.