Since moving to Hong Kong I have slowly been working my way around independent and secondhand bookshops as I couldn’t stand using my Kindle for longer than I had to. Of course, I sussed out the major book retailers in Hong Kong pretty early on, such as Page One and the Taiwanese chain, Eslite (of which there is a huge one in Causeway Bay), but I prefer the quieter, more unsuspecting, bookshops. From word-of-mouth I had heard about a little bookshop cafe hidden away in the less-bustling Yau Ma Tei area in Kowloon. After a couple of false-starts, I finally found my way to the bookshop one Thursday afternoon and it has quickly become one of my favourite places to relax and hang out in Hong Kong.
Not only does Kubrick sell a wonderful collection of English and Chinese books – ranging from history, politics, gender studies, travel and literature – but it is also a charming little cafe, too. My staple has become the mint latte which is delicious, though I hear they also have lavender and rose latte’s which I will try as soon as it is payday! They also have a substantial food menu and everything I have tried so far is excellent.
My favourite time to go is in the mornings when it is quiet and peaceful – it starts to get a bit busier in the afternoons. I always judge a bookshop on how good it is by whether or not they stock some of my favourite authors. Kubrick does not disappoint. There is a large collection of Angela Carter, Margaret Atwood and Marilynne Robinson books, amongst many other ‘great’ writers, plus there is a whole section of gender studies books.
I can never leave Kubrick without a book purchase (usually 3-4 books!). So far I have accumulated 8 books in total!
From top to bottom:
- We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson – first published in 1962, We Have Always Lived in the Castle tells the tale of the Blackwood family, of which only Merricat and her sister, Constance, as well as their ailing uncle, Julian, remain. Having survived an attack of arsenic at a family dinner, the Blackwood’s are confined to their lonely mansion at the edge of a village who hate them.
- Living My Life by Emma Goldman – an ‘anarchist, political orator, drama critic, theorist of revolution, advocate of birth control and free love’, Goldman’s autobiography covers her life in czarist Russia to the ‘socialist enclaves of Manhattan’s Lower East Side’.
- Birds of America by Lorrie Moore – a collection of short stories by one of the best short-story writers at work today (according to the blurb). I have always wanted to read Lorrie Moore’s short stories so went with Birds of America with no prior knowledge of which collection to start with.
- The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath edited by Karen V. Kukil – I finally found a decently priced copy of Sylvia Plath’s journals in Kubrick so can’t wait to dip in and out of this throughout the year.
- The Woman Destroyed by Simone de Beauvoir – three ‘immensely intelligent stories about the decay of passion’ by one of my favourite authors. Simone de Beauvoir draws on the lives of three women who are experiencing unexpected crises.
- A Very Easy Death by Simone de Beauvoir – apparently considered as one of de Beauvoir’s masterpieces, I couldn’t resist buying this. A moving, day-by-day account of her mother’s death, A Very Easy Death is an extremely personal and profound story that ‘reveals a new side of the author’.
- A Good Man is Hard to Find by Flannery O’Connor – considered as one of the best American short-story collections, I was first intrigued by the title of this book. I was further intrigued by the blurb, which states that these stories ‘show O’Connor’s unique, grotesque view of life – infused with religious symbolism, haunted by apocalyptic possibility, sustained by the tragic comedy of human behaviour, confronted by the necessity of salvation’.
- This is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett – an award-winning author of fiction, this is Patchett’s body of non-fiction, which she wrote to help sustain herself and make a living whilst she was writing her novels.