Inner-city bookshops welcome back readers as the Melbourne CBD reawakens

MCR-Maxine-Beneba-Clarke-courtesy-of-Hachette-AustraliaAs the city reopens its doors to shoppers and visitors from Melbourne and beyond, inner-city bookshops are thrilled to welcome back customers after a tumultuous time for book retail.

How Decent Folk Behave – the new book by Melbourne-based author Maxine Beneba Clarke, will be spotlighted during the month of November as part of the Melbourne City Reads initiative.

After a year of literary events such as the Melbourne Writers Festival being cancelled due to lockdowns – a free Melbourne City Reads ‘In conversation’ event with Maxine and comedian Brian Nankervis is being eagerly anticipated by the city’s book lovers.

All participating MCR bookshops except Readings’ branch in the State Library are now open to the public, with the highly anticipated Readings Emporium bookshop, set to be the group’s most lavish store to date, to open in December – proving the Readings group’s confidence that the CBD will bounce back after a dormant period for retail.

I am so thrilled to have been able to reopen our shops. This has been a long and arduous 20 months. There is nothing like interacting in person with readers – online just doesn’t cut it,” said Readings managing director Mark Rubbo.

“Melbourne’s cultural scene is roaring back to life, and what better way to celebrate than by thumbing through novels in our bookshops or attending an event hosted by a Melbourne author,” said Lord Mayor Sally Capp. “I look forward to seeing booklovers return to marvellous Melbourne!”

Maxine Beneba Clarke’s How Decent Folk Behave is the author’s fourth poetry collection. Available at a special reduced price of $20 (usually $26.99) in participating Melbourne City Reads stores, its heartfelt, politically driven poems are set across decades.

It address topical subjects such as climate change, bushfires, domestic violence, racism, feminism, motherhood, surveillance, screen dependency, child abuse, refugees and the Black Lives Matter movement.

After being forced to cancel in-person events during August-October, the Wheeler Centre and Melbourne City Reads are looking forward to presenting the upcoming free live event on Wednesday 24 November at 6.30pm with Maxine Beneba Clarke and Brian Nankervis launching Maxine’s new poetry collection, How Decent Folk Behave. Bookings can be made on the Wheeler Centre website.

Maxine Beneba Clarke is a writer of fiction, non-fiction, children’s books and poetry. She is the author of the multi-award-winning short-fiction collection Foreign Soil. Her new volume of poetry, How Decent Folks Behave, is published by Hachette.

Organised by eight bookshops in the City of Melbourne – Dymocks Collins Street, Hill of Content Bookshop, Mary Martin Queen Victoria Market, Mary Martin Southbank, North Melbourne Books, Paperback Bookshop, Readings Carlton and Readings State Library – Melbourne City Reads will showcase a different book each month.

The Melbourne City Reads initiative is on now and will run until November 2021. The Melbourne-based authors featured to date have been Previously featured books include Small Joys of Real Life by Allee Richards (Hachette), Miles Allinson’s In Moonland (Scribe) and Emily Bitto’s Wild Abandon (Allen & Unwin).

The bookshops involved are hopeful that the Melbourne City Reads initiative will continue in 2022, continuing to highlight our vibrant local literary culture. For more information, visit: for details.

Image: Maxine Beneba Clarke – courtesy of Hachette Australia