Just a few days ago, the ubiquitous chain bookstore Whitcoulls went into voluntary administration, possibly never to be seen again. Terrible things have also been happening to Borders, both in New Zealand and in the USA, and the Queen Street one now devotes more of its real estate to picture-frames and terrible coffee* than to stocking the finest in print.
This means that, in the central city, there are only a tiny few bookshops left that are still inspiring places to pop into. Chief of these is Unity Books. It is in High Street, one of Betty’s favourite places; it’s close to the Chancery, where one can find lovely things like extravagant mochaccinos and perfume for one’s wedding and upscale Korean cosmetics and expensive shoes (one generally doesn’t, but the Chancery is still a lovely place to wander around).
Betty has been in there once or twice recently, and finds any excuse to go again. They have the full collection of Penguin Great Ideas, walls full of poetry and philosophy, almost an entire shelf of Umberto Eco, a confessional memoir about an ex-Mennonite that Betty has her eye on, and a selection that Betty is considering as part of her medical humanities course, which starts in a fortnight. Last time she was there Betty picked up The Shaking Woman or A History of My Nerves, and she is enjoying it immensely.
*Terrible, terrible coffee. Worse than you can imagine. Betty could tell some stories, by golly.