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Guide to Melbourne for readers, writers and literary lovers 

19 January 2024

Indulge in Melbourne’s literary scene with free creative writing classes, reading lists, local libraries and more. 

Being a writer or reader in Melbourne is a novel idea. We’re the first UNESCO City of Literature in Australia, and the second only after Edinburgh – the birthplace of Harry Potter and Trainspotting. 

Read on to indulge in Melbourne’s bohemian, bookish culture with free creative writing classes, carefully curated reading lists and our charming cluster of community libraries. Or follow these links to skip to sections of interest.

Submit your writing to the Lord Mayor’s Creative Writing Awards 

The Lord Mayor’s Creative Writing Awards celebrate local emerging literary talent. 

Set yourself a deadline and find support with creative writing workshops to put pen to paper and prepare for submission.  

The awards will open for submissions on Monday 1 April 2024 and close at midnight on Monday 1 July 2024. 

E.W. Cole Foundation trustee Tony Balfe celebrates the unveiling of the new “Palace of Intellect” sign in Howey Place. This was the colloquial name for the Coles Book Arcade, a magnificent bookshop opened by Edward William Cole in the 1800s. The place boasted more than one million books, as well as toys and curios over multiple levels, a fernery, a live pianist, funny mirrors and even monkeys.

Make your own writer’s retreat and explore libraries in the City of Melbourne 

Have you made a resolution to pen the next great Australian novel, memoir or essay? Gather your literary friends or schedule some solo writing time in one of our many libraries.  

Seek inspiration from the many great works born right here in our municipality, including international best-seller, The Dry by Jane Harper. 

Find your closest library to increase that word count, explore books, events, makerspaces and more. 

Make your own writer’s retreat at our local libraries

Looking for what to read this year? 

Did you set an ambitious reading target this year? Melburnians consume more books, magazines and newspapers per capita than any other city in Australia, and there’s no end of titillating titles to sink your teeth into.  

Hitting that reading goal couldn’t be easier with our online catalogue. Reserve a title from our many libraries and get a notification when it’s available for pick up at your local branch.  

There are also a range of eBooks and eAudiobooks in our catalogue and a mobile library service – Mel-Van – if you can’t make it into one of our libraries. 

Snap up your next read with our what to read next suggestions. 

Reading nook at our narrm ngarrgu Library

Read books written by Melbourne authors 

Melbourne is home to a number of internationally acclaimed authors such as Helen Garner, Tony Birch, Jennifer Down, Maxine Beneba Clarke, Alice Pung and more. 

Read between the lines and explore our city through their writing, keeping an eye out for iconic landmarks.  

Find more local reads with our essential Melbourne reads book list, or books set in Melbourne suggestions. 

Explore Melbourne’s best bookshops 

Support our local writers by picking up some bookshelf bling or adding to that towering to-be-read pile at Melbourne’s many iconic bookshops. 

Follow their social media accounts for updates on events with local artists and for news of signed copies to add to your collection. 

Hill of Content bookshop on Bourke Street 

Tune in to Melbourne’s top podcasts about books and writing 

Here in Melbourne, we talk pretty when it comes to our books, authors and literary scene. Whether you’re after book recommendations or author interviews, we have you covered with these locally grown and recorded pods. 

Got an idea for your own literary podcast? Book one of our podcast studios at Library at The Dock, Kathleen Syme Library and Community Centre or our new flagship library – narrm ngarrgu

The podcast studio at our narrm ngarrgu Library.

Join a book club in Melbourne 

Discover literary gems in a friendly environment, and meet fellow book lovers in your community by coming along to one of our upcoming book clubs

Some book clubs are focused on a theme, for example crime or classics, some read a specific book each month and some are open to talking about whatever you have been reading lately. 

Seek inspiration with a free tour of Melbourne  

Look no further than Melbourne’s streets and laneways for a spark of literary inspiration with our self-guided walks and itineraries.  

From art and music to history and architecture, these themed tours will help you uncover new stories, imagine interesting characters and banish writer’s block for good. 

Get crafty at our City of Melbourne makerspaces 

Take your love of books to a whole new level with the makerspaces in our local libraries

Sew a Harry Potter invisibility cloak, quilt, monogram or embroider your very own Hungry Caterpillar quilt, 3D print a Lord of the Rings replica ring, or fashion some I heart Jane Austen stickers and badges. 

Pick up a new creative hobby or skill to take home today, and celebrate what you’ve made by tagging us on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook or Pinterest using #MakerMelbLibraries.  

The Wheeler Centre

Connect with Melbourne’s local literary community 

There’s no better place than Melbourne to be a writer or book lover. Tap into the local literary community with the following resources: 

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