Women's Bookshop, Ponsonby
You might think to yourself, ‘It’s 2016! Why do we still need to celebrate the work of women as though they’re discriminated against? Gender equality has happened in New Zealand!’ Sadly, you are either wrong, or a man. Women writers generally receive less literary attention than their male counterparts, and most men avoid reading the work of women. There is also the idea that ‘women’s fiction’ is a subcategory of published work, whereas books by men are the norm. I experienced this first-hand recently, when I was asked by a woman to recommend a book, but was told that she ‘doesn’t read women’s books’. As Meg Wolitzer says in her article ‘The Second Shelf’, “many first-rate books by women and about women’s lives never find a way to escape ‘Women’s Fiction’”. The point is, having a store like the Women’s Bookshop that celebrates women is a wonderful and vital part of Auckland’s book scene.
Some of the wonderful features of the Women’s Bookshop include its wall of the top 50 women authors of the past 50 years, as voted by the New Zealand public. A few New Zealand writers appear on this list, including Eleanor Catton at number 5, Patricia Grace at number 6, Janet Frame at number 7, and Keri Hulme at number 12. They also have a sizeable range of non-fiction books that focus on the diverse experiences and concerns of women, including women’s health, psychology, child-rearing, feminism and sexuality, which in most bookshops would not have such a large placement.
The Women’s Bookshop is a specialist store, but if you’re in need of a good thriller, a children’s book, or anything else in the realm of words-on-bound-paper (a book) then this is still the place to go. Try spending an hour browsing the shelves; I’m certain that your eyes will be opened to the fascinating range of material that you may not have looked at before.
Photography by IsabellaWeb