→ Alice Wilson
629 Rathdowne Street, Carlton North, VIC
Alice’s Bookshop in Carlton North is more than just a bookshop—it’s a booklover’s dream. One of those places you could spend an entire weekend afternoon lost wandering. And I’m not just a fan because we share the same name.
The interior of the red-terraced building is practically bricked with books. Though they stock all the usual classics and contemporaries, along with a healthy selection of art and poetry, the true specialty of Alice’s Bookshop is in second-hand and rare books. Amongst the cramped shelves of typical genres like travel, history and cooking you can expect to find obscure titles like Bookshops of Sydney. But there are also shelves devoted to rare, beautifully bound first editions—Aboriginal culture, genetics, climate science, theology, and literature from France, Russia, Italy and Spain.
There are books for writers too: books on grammar, writing advice by other writers, style guides and a plethora of dictionaries and style guides that range across the decades.
Alice’s Bookshop is mazelike, with four rooms and narrow corridors where books threaten to spill from their shelves and are stacked across every available surface—‘it’s like a rubik's cube’ the owner tells me. Stepping into one of these rooms can be a little intimidating, but if you find yourself in need of direction the staff are friendly and impressively knowledgeable about their stock so you can rest assured they’ll point you in the right direction. The shelves, though cramped, are well organised and clearly labelled with masking tape and a trusty marker, and there are helpful signs overhead to point you in the right direction.
The second-hand bookshop is an enterprise to be valued in our waste-conscious society. A twice-owned book has two stories—the one envisioned by the writer, and then the reader who loved it and lost themselves in its pages before you. And you can contribute to this cycle—Alice’s Bookshop also buys your previously loved books. This is truly a booklovers dream. So pay them a visit and let the $10 bargain table out the front draw you in—you’re sure to leave with a treasure.