Shop here: City Basement Books, Melbourne

City Basement Books
342 Flinders St, Melbourne


It’s amazing how conditioned we become in our daily routines, how little we actually see when we’re just blindly and obediently repeating the same old processes day after day. City Basement Books is the best example I think I’ve ever witnessed of this phenomenon in my life! My bookshop radar is pretty well honed at this point in my life. I can usually sniff them out like a Beagle on a hunt. But lo and behold, I’ve been walking past the entrance to this place almost every day for the past year and never noticed it. I am so, so surprised, shocked and actually quite disappointed in myself, not only for missing out on 12 months of book shopping, but at the fact that I’m apparently on auto-pilot so much at the moment.

The entrance to City Basement Books is located on Flinders St, and I walk past it most days after work on my way to the station. By that point, it’s around 5pm. I’ve been at work since just after 8am. 9 hours later, my mind and soul are just about numb. I’m grateful to be out in the fresh air, but all I can think about it getting to the station to board the train that’ll take me back home, to my real life. Please don’t misunderstand, it’s not that I hate my job, because I really don’t. It’s just that for the first time in my life, my work is just a job; being the highly organised, highly strung kind of girl I am who operates best when she’s doing three things at once with at least two of those things being things I really care for/am passionate about, I guess the lower intensity and stimulation at work (compared to my last few jobs) is getting to me a little more than I realised… But, I digress. The books. So, each day, I’ve been passing by here, completely unaware of the bound paradise that lies beneath the street. On a recent lunch break, I was Googling book stores in the city while I was eating my bun cha, and found this place. The address struck me as odd; surely I’d have noticed a bookshop there! A few nights later, I had the chance to visit on my way home from work. I descended the stairs into heaven…


What lies beneath Flinders Street is a veritable cornucopia of books, of every type of book you could possibly imagine, and probably more! I didn’t get to spend nearly enough time there, but man am I glad I’ve found it – now that I know it’s on my way home, I’ll be planning to catch the later train home more often so I can stop in and browse on a regular basis! There are so many books, there literally is not enough room for them on shelves; they are piled up all over the place! I instantly felt at home, my soul did little cartwheels, I didn’t know where to start looking first! I did pick up a random, old, travel-related book (“Away From It All” – basically had my name on it!)… did a double take when I saw the price was only $4.00! I almost had to ask the lady at the counter to repeat herself when she confirmed the penciled amount I saw on the page!


If you’re like me, another city inhabitant, who does the daily walk down Flinders St back to the station, do yourself a favour one day this week; slow down, open your eyes, climb down the literary rabbit hole! I wonder what else I’ve been missing…


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