Saturday, 28 February 2015

I'm Not Sure if Someone's Stolen My Diary or...?

Have you ever read a book and it just gets you? I mean really gets you. You read it and you're ready to yell out THAT'S MY LIFE! Perhaps this is maybe for non-fiction books although I don't see why it couldn't be fiction books either - after all I am a Divergent living in an oppressive society that's sorted into factions...

But really, it's great when you find a book that applies to your life as if it were written just for you.
Most recently for me, after attending one of those great talks at ACMI around their current film series 'China Up Close' I was able to see the hilarious Benjamin Law give a talk. This later possessed me to read his autobiographical-ish/ anecdotal book 'The Family Law'.

The chapter especially 'Tone Deaf' effectively encapsulates how I feel about my inability to speak a second language as well as the humour (I hope) and insecurities that go with it! Sometimes it's hard to articulate exactly how you feel or what you are going through so it's always handy when someone says it for you. Oh self depreciating humour. Although fair warning - there is a pretty graphic description of childbirth from his mother...

Upon quizzing Helene about a book that she felt related to her, 'The Hare with Amber Eyes' by Edmund de Wal came up in conversation. 

A journey through generations and lands, this book  takes the reader into the uncertainty and tumultuous times of the Second World War. The affiliation with this book comes from a Austrian heritage and a love of history! 

"I have spent the last few years writing a very personal book. It is the biography of a collection and the biography of my family. It is the story of the ascent and decline of a Jewish dynasty, about loss and diaspora and about the survival of objects.
The collection is of 264 Japanese netsuke. It is the common thread for the story of its three Jewish owners and the three rooms in which it was kept over a period of a hundred and forty years.
The first of the three rooms is the study in Paris in the 1870s of the art-critic Charles Ephrussi, the model of Swann in Proust, hung with Impressionist paintings by Renoir and Degas. The second room is the dressing-room of my great-grandmother Emmy von Ephrussi in the vast Palais Ephrussi on the Ringstrasse in Vienna. The third room is that of her son Ignace, my great-uncle Iggie, in Tokyo in the 1970s, an apartment looking out across central Tokyo.
I am the fifth generation of the family to inherit this collection, and it is my story too. I am a maker: I make pots. How things are made, how they are handled and what happens to them has been central to my life for over thirty years. So too has Japan, a place I went to when I was 17 to study pottery. How objects embody memory - or more particularly, whether objects can hold memories - is a real question for me. This book is my journey to the places in which this collection lived. It is my secret history of touch."
- author's website

And so dear reader, what book applies so closely to your life that you swear it was lifted from your journal? We'd love to know what it is!

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

You've Got to Love that New Book Smell!

Repeat after me: I smell books. It is not weird. I am not weird. 

But why do some people (myself included) have a weird obsession with smelling books? Why is that musty dusty smell so enticing and why do they smell different to regular paper? This is one of the many mysteries of life. Like new car smell or new house smell (although that might just be the smell of paint...) it's a hard thing to pinpoint what exactly makes it so appealing. 

Apparently some people have been bothered enough to try and work this out - thanks to the Daily Mail

But chemistry is hard so that probably went over a lot of heads. 
Occasionally when you smell paper, people give you strange looks. I'm pretty sure that I've been judged by friends and strangers alike but *sorry* can't hear you over the smell.  Upon google-ing 'book smell' I have come across a strange new found thing. Yay technology has finally achieved something useful... ;) thoughtfully shared some cool nice smelling things so you can feel like you live in a library all the time! 

"Frostbeard Booklover’s Scented Soy Candles. A series of home scents ideal for every bibliophile, the one who reads print or electronic books. The four scents shown above are:
  • Old Books – inspired by the smell of old books: “a sweet, earthy smell with a hint of must.”
  • Bookstore – the scent is a cozy and sweet blend of earthy tones, with notes of timber, driftwood, and hazelnut cappuccino.
  • Book Cellar – with notes of dirt, basement, and vanilla bean, this candle smells like the cellar full of books.
  • Oxford Library – a refreshing blend of woodsy and earthy tones: oak moss, amber, sandalwood, with hints of tobacco and leather."

 I must say that I love the 'hint of dirt' that is included to get the authentic smell. And I'm pretty sure that this is a joke but 'Smell of Books' is available to anyone desperate enough to fall for this. 

"The smell of e-books just got better

Does your Kindle leave you feeling like there’s something missing from your reading experience?
Have you been avoiding e-books because they just don’t smell right?
If you’ve been hesitant to jump on the e-book bandwagon, you’re not alone. Book lovers everywhere have resisted digital books because they still don’t compare to the experience of reading a good old fashioned paper book.
But all of that is changing thanks to Smell of Books™, a revolutionary new aerosol e-book enhancer.
Now you can finally enjoy reading e-books without giving up the smell you love so much. With Smell of Books™ you can have the best of both worlds, the convenience of an e-book and the smell of your favorite paper book.
Smell of Books™ is compatible with a wide range of e-reading devices and e-book formats and is 100% DRM-compatible. Whether you read your e-books on a Kindle or a smartphone using your favorite reading app, Smell of Books™ brings back that real book smell you miss so much."

But in all seriousness, this is why paper books (real books be honest) can never die out! Because people are obsessed with the smell! You can't smell an e-book. Well you can but you're probably just smelling electricty or the sweet smell of chemicals. 

Really all I want to do is sit there

Saturday, 21 February 2015

It was 38 years ago today (Sgt Pepper (Andrew) told the band to play)

Did you know that on the 21st of February Andrew's Bookshop will be turning 38 years old! To celebrate, we thought we'd have a bit of a chat with the Andrew of Andrew's Bookshop.

How did Andrew’s Bookshop first begin?

Andrew: I knew I’d always wanted to work for myself. I’d found two boxes of books under my parent’s house and took them to sell at the Wantirna market. I then advertised in the local newspaper for second hand books to buy but I didn’t have a car so I’d have to hitch hike to pick purchase them!

What got you into the book business?

I did the markets for about four years and then thought it was a good time to expand. We opened a shop in Ringwood in 1981 which was a great experience in learning how to run a shop. We finally moved to Ivanhoe in 1983 and this [current location at 183 Upper Heidelberg Road] is the third shop that we’ve been in. Back then, you weren’t allowed to have tables on the pavement permanently but the Trader’s Association had four days a year when you could sell stock on the streets. It took some running around to get a permit permanently from the council – including being told ‘You will never get a permit!’ but after months of persistence and local campaigning we finally managed to get a hold of one.

What’s the best part about running a bookshop?

Probably the ever changing titles that we stock and working with our very talented staff to improve the shop for our customers.

Which book has had the biggest impact on your life?

Well, there’s been a couple! I can remember reading Under Milk Wood by Welsh poet Dylan Tomas in school and his writing just gives you a different view point on the world. The E Myth by Michael Gerber is as excellent one as well full of practical ideas on how to improve your business. I suppose the Bible is a big one too.

What was the last book that you read?

I’ve nearly finished reading the Broker by John Grisham - it’s a light enjoyable read.

If you could meet any author, who would it be?

I’d like to meet Timothy Ferriss author of The Four Hour Work Week - he travels the world and only has to work four hours a week…

And lastly, the eternal question – watch the film and then read the book or read the book and then watch the film?

I’ve done both! It depends on what film and book. Dances with Wolves by Michael Blake was an interesting one as you could compare the two and what was left out from the film. 

Under Milk Wood by Welsh poet Dylan Tomas
To begin at the beginning: It is spring, moonless night in the small town, starless and bible-black….”

The E Myth by Michael Gerber 
'What if, instead of one pile of chaos, you had two kinds of clarity? If you had a guide to help you see what your business could look like, and a roadmap that laid out the exact steps to take to get there from where you are today. And you didn’t have to do it alone.'

The Broker by John Grisham
"In his final hours in the Oval Office, the outgoing President grants a controversial last-minute pardon to Joel Backman, a notorious Washington power broker who has spent the last six years hidden away in a federal prison. What no one knows is that the President issues the pardon only after receiving enormous pressure from the CIA."

The Four Hour Work Week  by Timothy Ferriss
"If you could 10x your per-hour would your life and business change?"

Dances with Wolves by Michael Blake
"I am Wind in his hair! Do you see I am not afraid of you?"

To have and to hold (but not necessarily to read)

Yes, I will admit it.  I judge books by their covers. I also start many at a time and don't always finish them. I have at least stopped dog earing my corners but there is worse news.

It has come to my attention that I have the weird habit of borrowing books (because they look amazing) and then never reading them. It's strange though because until i have them in my house, I have an uncontrollable need to buy them. While I am fully supportive of buying books forever, having them in my house, room, shelf seems to quench my thirst for the said paper. It's like a bandaid if you will. Or nicotine patch but not. It is something that I can't explain. 

More Than This by Patrick Ness was one of these once. The striking colours, the larger format and not to mention the cut out to the yellow page behind. Not to say that the book was boring - in fact it sounds very interesting (albeit not my usual genre). I wanted it at once! However, once it was sitting nicely on my shelf (floor), my feelings were absolved. Seriously speaking, it's not a very serious subject.

Does anyone feel me though? Anyone??

Saturday, 14 February 2015

So I'm Looking for this Book that has... Food!

Sometimes working in a bookshop we come across some vague customer requests. Hey, we're not complaining we like a challenge too, but sometimes it's good to be ultra specific. And why not be ultra specific where food is concerned! If cooking (or eating) is more your specialty, then there are approximately a billion titles for your consuming pleasure. Or you can drop subtle hints to your significant other this Valentine's Day. Actually, scrap the subtle hints, just tell them!

Okay, so here's some things to make your stomach grumble on the topic of very very specific food books...

The Complete Mushroom Book by Antonio Carluccio
Now I apologise if you are one of the people who are deathly allergic to mushrooms but this book is both an interesting field guide to field mushrooms (haha) and an inspiring cook book to boot. With tips and tell tale signs of those pesky poisonous mushrooms, finding and cooking your own mushrooms has never been so attractive. Carluccio was great in the TV show Two Greedy Italians so my only regret is that it doesn't really translate onto the page. I guess you could read it aloud in his voice?

French Fries by Zac Williams
IS THIS NOT THE BEST BOOK EVER?!?! It is an ode to the simple potato (and sometimes other vegetables (gasp)) that is fried in a myriad of ways. It can never be said again that chips do not go with every single meal. Hurrah! Some of our favourites include 'Cincinnati Chili Cheese Chips' and 'Nacho Fries' - the name says it all. At Andrew's we are not opposed to a little chip party once in a while either...

50 Icy Poles by Cesar and Nadia Roden
As the tagline says, these 50 icypoles are sensations on a stick. I can tell you now that I could probably consure 25 of these in a sitting in this current climate. Bring on summer if I can have my 'Strawberries and Cream', 'Rhubarb and Custard' and 'New York Black and White' icypoles.... mmm icy stuff...

The Banh Mi Handbook by Andrea Nguyen
I know you can obviously eat food from other cultures but there are times when I sometimes wish I was Vietnamese so that there'd be a higher chance that I'd have delicious homemade banh mi on a regular basis. This is the stuff of dreams. Come on cloudy with a chance of meetballs! Where are you now?

Better Made at Home by Esterelle Payany
Never again will you have to make a late night dash for nutella in the middle of the night! Oh no! The premise of Better Made at Home is why make when you can create (oh hang on that's Masterfoods), no it is in fact to teach you how to make pantry staples yourself! Semolina cake with caramel anyone? Or how about homemade barbeque sauce and chocolate bars. Yum yum! Even if you don't like the recipes the front cover design is gorgeous. Unfortunately you can't eat cardboard, or can you?? Yep, the link is in french but learn two things at once..

That just about wraps up our very specific food special. If there's anymore specific things that you'd like to know about, why not pop in and let us know!

Tuesday, 10 February 2015


It's February! And that means its Natalie T's turn to showcase her personality (through books of course) on our cover photo.

1. Lonely Planet FOOD LOVER'S GUIDE TO THE WORLD - yes, here at Andrew's Books, we are absolutely infatuated by traveling and especially all the exotic cuisines that we may (or may not) know of. This book would perfect for anyone who consumes food (oh wait, that's all of us).

2. THE KITE RUNNER by Khaled Hosseini, one of the few books that actually made... me shed a tear (more like bawl my eyes out). This has also been made into a movie but nothing beats the original.

3. CITY SECRETS: PARIS edited by Robert Kahn reveals to everyone interested the favourite places and hideouts in Paris that the locals love to go to. Never again will we have to queue up for hours for something not even worth it!

4. THE TIGER WHO CAME TO TEA by Judith Kerr is an oldie but a goodie that has been adapted to become a MUSICAL! How exciting to see our favourite tiger come to life (but stay away from my biscuits).

5. Last but definitely not least, THE TEST BOOK by Michael Krogerus and Roman Tschappeler consists of little quizzes that that is vital for anyone trying to understand themselves and other. Definitely a great present for someone curious about self-discovery.
You'll find all of these books in store and while you're there, why not ask Natalie what her EQ (Emotional Intelligence) score is?


Saturday, 7 February 2015

“I hate to hear you talk about all women as if they were fine ladies instead of rational creatures. None of us want to be in calm waters all our lives.” ― Jane Austen, Persuasion

Recently I've been getting into reading an increasing number of books about feminism, gender struggles and the history of equality. While we have all been perusing the shelves (to stack all the new releases (!!)), we have discovered lots of excellent titles! It also probably helps that in attending a class on literature, we are having a focus on feminist texts. So here are three from our selection to get you thinking...

HALF THE SKY, How to Change the World by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn
Gives a fresh look at what part women play in in eradicating poverty throughout the world. Stories of overcoming adversity, and the challenges that are faced all over the globe.  It's a hopeful and pragmatic book that as their website says 'is essential reading for every global citizen'. I can only assume that half the sky comes from Chairman Mao's quote that 'women hold up half the sky' which while I agree with, sometimes makes me wonder why he is always quoted. Well I guess he did at least one thing right..

WE SHOULD ALL BE FEMINIST by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Is it bad that I first heard of her from a Beyonce song? Anyway, this is based on her TEDx talk that she gave in 2013. It's a an empowering (for want of a better word), and excellent resource that makes you proud to be a feminist, nay, we should all be feminists.

"What if both boys and girls were raised not to link masculinity and money? What if their attitude was not "the boy has to pay," but rather, "whoever has more should pay." Of course, because of their historical advantage, it is mostly men who will have more today. But if we start raising children differently, then in fifty years, in a hundred years, boys will no longer have the pressure of proving their masculinity by material means."

THE FACT OF A DOORFRAME, Poems 1950-2001 by Adrienne Rich
A selection/collection of poems spanning virtually her whole life, Rich sheds light on the story of 'the other' in a patriarchal dominant society. Her words are both strong yet lilting as she draws the reader in with historic parallels to the struggles at hand. Be warned though, if you start a discussion on her work, it may never end...

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

I Need a Mnemonic To Spell Mnemonic

Does anyone remember the mnemonics that they learned in school to help them learn words?
After a brief brain freeze, I had to be reminded on how to spell 'because'. B-E-C-A-U-S-E. Big elephants can't always use small entrances. What's another one?

Eight - Every Indian goes home tonight
Piece - A piece of PIE (not a mnemonic but still fun)
Even learning music for the spaces in the treble clef - FACE and left, All cows eat grass for ACEG. Actually, I play guitar but just learnt the names of the strings (Elephants and donkeys grow big ears) Why do elephants always make an appearance in these things?!
In fact, if you google spelling mnemonics you can find some pretty weird things. I'll leave you to find out on your own the word I can never see the same again...

Dictionary .com says
something intended to assist the memory, as a verse or formula.
Computers. a programming code that is easy to remember, as STO for “store.”
It's kind of cool looking back to see how these helped to learn words. And then you start kicking yourself when you discover that the extra vowels you added when trying to spell the word were all misplaced. Although saying that, I still forget how to spell unfortunately and please!

At least google can tell me (and give me pictures like this)