Meet the Bookseller with George Munn

We chat with George Munn about Cormac McCarthy’s stunning prose, customers sleeping in stores and anthropomorphised woodland creatures.


Why do you work in books?

I could say it’s because I love them (which is definitely the case), but honestly? It’s because my mum told me to. She sat me down when I was about 15 and explained that a bookshop is quite probably the best place to work. After eight years working in bookshops, I would have to agree with her. It’s interesting, rewarding and quite often very amusing.

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

I usually have a few on the boil at once. The two that are really enthralling me right now are The Heart of a Dog by Mikhail Bulgakov – a fantastically sharp Russian satire – and The Death of Sweet Mister by Daniel Woodrell – a dark, disturbing and stunningly written coming-of-age story set in the Missouri Ozarks.

What’s the strangest experience you’ve had in a bookshop?

I’d say either finding a woman asleep on the couch at the back of the Hawthorn store when we were closing one night or, at the first bookshop I worked in, a lady stuffing a very large architecture book up her very tight dress in an attempt to smuggle it out.

What’s your favourite book of all time and why?

That’s a big call to make, but at the moment, I can’t go past Blood Meridian or The Evening Redness in the West by Cormac McCarthy. Not for those sensitive souls among us, this anti-Western epic tracks a group of violent and depraved scalp hunters during the westward expansion along the Mexico border. It is stark and rare. The violence is countered by McCarthy’s staggeringly beautiful prose. I can honestly say I had to remind myself to breathe while reading this book.

Name a book that has changed the way you think – in ways small or large.

Considering that my vocation is graphic design, I would have to say that How to be a Graphic Designer Without Losing Your Soul by Adrian Shaughnessy is right up there on books that have affected the way I think. It is a brilliant reference for morally minded designers.

What was your favourite book as a kid?

Some of my earliest reading memories are of Dad telling me the stories of Little Bear by Else Holmelund Minarik. As I got older it was The Witches by Roald Dahl and having Mum do impressions of their witchy voices while reading it to me. As a young teenager I was dorkishly obsessed with the Redwall books by Brian Jacques and their anthropomorphised woodland creatures duking it out with bows and arrows and longswords.