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August 12, 2020

I Went to a Bookstore!

I like how no mask could hide how happy I am in this photo.

My last bookshop visit was March 8, a stop in at The Nautical Mind, the marine-themed bookshop on Toronto’s Harbourfront. Not that this experience was the end of me buying books, of course. By the end of that week, I’d already placed my first online order with a local bookshop to have a couple of books delivered to my door, and this would continue throughout the spring—I got books from Ben McNally, Book City, Queen Books, Ella Minnow Books, Flying Books, and probably others. One great thing about having absolutely nothing else to spend money on through April and May was that I could fulfill all my book-buying dreams and then some, which really did raise my spirits and help tide me over while the libraries were closed.

Most of the shops doing curbside pick-ups were just a little bit too far out of my way for me to take advantage of this, but I did finally get to partake in July when I ordered a stack from Little Island Comics. A recent development in my life is that I now have a bike, with a basket, and riding home with that basket full of books was exhilarating.

But not quite as exhilarating as my annual trip to Lighthouse Books a few weeks later, a pilgrimage we making on our camping trip to Presqu’ile Provincial Park and one I never take for granted even during the best of times. It wasn’t so long ago that we weren’t even sure Ontario campgrounds were going to open this year, so everything that weekend seemed especially precious. Lighthouse Books had only opened up for customers a week before, and so the timing was great.

While many of the Covid measures in place right now put a damper on fun, one I don’t hate entirely is the rule that whatever you touch in a bookstore, you must necessarily buy. Okay, then! Lighthouse Books had the most appealing table set up by the door, and in no time I had my mitts on an Attica Locke book I’d been meaning to read for years. By this point, shop owner Kathryn had already greeted me by name, which is remarkable when you consider that my face was covered in a mask AND I only visit once a year, but this is part of the reason that Kathryn is so good at owning a bookstore. The other part of the reason is the marvellous curation of her shelves—doesn’t the photo above make your heart swoon?

I ended up getting that copy of Hamnet and Judith, by Maggie O’Farrell you can see on the right-hand side of the middle shelf—and oh, it blew my mind, that book, plus books for my kids to read. One of my greatest parenting accomplishments is that I’ve somehow convinced my children that sitting around with a book is integral to the camping experience, mostly likely because it really is. And then I got sign a copy of Mitzi Bytes (and no, I don’t love this bookstore just because they always have a copy of my novel in stock, but it helps), and talk to Kathryn for a few minutes…before it was time to go, because my family was waiting for me outside, and also because there were other book buyers who were lined up at the door.

PS I love that a bookshop visit has never not been remarkable.

PPS Thanks to DoveGreyReader whose bookshop post (her first since buying the new Hilary Mantel in March) inspired my own.

4 thoughts on “I Went to a Bookstore!”

  1. theresa says:

    I was lucky in that our local bookstore, Talewind Books, remained open, with reduced hours and lots of safeguards. Bev Shaw would bring your order to the curb or deliver once a week to the lower Coast but best of all, you could wear your mask, sanitize your hands, and browse if you felt brave. I did, a couple of times! A blessing…

    1. Kerry says:

      I love the way that businesses have responded to the moment and found ways to keep going and keep customers safe.

  2. Diane says:

    Oh yes, I understand. Going through and spending time in a bookstore is my favourite way to shop. When my mom was alive our favourite ‘dates’ were always going to our favourite indie bookstore. We’d easily spend an hour or more. I still enjoy it, though the pandemic has put a damper on all that lingering. It’s more of a quick in and out but the joy is being inside!
    Oh and I love that you have a basket on your bike and can now fill it with books.

  3. Oh, Kerry, I feel so fortunate that you come by during your annual trip to Presquile Park. Your enthusiasm when you visited during our early re-opening days and your kind words here in this article are such a boost for our bookstore spirits. I always love talking books with you and so appreciate the way you advocate for indie bookstores. Soon we’ll happily be adding your new novel to our shelf beside Mitzi Bytes 🙂

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