Laura Norris – Mad Hatters Bookshop

A lifelong love of books brought Laura to her dream job of owning and managing her very own Magical and Enchanted world.  That’s her description of the Mad Hatters Bookshop.  Set in the heart of Manly Harbour Village ‘Mad Hatters’ is an eclectic mix of books that attracts the young and older reader alike.

Laura grew up in a family that valued a good education and her devouring books from an early age.  She was so keen on reading that she ‘borrowed’ books from the Manly State School library forgetting to return them.  Laughter rather than fines was the case when she admitted this to the school some plus 20 years on.

Working in a bookshop was her dream job but of all things she failed a math’s test of on applying for her first job at a QBD Bookshop.  She self-taught herself photography and ran a wedding photography business for several years after high school.  Laura combined work and study with an Arts Degree specialising in Literature and Creative Writing.

Now owner and manager since 2019 of Mad Hatters Bookshop she admits that strangely she had never set foot into the store, thinking it catered more for children. She heard of a job going and joined original owner Ann-Marie in managing the bookshop, eventually taking an ever more hands on role.

Laura says the shop name owes itself to Ann-Marie’s love of Alice in Wonderland who, using her illustrator background, set out to create a Magical and Enchanted world focused mainly on children.  The addition of a Harry Potter room with books and paraphernalia has added to this Magical World.

Adults are drawn to the bookshop with its new releases, wide range of books and the chance to chat with Laura and her team on recommendations.  It’s this personal service Laura says that makes visiting a bookshop an experience enjoying “the tactile feel of a book”.

She sees the future of books bright especially amongst children with parents and grandparents buying them as gifts and Mad Hatters bringing pop-up bookshops to many schools.  This connection with children has led to a second edition of ‘Whimsical Tales’ being published with a cross section of short stories from 7–14-year-olds from Wynnum Manly.  “The genres covered were from Gothic Horror to Historical Fiction with Magical Realism” says Laura, showing that young imagination is as strong as ever.

She loves the Village feel of Manly where shop owners and customers know each other.  Keeping this community vibe alive Laura believes will be the ongoing strength of Manly Harbour Village