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February 24, 2014 | by  | in Arts Books |
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Best Bookish Spots

Arty Bees – 106 Manners St Arty Bees is our pride and joy. Sit cross-legged on the floor between packed shelves of Mills & Boon, leather-bound literature, screenplays, travel books, or every imaginable sci-fi series. Unearth old copies of I-Spy or Animorphs or The Saddle Club from the children’s section. Listen to jazz upstairs by the antiquarian books. Camp out on the sofa next to poetry anthologies and museum catalogues. Come away with lots: a dog-eared, disintegrating paperback will set you back $6 or $7.

Quilters Bookshop – 35 Ghuznee St Quilters is smaller and darker than Arty Bees. But there’s an adjoining café, and you’ll find more interesting non-fiction and New Zealand literature than genre fiction. Mr Quilter’s preferred soundtrack is National Radio. Get comfy on a spindly wooden chair at the back of the shop where there are no windows. With serious patience and perseverance, tackle the massive pile of paperbacks on the bargain table. There are $5 treasures to be found.

Pegasus Books Bouquinerie – 204a Left Bank, Cuba Mall Pegasus is tucked away in a dark corner where slightly scary people hang out. It took years for me to discover it – and once I did, I knew I’d found the one. Lose track of time inside its cosy, cluttered rooms. There are stands helpfully labelled “BOOKS EVERYONE SHOULD READ”, a room full of literary fiction stacked to the ceiling, a jar of lollies by the front door, and a shelf devoted entirely to Beat poetry. Books on the bargain table are around $5 but real gems will cost you $10–15.

Unity Books – 57 Willis St Unity is a place of beauty and sadness. Almost every book you want (need) is probably around $30. Hover over their alluring centre table of brand-new New Zealand fiction; linger over glossy full-colour cookbooks in their great cooking section. Their young-adult section is particularly great. You leave considerably poorer, but so much happier.

Vic Books – Kelburn Campus & Pipitea Campus Vic Books has a wonderful collection of New Zealand and international fiction, non-fiction, children’s books, art books, cookbooks – not to mention all the pretty stationery. It’s the best place to spend ten minutes between lectures, though you’ll accidentally come away with half your course-related costs evaporated into thin air. Take a minute to have a look at the shelf devoted to new titles from our very own Victoria University Press.



Writers from New Zealand and all over the world are coming to Wellington from 7–12 March for Writers Week, part of the 2014 New Zealand Festival. See for more info.

Writers Under the Stars: Sunday 9 March, Carter Observatory Man Booker winner Eleanor Catton, poet Robert Sullivan, and science writer Marcus Chown talk about their astronomical influences in a place where you can pinpoint constellations and ponder the universe.

2014 New Zealand Book Council Lecture: Eleanor Catton: Monday 10 March, Embassy Theatre This annual lecture has a different theme each year. Eleanor Catton’s talk will be about how change manifests itself in fiction, and it’s bound to be unmissable.

Jung Chang: Saturday 8 March, Embassy Theatre Chinese/British historian Jung Chang is best known for her seminal autobiography Wild Swans about the Cultural Revolution. Hear her talk about her radical new book, Empress Dowager Cixi: The Concubine Who Launched Modern China.

Kei Reira Ngā Weriweri: Sunday 9 March, Hannah Playhouse A captivating storytelling event for kids and grown-ups alike. Put your te reo skills to the test and listen to a Māori reading of Where the Wild Things Are.

The Exercise Book Live: Friday 7 March, Hannah Playhouse Poet James Brown joins students of Victoria’s International Institute of Modern Letters in an interactive session based on The Exercise Book, a book of thought-provoking creative-writing exercises released by Victoria University Press.

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