Saturday 9 June 2012

Serendipitous Sydney Penguin Hunting

I have just returned from a few days in Sydney where a friend and I saw Les Liaison's Dangereuse with Hugo Weaving, Justine Clark and Pamela Rabe at the Sydney Theatre Company.  The play was brilliant beyond my expectations. I thoroughly enjoyed it. The story was saucy, the acting tremendous and the theatre itself is beautiful. We felt as though we were a part of the play due to the arrangement of the audience.

View from the Japanese Restaurant
 We also enjoyed some window shopping in the Queen Vic Building along with a wonderful Bento box in their third floor Japanese restaurant and a chat to Claudia from the ABC's recently discontinued Collector's Show.  She is lovely and was trying out some fashion in her wonderful shop she runs with her mother.

As depressing as it can sometimes be to be surrounded by beautiful items far above one's budget the second-hand book shopping in Sydney did not disappoint.  I had three lovely experiences in as many days looking for books amongst other fun activities.

We spent one day on Oxford Street visiting Ariel which is a new books shop with lovely stationery and new best sellers. We then went across the street to Berkelouw's books which has two floors of second hand books.

There is another second hand book shop Ampersand Cafe and Book Store also on Oxford Rd that has a small cafe that is part of a large house, all the rooms being filled with quality second hand books. 

The following day we walked from our George Street Hotel to Glebe Point Road where we visited Glee Books second hand book shop and then back to Glee Books new book shop. This shop is reportedly Sydney's largest Independent book shop.  Another very interesting second hand shop is Cornflower books across the road from Glee Books. There is a wonderful second hand bookshop next door to Glee's second hand called Sapho but prices seemed very high so I walked out immediately before I fell in love with something and spent more than my budget allowed.

Stunning covers
I found vintage Penguin books at all of the shops mentioned (second hand shops) but something else happened that lifted my spirits even higher.  I have carried a little black book with me that has my Penguin Book collection documented in it.

 It has all of the Penguin numbers 1 - 3000 listed where I have ticked off the books I own. I mainly collect first published Penguins unless I really love the cover of a reprint then I will pick that up as well.
Everything is recorded in this small book before transferred to The Library Thing website.

I inadvertently dropped my little black book somewhere in the street but didn't realise it until I read the text message on my mobile after the theatre from Adrian.

He kindly left a message on my voicemail that he found a little black book that looked as though it would be very important to someone. I received this message very late Thursday night and I was to fly back to Hobart early Friday morning. He left both his email address and phone number. I immediately emailed him and he is going to post it out to me this next week so I should get it back.

I have written panicky details at the front of the book and this is now the second time this book is being returned to me. The first time I left it in a back pocket in a pair of jeans on the back of a hotel room bathroom door in Cradle Mountain in Tassie.  Australia truly is the home of the boomerang.  I am looking forward to seeing it again.

Another happy moment was when I discovered a pile of the now defunct British Book and Magazine Collector magazine in a back room of Cornflower Bookshop.

I noticed the April 2006, No 267 edition lying on the pile. This particular issue is devoted mainly to Penguin book collecting and has 26 wonderful pages devoted to collecting vintage Penguins, Pelicans, Porpoises, Puffins and other information related to the days of Allen Lane's publishing empire.  I see much of the article is attributed to our Penguin VIP from the Penguin Collector's Society whom Karyn and I met on our trip to England this year.
(KR  apenguinaweek  I will photocopy the pages and send them to you.)

Now I am home again with my head filled with the world of literature and theatre it is time to get back to work on caring for the books, reading them and continuing correspondence about them.  It was one of the busiest trips I have had in such a short time frame and  I am happily exhausted.  There is nothing I love more than finding more old Penguin books, riding the busses to Bondi only to get on the wrong bus and end up at Bronte, another beautiful beach, meeting wonderful people and then returning home to my happy family of T. and the creatures.
Love the Penguin Science Fiction Cover Fifth Planet

 A new Muriel Spark book and another by Graham Greene

Things to do in Sydney in 3 days-

  • visit the above book shops mentioned. Be sure to go into the small cafe/bakery next door to Glee second hand books. Beautiful food and a lovely man who takes care of the elderly in the community. 
  • Walk down Oxford Street to see vintage fashion and browse the second hand book shops
  • take the bus to Bondi where there are more second hand bookshops that we unfortunately missed this trip.  
  • Plan your trip around a performance at the Sydney Theatre Co to see some brilliant Australian acting and enjoy views of Sydney Harbour and the quirky lights of Luna Park across the way. 
  • Don't forget the Queen Victoria Building, 
  • the Strand Arcade and 
  • Kinokuniya Book shop across from the QVB and browse the large collection of everything under the sun (new books) including an extensive Japanese range of items.


  1. Your trip made me tired reading about it, but it was really an exciting few days. I wish I had the energy to do that much in such a short time. Glad you found some good penguins.
    Yes, you are very lucky that man is mailing back your little black book!

  2. Thank goodness for Adrian! Sounds a great trip - brings back memories of my trip to Sydney in 1992.


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