Our latest Bookseller in Spotlight is Chloe from the wonderful Riverbend Books in Brisbane.

How did you get into bookselling?

I discovered Riverbend Books when I was visiting my Uncle and Aunt. When I moved from Cairns to Brisbane for university, Riverbend became a second home – I’ve always been a reader, and books were a way to curb my homesickness. Over the course of about three years I handed in six resumes until I was finally called in for an interview. And I’m still here, ten years later!

What do you love most about being a bookseller?

There are far too many things to list here! I want to say it’s the vibe? There’ll be days where I won’t be doing anything particularly exciting but I’ll be overcome with a wave of gratitude for the job that I have. Books are a passion, and being a bookseller is more than just selling books. It’s a way of life, and I feel so proud and grateful to be on the forefront of everything that’s new and world-changing. Because that’s what books have the power to do – change the world, and the way people see it. The less esoteric answer, however, is that there’s nothing I love more than recommending the perfect book to a reader.

Has bookselling changed in during coronavirus?

Yes, and no. We’ve been able to stretch our legs regarding online sales and events and have even started an online bookclub. We already had a strong internet presence insofar as online sales are concerned, but I think there were plenty of other bookstores that benefited from discovering a new platform to reach more customers than before. There were so many customers who returned to us during lockdown to tell us that they rediscovered their love for reading – or found a love for reading that they didn’t have before. It’s taught the world that there’s nothing wrong with slowing down and enjoying a great book.

What kinds of books do you gravitate towards?

I mostly gravitate toward books with a magical bent – I love literary fiction with magical realism, but mostly enjoy disappearing into fantasy worlds. It’s the purest form of escapism.

Is there a book that you think everyone should read?

There are so many I could list here, but I’m going to have to go with The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. I picked it up at an airport when I was eighteen years old, on my way back to Brisbane after visiting family for the holidays. I devoured it on the flight and finished it that night when I got home. It helped me to realise I was on the right path and doing the right thing – it helped me to look forward, and was a cure for my homesickness (along with all nine seasons of Scrubs).

What was the last interaction with a customer that made you laugh?

I’m laughing while writing this! I’m standing at the counter while our monthly bookclub are gathered at the back of the shop. It’s one of our most loyal groups who’ve been coming to this bookclub for years. They’re cackling like a band of loveable hyenas and it never fails to make me smile.

What is a recent Australian title you loved?

The Rabbits by Sophie Overett! It’s a July [2021] release. She’s the latest winner of the Penguin Literary Prize and this is an amazing debut from a young writer. It’s steeped in Australian landscape and is about family, loss, and the connections we make in the midst of loneliness and grief. And of course, there’s a hint of magical realism thrown in, too.