Sometimes, stepping into a secondhand bookshop is like stepping into a magical world. Such is the case with Hard to Find Books in Onehunga.
It’s a labyrinth. Mysterious staircases lead you into little nooks. Creepy faces follow you with their gaze. Intriguing objects entice you around corners and along balconies. And, of course, it’s crammed with books.
It’s a shop you could willingly get lost in. There are so many rooms of books it’s almost dizzying. I’m always afraid I won’t have enough time to explore every cranny. Hours are needed.
The walls are adorned with everything from a map of Middle-earth to a portrait of Virginia Woolf. Theatrical props and set pieces crouch between the shelves, including a throne decorated with skulls. Books frame an old-fashioned fireplace and lounge upon every stair. In the science fiction room, there’s what looks like a rocket from a 1950s TV show.
There are chairs in there, but more often than not you see people on the floor in a corner, in a nest built from books. Sometimes, I stand on the rickety mezzanine level and look down at the customers below. They all have that same sense of awe, wandering in a daze down the avenues of bookcases.
Hard to Find Books has to be one of the best secondhand bookshops in New Zealand. Unfortunately, the building it’s in is being sold, and it’s too much to hope that the new owners won’t increase the rent, forcing the shop to move. I sincerely hope, if it does move, that its new premises can be made just as magical as its current ones.
If anyone out there can point me in the direction of any other wonderful bookshops, please leave a comment below. I tend to make a beeline for them on my New Zealand campervan travels.