Good Reading : April 2010
APRIL 2010 ı goodreading 25 fully booked THE BOOKSHOPS Rainy Day Books 1301 Mountain Highway, The Basin 03 9762 0862 Vintage Cookbooks 79 Monbulk Road, Kallista 03 9755 3890 Kallista Books (open Saturdays only) 1 Tom Roberts Road, Kallista 03 9755 2710 Wormhole Books 4/60-68 Colby Drive, Belgrave Heights 03 9754 5440 Book trail website: www.mountainsofbooks.com.au Vintage Cookbooks Kallista Books Wormhole Books Vintage Cookbooks, run by Barbara Russell, is in the main street, and, as its name suggests, specialises in books on cookery and food. Barbara, whohasaPhDin history and worked as a cook when her children were little, says the bookshop is a meeting of her two great interests. 'Cookbooks are a lovely little piece of social history,' she says. 'They show us how people cooked and lived.' The shop has shelves of books on baking, vegetarian food, wild foods, vegetables, fruit and Eastern European, French, Italian, Mediterranean and Asian cooking. There is also a section on English cooking, pre- and post- World War II, with the wisdom of Mrs Beeton prominently displayed. There are also Australian cookbooks and books by celebrity chefs. Adding to the shop's atmosphere is the well-placed kitchenalia: weighing scales, rolling pins and wooden spoons. 'I bought the business from a woman in Sydney, Barbara Fisher, who was in her 80s and retiring,' says Barbara. 'I saw it advertised for sale and thought it would be a great business to have. Initially, I ran the business online and through catalogues, but thought it would be nice to have a shop -- the business was expanding and books were taking over our rumpus room.' Just around the cor ner is Kallista Books, run by landscape gardener 'Willie' Williams.The shop, with its distinctive blue door and book-related fur niture including a working book press, began life as a dairy in the 1930s. The building had been derelict for 10 years when Willie bought it and opened it as a bookshop three years ago. 'It was full of machinery when I bought it,' he recalls. Willie has always been passionate about books. 'I grew up book-poor,' he recalls. 'So I get excited by books. I loved putting up the bookshelves in the shop and filling them.' Initially, though, his own collecting interest grew out of his landscape gardening. 'I started out collecting vintage nursery catalogues from the Hills,' he says. Now, as a bookseller, his horticultural section is one of his major drawcards; he recalls that one customer spent $700 of his 2009 economic stimulus payment on horticultural catalogues. But horticulture is only part of Willie's business. The bookshop shelves are crammed with local histories, lots of Australiana, first editions of Australian fiction, children's books, and old maps. He stocks crime fiction in a separate room, along with recipe booklets, and magazines with obscure titles, such as a 1935 edition of Model Engineer and Practical Electrician. At present, Kallista Books is open only on Saturdays, but Willie hopes to open more frequently and cut back on his gardening business at some point in the future. The final (or first, if you're doing the trail from the opposite direction) port of call on the trail is Wor mhole Books in Belgrave Heights, run by 'Sandy' Sanders. Its off-the- beaten-track location means it doesn't get a great deal of passing tourist trade, but it is well known locally as a good place to buy books. Sandy started off selling new books in a shop, also called Wor mhole Books, in nearby Upwey 10 years ago, but changed premises and stock after six years. 'I changed to secondhand books because of the thrill of the hunt and I loved the eccentric customers,' she says. 'Anyway, I found that even though I sold new books, people still brought me books. If you have a bookshop, people are always trying to sell you things -- even old telephone directories and copies of Melways!' As the name suggests, Sandy started off specialising in science fiction, but the shop, crammed with bookshelves full of books, is definitely general now, with a good range of literature, including literary magazines, plays, crime fiction, children's books, self-help books, and a hobbies section. There are so many books that some -- including a large range of Agatha Christies -- are stocked in special boxes on the floor. It might not yet be a very long trail, but Barbara Russell hopes that will be rectified as it grows. 'There are some lovely bookshops in Healesville and Warburton, and we hope they'll join the trail when they feel the time is right for them,' she says.