Meet the bookseller with Emma Clarke

In this Meet the Bookseller column we chat with Emma Clarke, one of our excellent St Kilda booksellers! We talk about everything from the favourite part of the job to the ideal fictional world to be trapped within.

Emma is also the new host of our weekly Readings St Kilda storytimes that take place every Saturday at 2pm.

What is your favourite part of your job?

There are a lot of things I love about my job. My favourite … probably helping kids find books they’re excited about and giving them stickers (stickers are just cool). There’s something extraordinary about being a part of developing a love for reading with kids. Even if it’s a small part of their journey.

What is the hardest question a customer has asked you in the bookshop?

Can you find me an easy-read fiction book where nothing bad or sad happens for my (insert friend or family member here)? It’s so hard, and it often comes up (fair enough)! Even now, I struggle to think of one! It’s also hard because where’s the line for ‘bad’? I don’t know! Ah! Someone help me!

Describe your taste in books.

Anything that really uses the landscape as a character/central element is something I’m interested in. Reading Ursula K. Le Guin as a young teen really pushed me in that direction and I haven’t looked back. Also, a book with a non-human as the primary focus! I find writing about them fascinating, trying to understand and empathise with creatures you can never really know? Sign me up! What a creative feat.

Tell us about an Australian book that made a significant impact on you. Tell us about a book that changed the way you think.

Only the Animals by Ceridwen Dovey. Not only did it make me cry on the tram on my most recent re-read (look, I’m an easy crier!) but when I read it as a teenager, it broke down my understanding of what an animal is. I hadn’t read anything like it at the time. It was completely revolutionary for me.

If you were cursed to be trapped inside the world of a book, which one would you pick – and why?

Lordy! Alright. I assume I can pick a region in a world? I think I’d want to live in The Shire, Middle Earth. I know! But I miss living on my parents’ farm and the outfits that the hobbits wear are really sweet. I feel like I just want to lounge around in rolling fields, garden, host small dinner parties with sherry and have many breakfasts (the best meal). But I’d want to be a mischievous hobbit, not one of those stuffy Proudfoots!


What’s the best book you’ve read lately and why?

Autobiography of Red by Anne Carson. I haven’t even finished it, but I’m entirely enchanted and a bit sad that it’s nearly over. It’s hard to put into words why it’s so good but I think it’s how close to the bone Carson cuts with the mundane. Why is there a fruit bowl that has never had fruit in it before? How does it feel being completely void of purpose? Stuff like that is peppered throughout the book. It’s just a witty, passionate mutt of a romance. I love it.

What books are sitting on your bedside table right now?

For some reason, I’ve always been anti-bedside table, so I’ve got books … on my floor, which now thinking about it seems impractical. I’m going to trip over them one day and I’ll have only myself to blame. Anyway, I’ve got: Animal Dreams by David Brooks, Dark Ecology by Timothy Morton, Staying with the Trouble by Donna Haraway (so much theory!) and Plainwater by Anne Carson. All of these are books I ‘jump’ in and out of often. Reading them in one go would be a crime of passion that I don’t want to engage in. What if I don’t absorb them properly?!

 Read review
Only the Animals

Only the Animals

Ceridwen Dovey

$22.99Buy now

Finding stock availability...