Monday, March 29, 2010

Ode on a Used Bookstore

Anyone who knows me is fully aware of how much I love a good bookstore. Even just having a book section improves most stores in my estimation. A good used bookstore, though, is somewhere I can spend hour upon joyous hour, completely oblivious to anything but how much the growing pile of books I'm carrying is going to cost. Then, of course, comes the inevitable whittling away of my selections until I reach an affordable compromise.

Good used bookstores combine a sort of grubby natural light (filtered either through dusty windows or great window displays) with tall shelves filled to the brim with books. Really good used bookstores have multiple levels (or rooms) and categories written by hand on something resembling construction paper. In short, they are charming in a cluttered sort of way.

Because I would rather buy books than most other things (leaving aside, of course, food, tea and beer) finding used bookstores in all the places I live is pretty essential. Book-buying can become an expensive habit if you're not careful, and if you move a lot, a used bookstore can help you decrease the weight of your boxes.

Bookslut ran a great piece this month about why used books are more satisfying than new ones, and various Toronto sites have listed their top city used bookstores. I would also like to compile a list of great bookstores (both used and new, as long as they aren't chains) from cities across Canada. Feel free to leave suggestions in the comments, or e-mail me directly, and once I have ten or so suggestions, I'll start posting them.


  1. I'm way too addicted to used bookstores. Probably the best one I've found was Wayfarer Books in downtown Kingston; just the right used-bookstore atmosphere, plus a great selection. Unfortunately, I haven't found anything similar out here in B.C.

  2. Pulpfiction books. Here in Vancouver. Check that!

  3. The best used book store I have ever been to is in the Glebe in Ottawa. Absolutely stunning, two-story high shelves filled with every kind of book imaginable, not to mention the wonderful rolling ladders:
    I bought a very old copy of Stephen Leacock's Sunhine Sketches of a Little Town.

  4. Gustavo - probably the only you know, right?April 1, 2010 at 7:32 PM

    Here is a list of bookstores where I have lovingly spent endless hours of my life:
    Type at Trinity Bellwoods.
    The Cookbook Store across the street from the Reference Library.
    This Ain't The Rosedale Library in Kensington Market, see, The Guardian list from the time they were on Church Street.
    Abbey Bookshop - La Librairie Canadienne in Paris (I think the only Canadian book shop in the world???), which is around the corner from Shakespeare & Co., another Parisian classic and still in Paris, Gilbert Jeune, of course.
    In the big league as well: Strand Bookstore in NY: 18 miles of books, lots of used, fantastic!
    In Rio, Livraria Leonardo da Vinci, Livraria da Travessa, any of the used stores at Rua do Carmo and the street book market that resembles the one in Amsterdam, which is also espectacular.
    Ok, got a little excited here, but bookstores, Angela?


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