There is something magical about a bookstore — a place filled wall to wall, floor to ceiling with so many different journeys you can take without ever leaving your favourite chair.
That’s what it’s like in Bent Books — a small, independent, second-hand bookstore on Boundary Street.
It’s a store so enchanting, current owner Kat Mulheran has been there 15 years. Kat started working at Bent Books part time while she was studying a Bachelor of Creative Industries at the Queensland University of Technology, and her degree hasn’t taken her far away. “When the previous owner decided it was time to move onto something else, my partner, Beau, and I loved the shop so much we decided to keep it as it was, and have a go at running it,” she said. A couple for 13 years, Kat and Beau have now been running Bent Books for just over three years.
For someone like Kat, who gradated in 2003, books have always been important. “When I finished my degree, I wasn’t too sure what I wanted to do. I knew I didn’t want to write books, so I just kept selling them,” she said. “I’ve been here ever since.”
While Kat struggles to name her all-time favourite book, The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera holds a special place in her heart as it was the first book Beau bought for her. “It holds some sentimental value, as well as being just a really great book,” she said. “At the moment, I’m obsessed with history books. In the last year, I’ve read almost nothing but history books, with a few novels in between,” she said.
It’s not just the bulging shelves that makes Bent Books feel so special; it’s the space itself, which is one of Kat’s favourite parts of the store. “I love this space,” she said. “We’re lucky to have the gorgeous courtyard. I mean, it’s a scrappy old place, but it’s got its own charm and it has a lovely feel to it.”
A local to West End, Kat believes our suburb is not only the perfect place to call home, but also the perfect place to be a small business owner. Bent Books gets a lot of foot traffic, and while Kat admits the open door can bring in some interesting characters, it’s better than being a destination to which people have to travel. “It also helps that there’s some more great bookstores down the street; it’s like a little book hub,” she said.
Having been at Bent Books for over a decade now, Kat doesn’t think she’ll be going anywhere else in the near future. “I have loved being able to put my own stamp on the store,” she said. “I was always pretty involved in how it was run before I was the owner, but now I can make subtle changes to make Bent Books the exact bookshop we would like to have. It’s a tough game, but it’s a wonderful way to spend my day.”
Words by Emma Johnson | Images by Tahlia Moloney