Meet the bookseller with James Butler
James Butler works as a bookseller at our Hawthorn shop. Here we chat with them about how they ended up working in bookshops, and what’s an Australian book everyone should read.
Why did you decide to work in books?
I began working in an independent bookshop when I first started studying creative writing and English literature at university. It felt like work that was the perfect extension of my studies and just another place to be excited about writing and books. Nine years later and I’m now doing postgraduate study and teaching at university, but I’m still working as a bookseller too. I think that bookshops are super important spaces for everyone to have discussions about writing and ideas.
What’s the best book you’ve read lately and why?
I had a lot of fun reading Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl by Andrea Lawlor. It’s an Orlando-style romp about Paul, an aimless film student with a voracious sexual appetite who can change genders at will. It pairs the pretentious qualities of liberal universities with salacious erotica with such irreverence, but also manages to find real heart in its main character.
Tell us about an Australian book that made a significant impact on you.
Even though it was only published last year, Axiomatic by Maria Tumarkin has already made a significant impact on me. This collection of essays takes aim at the ways we relate to each other and ourselves, and succeeds with profundity, creativity, and a real emotional generosity for its subjects. Maria Tumarkin is one of the most exciting Australian writers working today.
What books are sitting on your bedside table right now?
I have less of a neat pile on my bedside table and more of a series of cavernous piles scattered about my room. Two that I am very excited to start reading are Empirical by Lisa Gorton and Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments by Saidiya Hartman.