Best of Canberra: secondhand bookshops

Gabrielle Kneipp 21 May 2018 1

So, Semester 1 of 2016 started back at University last week. In the midst of worrying, whilst at the same time generally procrastinating about the amount of reading I already have to do, it seemed like a great time to visit secondhand book shops this weekend.

My first stop was at Beyond Q, located in the basement of Curtin shops.


It is very spacious and well organised, with not only books but vinyl, DVDs and CDs as well. There are some interesting artifacts decorating the place too, such as a coat of arms above the special collections room and tribal tools at the foreign language section.

There is a great little café in here, too. I can’t speak as to its quality, but think it is a fantastic idea to be able to grab a coffee, cake or sandwich to enjoy with a book you have discovered. You can take a seat at the café or there is also a number of chairs and sitting areas settled in between the bookshelves. For something a little different, Beyond Q offers live music during the afternoon and a jazz trio was warming up at about 2pm on Sunday.

Book-swapping is available (except on Wednesdays and weekends) and you can earn a store credit from the proceeds, which can be used either for buying more books or at the café and has no expiry.


My second trip was to Canty’s in Fyshwick. It may look small at first, but there is so much more to be had as you wander further in. There are stacks of books everywhere! It’s quite incredible and exciting, I couldn’t stop looking in all directions wondering where to start.

It has the magical quiet of a bookstore but still alive with the rustle of other customers browsing along with you. Despite my best intentions and thinking that I would be able to manage some form of restraint, I now have four books that will silently demand my attention throughout the rest of semester and be my reward during the holidays.


For the readers who voted for Canty’s bookshop, it was because they had a wide range of titles available to suit their needs. Having checked it out, I understand why – there is so much on offer!

However for me, it was the atmosphere of Beyond Q that earns it the Best of Canberra tick of approval. It was so cosy and comfortable, I felt like I wanted to stay for hours and browse through the books on offer. Only time prevented me from doing so, but I look forward to going back when I have more time to settle in and enjoy it.

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One Response to Best of Canberra: secondhand bookshops
schmeah schmeah 4:35 pm 23 Feb 16

Beyond Q is a fine bookstore and I do frequent it – but it can be hideously expensive (they are second-hand books after all). I

‘m probably more a fan of Canty’s because it’s more realistically priced and you can find everything there, even if it is a bit of an organisational maze.

I also recommend Book Lore in Lyneham.

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