Buy Books Here: Nicholas Hoare

June 2, 2011

If you buy your books anywhere besides an independent bookstore, we’re going to have words. So unless you really need Heather Reisman telling you what to read (in which case I can’t help you), just stop it. If you live in Toronto, you have no excuse: you’re spoiled for choice in regards to beautiful independent bookstores full of personality. I’m certainly biased, but I’m also right. There is nothing like a great bookshop staffed by people who live for books and can recommend seventeen books that you or your dad or your grandma or your little sister who doesn’t even read would love. A great bookstore immediately feels like home. Chapters feels like a mall that happens to sell books. A great bookstore sells books, not soap. Sheesh.

The first bookstore to be celebrated in what will probably be a regular feature with me rambling about my favourite bookstores and how great they smell is Nicholas Hoare, the obvious choice since they (somewhat mystifyingly) employed me for six years and taught me any number of useful things, like how to build a fire and how short skirts sell more books.

(I stole this lovely picture from the website of author Terry Fallis. I trust he won’t mind, as he seems to be a fan of the place himself.) Nicholas Hoare is a just plain beautiful store. Golden wood with forest green trim, high ceilings, fireplace, skylight, library ladders that make you feel like you’re in a fairy tale – it never got old, even while working there all the time. And it smells great, especially when the fireplace is going. People would walk through the door and need to stop for a second to take it in. The thing I miss most about the place is always smelling like books. I thought about trying Demeter’s Paperback perfume, but it just wasn’t the same as standing in a room full of books for eight hours a day. I haven’t been on the payroll for years, but I still stop in to the Hoare whenever I’m in the neighbourhood to say hello and inhale the glorious scent of paper.

They’ve undergone a change of management since I worked there, but it’s more or less the same place. The stock leans towards British (especially in the mysteries), but they’ve got a thorough selection of new releases in both fiction and non-fiction, a great cookbook section, and tons of gorgeous art books. They’ve also become effective Twitterers – you can follow them here for book advice and author spottings. Everyone there is lovely and well-read and helpful if you need it, but unobtrusive if you just want to browse in silence.

And one time I sold two books of poetry to Princess Vespa.

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