Did you know that being literate is the hot, new thing? There’s nothing sexier than whipping out a 200 pound, gently used copy of Infinite Jest to prove to your peers and suitors that you can read. Alas, the student budget does not leave much room for literacy — perhaps this is why we’re all rocking 2.0s. But fear not, for there is a small but resilient breed of saviours for you and your wallet — the used bookstore. Get your to-read list ready, because these bookstores are waiting.
Tucked away under the bustle of Bloor Street West is an oasis of worn reads and cozy corners. It may not be much to look at from the outside as it’s quite literally half underground, but you would be remiss to walk past it. This bookstore is a TARDIS — bigger on the inside with a wide selections of books that will fulfill all your inner geek needs. Fans of the occult will be right at home next to die-hard Austenites. Mystery lovers can read in harmony with Canadiana scholars, including those interested in Indigenous history. The prices are likewise some of the best around. Also, there’s a cat in this bookstore. Need I say more?
She Said Boom!
As soon as you enter this shop, you are greeted by a seemingly endless stretch of vinyl records and CDs that would bring any audiophile to tears. Add to that the tall shelves of books lining the walls and you have a perfect mix of audio and visual. This delightful shop near Kensington Market stocks everything from literature to cookbooks to graphic novels. Another branch can also be found in Roncesvalles Village. Both are fantastic places to wile away a few hours flipping through records and books alike.
If Plato could have seen this bookstore, he might have reconsidered the idea that the perfect form does not exist. Am I really qualified to be talking about Plato? No, but Balfour Books makes me think that I’m smart enough to pretend I am. This invitingly musty store is packed to the brim with books bursting out of shelves and leaning-over stacks. The hardwood floors and the hidden corners make you feel warm and safe, not to mention that the staff are always friendly and ready to chat. Mark your calendars, because this bookstore is having a half price sale from March 23–26.
Sellers & Newel Second-Hand Books
As much as we are all visiting bookstores in our own noble pursuit of knowledge, it must also be said that this bookstore is very insta-worthy, as the kids say. Beautiful chandeliers hang over a wide selection of books, with a particular emphasis on poetry, drama, and science fiction. James Joyce and Samuel Beckett fans will also be happy to find a section dedicated solely to these two authors. The store’s website also does not lie when it says that Sellers & Newel sell a good amount of “weird fiction.” Though this bookstore is small, its wide-ranging selection will make you feel as if you have the whole history of literature at your fingertips.
A Good Read
A stroll through Roncesvalles Village would not be complete without a stop in this immense bookshop, both in size and range. A walk through the length of this story will bring you past sections on graphic novels, literature, children’s books, and Canadiana. One of the major draws of this bookstore is in the back portion, which is entirely dedicated to rare books, many of them signed first editions. Both the book-lover and the book-lover’s friend would revel in the gift selection, which offers a wide array of trinkets and treasures.
Abundance is one word to describe this store, which is so full of books that it’s easy to spend a few hours ambling through the aisles and reading spines until you have a crick in your neck. The best thing about this bookstore — after the books themselves — are the very reasonable prices. It’s easy to find the book you’re looking for and nab it at a discount that makes your bank account sing hallelujah. The selection of comic books and graphic novels is particularly good, though readers of all kinds will likely find a shelf suited to their needs.