24 April 2021

Our Favourite Independent Bookstores

Given the year(s) we've had we figured we could use our tiny little platform of our moms and their friends to shout out some independent bookstores that we love for independent bookstore day. Don't kid yourself, Indigo is our favourite place to waste an afternoon, but we know indie bookstores are important and need our love more than ever right now.

In no particular order, here are some of our favourite independent bookstores. If you happen to find yourselves in one of these random locations one day, you'll know who to thank for the recommendation.

This is hands down my favourite of the used bookstore 'circuit' in downtown London, ON. It's on Dundas St. over by the Music Hall and they always have the cutest little stand out front with all their sale novels. It's three full floors and such a cute, old building with creaky wood floors and tin cielings. What I love about it is that it's extremely bright, not squishy, and well organized. My favourite thing is that they have a "new" cart so when I used to go almost weekly I didn't need to go back over all the shelves again to see what had been added. Not so useful now that I live in Thorndale and get there maybe 2x a year. 

Back in the pre-covid days they would sometimes host events and I was lucky enough to see Dave Huebert do a reading for the publishing of Peninsula Sinking there years ago. They also sell a ton of cute literary art, handmade cards, old maps of London, etc. Obviously, they are closed due to the current lockdown in Ontario but they are doing online orders and have even curated a number of different 'gift bundles' to send out to get people through this madness. They will also buy your used books if you set up an appointment for them to go through them (when open of course). - MG https://atticbooks.ca/

This is the largest independent bookstore in SW Florida and its conveniently in Punta Gorda right near my parents' vacation home. The first time we went my family started nagging me to hurry up after only ten minutes but now we've all learned our lesson and I go with my mom and am left alone until I'm done. 

This place is massive. It's floor to ceiling books over multiple different rooms. They have cool ladders to check the upper shelves and archways to new rooms built entirely of books. It's truly what dreams are made of. The unfortunate thing about used book shopping in Florida is that everything has to come home in your luggage but if you ever happen to find yourself out this way you won't regret checking it out. - MG https://www.sandmanbooks.com/

This is the best used book store in New Brunswick. It is super well organized and curated, and they have all the books digitally logged so they can check to see if they have a copy of whatever you are hunting down. Prices are always written in the top right hand corner of the first page of the book (in pencil, so you can easily erase). I've picked up many Margaret Atwood books here, and my all-time favourite find was Joan Didion's fiction book Democracy. Scheherazade is also super central uptown, so it is easy to get too. Stefan and I would always take a look around after having a quesadilla lunch at Big Tide. - MH https://www.scheherazadebooks.com/

This is a cute little bookstore in Elora, ON. and it feels very fresh and spacious unlike some of the others I've included in this list. When I was there in August they had a 'blind date with a book' promotion going where you bought a wrapped book without knowing what it was based on a few genre and synopsis points alone. I found this very charming but it's not something I would ever consider doing myself. 

Elora is such a pretty town to walk around with loads of cool shops and Cordial Clove is worth setting some time aside for if you're heading that way. - MG https://www.cordialclovebooks.com/

Vanessa and Jason who run Brown & Dickson are antiquarian booksellers so they have some of the coolest items around. For example, when I went once they had the full Anne of Green Gables collection with the original covers, and the team there love a hunt if you're looking for something rare or out of print. 

We've been lucky enough to work with these two in the past and I may have a bias, but they are doing something so unique in downtown London and if you truly love books you'll want to stop in. They were also kind enough to offer to host our bibliotaphs book club when that was still a thing but I had to inform them that our entire membership was remote and over 50% don't usually read the book club book. - MG https://brownanddickson.com/

This used bookstore is located in Bangor, Maine, and I've actually never been in person. But this bookstore will always be my favourite because it is where my parents hunted down my most rare and cherished books - out of print Didions and John Gregory Dunnes. I love hearing my parents talk about this experience ... my dad went in alone and told the clerk he was looking for any books by John Gregory Dunne. And the clerk replied "ahhh, Joan Didion's husband," which is my favourite reply of all time. My parents bought me Didion's About Henry and Dunne's Dutch Shea Jr., Harp, and Crooning and mailed them all to me in London, Ontario. I remember feeling super homesick, and then out of no where received that package of books from my parents. It was sooooo nice, and always makes me think fondly of this bookstore. - MH https://www.facebook.com/Pro-Libris-Bookshop-111534922219377/

Everything I said I liked about Attic Books is completely untrue of City Lights. The place is dimly lit, over crowded, and somewhat chaotic feeling, but there is something so cool about this store that I always need to go. It's two floors but the upstairs is mostly used records and the books are mostly on the main floor. For looking so disheveled the place is surprisingly organized. 

It's hard to imagine ever walking in here with my parents because they would feel immediately claustrophobic, but it's worth checking out if you're ever in downtown London and can stomach being squeezed between old bookshelves for an afternoon. They also carry a lot of 'other' items like cards, DVDs, etc. -MG http://www.citylightsbookshop.ca/

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