Although bad weather and moments of boredom have meant only one thing to Sydney recently (we’re looking at you, Netflix), there’s another epic way to pass the time indoors. Guilt-free nights, curled up on the couch indulging in a literary delight. Books. We’re talking about real, live, actual books.
For those of you who are less inclined to the tablet ways of the future and more interested in the nostalgia and challenge of a good old paperback, this line-up is absolutely for you.
Here are the best book shops in Sydney.
Ampersand Café And Bookstore
If you're looking for a quaint spot to load up on pre-loved books and housemade chai, look no further than Ampersand Cafe. This three-storey building is full of cosy nooks, fresh coffee, plush red velvet armchairs and should absolutely be your go-to for chilled weekend vibes. Sprawled across the levels, you'll find books to read and buy and a cafe menu packed with snacks and heftier bites. You'll definitely want to hit their fudgy brownie made with housemade almond meal or the French toast stack topped with poached pear, whipped ricotta, passionfruit, rhubarb compote, berries and almond crumble.
Elizabeth's Bookshop is for those who love to read, and would quite happily date their reads too. This pre-loved bookshop has so much love for books you can get a "blind date with a book" , which is a lucky dip of sorts that pairs perfectly with the couch and a glass of wine. The blackboard outside often offers sage advice from the well-read team within. For food lovers, there is a pretty good selection of cookbooks, but we'd suggest meandering further into the depths of this shop—you can get in deeper than you think!
Sappho Books Café & Bar
Ever heard of a book store that offers up plates of tapas and glasses of vino with their reads? Well, Sappho Books Café & Bar have made that a reality. This second-hand store features a beautiful courtyard that transforms into a tapas bar when the sun sets. Order up a cheese board and pick up that rare copy of a Virginia Woolf novel.
Boasting one of the largest collections of titles in Sydney, Kinokuniya certainly earns its spot on our hit-list of Sydney's best bookstores. Escape the hustle and bustle of the CBD with its extensive catalogue of Japanese, French, Chinese, German and English publications, which you can devour in the store's cute café. Be sure to check out Kinokuniya's in-store art space, The Wedge Gallery, which showcases works from local and international up-and-coming artists.
One step into this cosy, light-filled space in Surry Hills and you’ll feel instantly at home. It’s an internationally renowned bookshop specializing in rare reads, manuscripts and paintings. On an entire level of a converted warehouse, this gem has an extensive stock of rare and select material which specializes in voyages and travels (with a special interest in the Pacific & Australia), natural history and colour-plate material, paintings and voyage art, historical maps and manuscripts.
Love Vintage Books
It’s pretty damn easy to fall down the rabbit hole at Love Vintage Books. Here, you can expect a ridiculous collection of rare and out-of-print books covering transport, military, history, travel, art and architecture, Australiana and modern and nostalgic literature.
One of the more mainstream bookstores that are slowly giving Dymocks a run for their money is Berkelouw Books. With locations all around Sydney and over two million books both old and new in stock, you won’t be strapped for choices here. These guys have stood strong since 1812, so they won’t be going away any time soon.
Gertrude & Alice Café
If you’re spending the day strolling around Bondi Beach and want to escape the tourists, head indoors into the Gertrude & Alice Café Bookstore. Books are strung out everywhere, on the tables, walls, floor and most importantly, in your hands. Grab a cup of coffee and a small pastry or try a herbal tea from their giant selection.
Better Read Than Dead
Given the title of “Sydney’s Favourite Bookstore” by Lonely Planet, you better believe that is one you need to hit up as soon as possible. This store has been up and running since 1996 and the owners are extremely knowledgeable regarding any book inside. Peruse the stands and flip through hundreds of titles so you can find the perfect read.
For all things vintage, it’s a must to head into Grand Days. With a vast selection of vinyl records, threads and books, you’ll be wondering where to start. This little nook in Woolloomooloo, brings along the history of literature and music to all customers with its vast collections. Get ready to stumble upon a piece of history.
Desire Books And Records
Only a short walk up the road from Manly Wharf stands Desire Books. A family store that stocks nothing short of all genres of books and vinyl records. These folks keep the creativity alive in the air with a slew of events. You can check out movie nights, open mic nights, writer’s workshops, artist talks and book signings. Go on and catch that ferry over, you know you want to.
The Best Little Bookshop In Town
In case you’re fresh out of the surf at Cronulla, you might want to hit up The Best Little Bookshop in Town. Ringing true to that name, you’ll be able to sit for hours in their cosy nooks, browsing through thrillers, biographies, fiction and even cooking books. Good luck narrowing down what to buy.
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Image credit: Ampersand Cafe & Bookstore.