A couple weeks ago was Independent Bookstore Day and I celebrated by visiting my local bookstore, you know, as you do on Independent Bookstore Day. I promised myself I would only buy one book, but of course that quickly went out the window. I came home with two books and a pack of notebooks. Being a bibliophile is hard on one’s wallet.
I’ve been to my fair share of bookstores (not including chain stores like Chapters) over the years, most in Ontario, but some international. So, here’s a quick list of my favourite bookstores!
Starlight Books (R.I.P.) – Newmarket, Ontario
I had to start with this one because it is the sorely missed bookstore in my hometown. It was a mixture of new and used books, with many treasures to be found. The store itself was quite large, with multiple rooms and little back corners all filled with bookish adventures.
I bought my first Stephen King novels at Starlight, which started off a strange love of horror books.
The store closed down years ago now, because the lease was just too expensive and it was in the middle of the bookstore slump (thanks Amazon). I suspect if the store was open now, it would do better.
Sadly, no other independent bookstores have opened in the area, so Starlight has left quite a big hole.
Blue Heron Books – Uxbridge, Ontario
The next closest to me is my adoptive local bookstore, Blue Heron Books. It’s far enough away that I don’t get there as much as I’d like, but when I have visited, it’s been a delightful experience.
The atmosphere is so welcoming and friendly. The small(ish) store is full of books, books, and more books! It feels like a place where you could stay and browse for hours, with comfy chairs to sit on.
The bookstore hosts events of all shapes and sizes, author readings, “Books and Brunch” with local authors, and a book club. They even offer not-necessarily-book related classes in their studio.
As of this year (2019), they’re celebrating their 30th bookstore birthday! I’m super happy for them, because Blue Heron is such an amazing space. So glad the store isn’t that far away and I can pay a visit once in a while.
The Book Lady – Fenelon Falls, Ontario
A little bit farther a field is The Book Lady. This cozy little hidden gem has a wide variety of new and used treasures. It’s hard not to get absorbed by the close shelving in the fantasy/sci-fi/mystery/horror sections.
Like many bookstores, The Book Lady also offers coffee and tea and giftware for bookworms (like me)! I bought a cat and book themed mug during a visit.
I may or may not have taken a trip to Fenelon Falls JUST to visit this store…
The owner Dana Deathe (pronounced ‘deeth’), is living the dream honestly.
Read and Green Bookstore – Brighton
This bookstore was a bit of a random find on a camping trip last year. It’s a bit of a hidden gem, as Brighton isn’t that big of a place. It’s a used bookstore, which is means that it’s full of secret treasures.
The store is long and narrow and has a bit of a cozy chaotic feel, in only the way used bookstores can. There’s something magical about getting lost in the bookshelves.
On this trip, I found a 40s vintage set of L.M. Montgomery’s Anne series.
Mr. B’s Emporium of Reading Delights – Bath, England
This is my favourite international bookstore! It was one of the best places I got to visit in 2017 when I was in the UK for my cousin’s wedding. Bath is a wonderful city anyway and I wish we had a little more time there (the city and the bookstore).
Unfortunately, we had to be quick in Mr. B’s, so I didn’t get to fully immerse myself in the wonderland that is the store. It has a bibliotherapy room! BIBLIOTHERAPY!
But I did pick up The Power by Naomi Alderman, which was fantastic.
The place is book heaven. They offer book spa treatments and will ship personalized book subscriptions to your door. Just thinking about it makes me want to melt into a bibliophile puddle. They also host plenty of bookish events, book launches, author readings, etc.
There we have it, my favourite bookstores. If you live in Ontario, I hope this gives you some bookstore road trip ideas. Even if you’re just visiting Ontario, check these out. And if you’re ever in Bath, be sure to check out Mr. B’s… I mean it.
What are some of your favourite bookstores? I’m always looking for new recommendations, so feel free to share!