Recently, Stephen Marche wrote a great article in Esquire on "How to Quit Amazon and Shop in an Actual Bookstore", and it got us thinking about some of our fondest independent bookstore memories.
Growing up in Toronto, Carol's early bookstore fixes were pretty much limited to trips to the Coles in the suburban mall for Coles Notes, and later, treks downtown on the rocket to the World's Biggest Bookstore. Who needed atmosphere and charm when surrounded with such mega selection? It was a local mecca for bookworms, especially during one of their infamous "remainder" sales. Nicholas Hoare on Front Street finally gave the city a bookstore with old-world charm, class, and a treasure trove of fiction. It was the best place to both meet someone and to lose one's self.
A student at McGill, Rachelle spent a lot of time at The Word on Milton Street, just a stone's throw away from campus. A second-hand bookstore devoid of expensive wood shelving and an espresso machine (not that there's anything wrong with that!), this little gem, first opened in 1975, was once likened to "stepping into someone's cluttered home library." It was (and still is) home to countless great reads at great prices, and it didn't hurt that they sold used textbooks as well!
Thankfully, there are still a handful of great independent bookstores standing. In Vancouver, we have Kidsbooks, which is hands down the place where our kids will foster their own early bookstore memories. And Barbara-jo's Books to Cooks, named one of bon appétit's favourite cookbook stores in the world, serves up a selection of cookbooks, tea, and culinary events that is unrivalled.
As Marche puts it, "Buying books in a bookstore is one of life's great, quiet pleasures. It leads to the purchase of better books. It leads to a deeper relationship to reading. It is a joy in and of itself." So, go on: get lost in one of your local independent bookstores!