Annie Grossman: a passionate bookseller on the books that formed and changed her life

Over the years we've bought our Sunshine Coast holiday reading at Annie's Books on Peregian, but we only recently met Annie Grossman in person. It was a real treat!


We were so impressed (charmed actually) by Annie's wit and passion, we asked if she'd share some of her favourite books with us and our readers. And what a great selection! But first, we asked if she would tell us a little about herself: 

Sure. I was born in Sydney to book-loving parents and when I was a teenager my father opened a lovely book shop in Mount Victoria in the Blue Mountains, dealing in first editions and rare books. I've always thought of books as treasures.

I’ve always thought of books as treasures

I've had a wonderful, interesting life—working in live-theatre stage management in Sydney, moving to the Whitsundays and working in tourism as well as running my own commercial diving company. On my way back to Sydney I found Noosa and got stuck! My two sons were born here, they're in their twenties now.

I studied English Literature and Ancient Literature as an external student of UNE and eventually found work in a local bookstore (staying for about 10 years), and then decided to try my luck with a tiny bookshop in Peregian Beach. 

I opened Annie’s Books on Peregian in August 2008, literally on the eve of the GFC ! There were a few very tough years, but we made it through and, although the retail book industry will always be hard, every day in the shop is a joy. 

We run loads of author events—large and small—and love our fiercely loyal clientele. I have two wonderful people working with me which takes the pressure off and allows me to work outside the confines of the shop, and have days off too!

And the books that have changed your life?

LORD OF THE RINGS is possibly one of the greatest works I've ever read. I'm not a fantasy reader, but Tolkien created a whole world with a history, literature, song, flora, fauna and more.  It came to me at an important time of my life—my slide into adulthood. I still read it every few years and find something new.

BORN FREE by Joy Adamson gave me a desire to see Africa and a love of all the cat family. I eventually got to Africa, have been twice in recent years and plan to go again next year. I love to read books, fiction and non-fiction based in Africa. 

THE SILVER BRUMBY by Elyne Mitchell made me a horse lover for life. The thirteen stories are based on a herd of wild brumbies in the Snowy Mountains of NSW. I recently revisited some of these stories—the writing stands the test of time—they're fabulous and exciting, with wonderful descriptions of the Australian bush.

SHOGUN by James Clavell. I read much of this book on a trip to Europe in my early 20s, and I remember finishing it and thinking "Well, I don’t need to read anything else". That book had everything!  Excitement, romance, history and more.  I must revisit it soon!

Other favourites?

I read a lot, as you can imagine, and I'm probably moved more these days by Australian writing. I'm a massive Tim Winton fan—my favourites of his are BLUEBACK and ISLAND HOME. I've met Tim a number of times as a bookseller and event organiser, but I feel that I know him much more than within that capacity. He seems to see the world as I do and I feel like his books are written specially for me. This intimacy he creates with the reader is unique—I wouldn’t have a clue how he does it!

I was recently entranced by the brand new memoir from Inga Simpson—UNDER STORY: A LIFE WITH TREES. Inga lives on the Sunshine Coast and we've done some events together. I've enjoyed her three novels and they've done very well. Her latest is Longlisted for the 2017 Miles Franklin Award. UNDER STORY has taken her to a new level—it's the story of her life, primarily on her precious 10 acres near Eudlo, and her understanding, love and connection with the natural world. Inga has an easy, lyrical style which places her in the top class of Australian contemporary authors.

Here's a little peek into Annie's personal library and reading nook: 

And by the way, this ocean is literally across the road from the bookstore:

As an independent bookseller, Annie has a wonderful store of knowledge about all sorts of books, for all ages and tastes. She is also a great supporter of writers—local, independent, national or international–and hosts wonderful author events too. So if you're on the beautiful Sunshine Coast any time, have a look and see what's coming up.

Thanks so much for being on WTBA Annie—we'll definitely be reading Under Story: A Life with Trees soon. (You can order any of the books (or others) from Annie here.)

... although the retail book industry will always be hard, every day in the shop is a joy.
— Annie Grossman