The Sunday Salon: The joy of bookstore hopping

Sunday, March 15, 2015

The Sunday 
Salon.com

Hello again from Toronto! We have been here for about a week now and will leave the city in a couple of days to head to Quebec City, a trip I am schoolgirl-excitedly looking forward to. We will be in Canada another week or so before heading back home to routine, work, and hopefully warm weather.

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I spent a good chunk of this week in bookstores. Shopping for books was not even something I planned for this trip but after discovering that Toronto is home to so many amazing bookstores, I had to squeeze them into my trip plans. I've been to a total of 7 bookstores in the city, one on Sunday, one on Tuesday, two on Thursday, and three yesterday. Honestly, I'm shocked. I haven't done bookshop hopping ever, much less spend so much time over a few days in bookstores.

To me, Toronto downtown is certainly a much easier place to drive in than most other big city downtowns I've been to, which isn't many. I guess it helped having one of those tourist maps, the kind that boast about the many must-see places in downtown, complete with major road markings and parking spot indicators. So on Tuesday, when the husband and I were driving to meet a friend in downtown near his workplace, I immediately picked my map to see which bookstore was in the vicinity. As we walked into the Eliot's Bookshop, the owner immediately warned us that they were closing. I was a little bummed out - who wouldn't be when a book-shopping plan gets derailed? But he asked us if we were looking for something specific, to which we replied that we just wanted to browse. For whatever reason, he amiably let us in for "a few seconds". And then he divulged that there were three stories of books. Huh, excuse me? How was I going to get through three stories of books in "a few seconds"? I decided not to book-browse while the clock was ticking in my head and come back later, but the friend who was meeting us took us to another nearby bookstore, from where I snagged four great steals, including a Walking Dead volume.

Since the husband had to work most of this week, I spent one morning by myself at the downtown, doing... more book shopping! I went back to Eliot's Bookshop, where I spent about two hours on the second floor which housed all the literature titles. I think I may have picked about 8 books here, but the one I was most surprised to find was The Raw Shark Texts, which Wendy of Literary Feline recommended a few weeks back. I had looked for this title everywhere and then decided to buy it later whenever I got to it in my TBR. And there it was sitting at the top of a shelf, right where I wouldn't miss it.

I had a similar experience yesterday when I went to She Said Boom!, where I found a gorgeous copy of Ismail Kadare's The Accident, which had been on my wishlist for a while but wasn't easily available anywhere. It is experiences like these that make me so thankful for used bookstores. Sure, I will probably find both these books in less than a minute on Amazon or Barnes and Noble online, but there is something to be said about coming across a much-awaited gem of a book where you least expect it. It almost feels like getting an early Christmas present.

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Another used bookstore I went to, BMV Books, had brand-new looking paperbacks and hardcovers. If I didn't know that this was a used bookstore, I would have thought that this was a new books store. But with the shiny books shelved at this store, I was very surprised when I saw plenty of books for 5 CAD or under, including a hardcover copy of Nick Hornby's Juliet, Naked!

The backseat of our car is now stuffed with all my book purchases. I had to fight a strong desire to bring them all up to our hotel room, so that I can surround myself with them, maybe even do a photo shoot with them. But of course, we will have to take them back to the car again for our return so it didn't seem like a sensible thing to do. I will put up a post of all the books once I return back to Virginia.

29 comments:

tanya (52 books or bust) said...

Toronto has always spoiled me for other cities I've lived in. So many good bookstores. It's heaven.

Kay said...

See, for me, bookstore hopping would make a great vacation. Thanks for sharing it with us! Enjoy the rest of your trip.

bermudaonion(Kathy) said...

How fun to have so many options!

Trish said...

Oh I absolutely love this!! I grew up in Toronto suburbs (well, 25 years ago) but everytime we visit we stay with family so only go into the city for a few hours at a time. I would love to go and stay downtown and really really explore the city. If you like Greek food, make sure to hit The Danforth! Yummmmm. :) Enjoy your stay...and jealous about your going to Quebec City. I've driven through Quebec but haven't been to the major cities before.


And OMG I totally think you should do a photoshoot with all those books. Think about it as a maternity shoot. :)

JoAnn @ Lakeside Musing said...

I need to go back to Toronto just for the bookstores! Can't wait to see your loot. Enjoy the rest of your trip :-)

biblioglobal said...

Oh what fun! I have an upcoming trip planned to a place with many bookstores I want to visit. But I'll be flying, not driving, so I'm going to have to restrain myself far more than I want.

Athira / Aths said...

Do you still live in Toronto? I love this city and this is probably one place I'd love to settle in. Definitely a very cultural, diverse, and wonderful place. And all those bookstores!!

Athira / Aths said...

I totally agree with that! I always try to hit one bookstore in the city I am visiting. But with there being so many bookstores here, I had to hit more of them.

Athira / Aths said...

It so is!

Athira / Aths said...

That is exactly what I was thinking - do a maternity shoot with the books, lol! I don't think I tried any Greek food here yet, though we did try some Mediterranean and some Middle Eastern. I will keep Danforth on my list - love Greek food! I love that you get to visit Toronto often. I knew that you grew up in Canada, but I didn't know where. Toronto is certainly one awesome place to be in.

Athira / Aths said...

Thanks a lot! :-)

Athira / Aths said...

You can always mail the books back to your home! :-)

Belle Wong said...

I love that you visited so many bookstores while you were here! This is on my to-do list this year, but sadly I haven't had a chance to visit any so far. I am SO close to BMV, too. I really need to just do it, and go bookstore hopping like you did!

tanya (52 books or bust) said...

No, i grew up there. I moved back a couple of years ago, but for some reason Toronto had lost its luster for me so I only stayed for 2 years. But my family is there so I get to visit all the time.

Ti Reed said...

Man, I haven't been to a bookstore in such a long time. I envy you! When we were able to take family vacations, I always made a point to visit the local stores but that hasn't happened in a really long time.

literaryfeline said...

That's a lot of bookstores to visit! How exciting! I do love to visit bookstores when I travel. :-) I am glad you found a copy of The Raw Shark Texts! I hope you like it. It's different. I am glad you are having a good time.

Jenny @ Reading the End said...

Definitely do not forgot to post your picture of all the books. I'd say that I'm jealous, except that would be insane because I quite recently acquired a living crap-ton of books at my library's enormous annual book sale. So I have just done most of my book-buying for the year.

Vasilly said...

Toronto sounds amazing! Almost like another Hay-on-Wye!

iliana said...

What a wonderful vacation! I hope you are still enjoying every minute of it! :)

Nishita said...

@Jenny @ Reading the End I'd love to see a picture of all your books :), Athira, your bookshop hopping sounds divine :)

Lisa Sheppard said...

Oh my goodness, what fun!

Athira / Aths said...

BMV is really awesome! You should check it out. I actually planned my route based on nearby parking places, but bus routes would be a great way to do it too. There were several different bookstores depending on which route I picked, so that's a lot of bookstore hopping right there!

Athira / Aths said...

I don't usually bookstore hop or even buy many books on vacation. The husband shared a post with me that listed all of Toronto's reputed bookstores, and I was like - that is exactly where I am going to spend my vacation.

Athira / Aths said...

I cannot wait to start with Raw Shark Texts! It sounds very intriguing. Thanks for recommending it!

Athira / Aths said...

It sure was!

Athira / Aths said...

It was fun throughout but I am glad to be back. I've realized that there is only so much vacation I can take at one go.

Athira / Aths said...

It probably was! Now I have to go to Hay-on-Wye and check out how that compares. But maybe, at least couple of years later.

Athira / Aths said...

Thanks! :-)

Athira / Aths said...

Now you have to post about the books you bought! Now that my trip is in the past and blogged about, I'm feeling nostalgic for more.