Cool Shop, Open Wallet (part 1)

Storefront of Wayfarer Books in Kingston, ON

Wayfarer Books Bought & Sold

85 Princess Street
Kingston, Ontario

Let’s take a break from going through my latest summer book sale haul, to inaugurate a new series. I think I’ll call it Cool Shop, Open Wallet. Over the past couple years I’ve been photographing the bookshops I visit, so I’m going to start posting about these exceptional places. They’re shops I frequent regularly, or did at some point in my life, or visited a single time while travelling. Either way, if I’m posting about them it’s because I loved what I saw there, and invariably opened my wallet to snag some of their fine inventory for myself.

The first in the series is Wayfarer Books in Kingston. This takes me back to my student days, before I had a blog or took photographs, back when my own book collection was probably one fifth of its present size. I spent my dishevelled student hours here when I wasn’t lost in the stacks at Stauffer or frantically typing in the reading room at Douglas Library, back when life turned on essays and eating. This was one of the first indie shops I explored in my indie life far from home. So Wayfarer started a serious habit.

One of the best things about this shop, besides the atmosphere and selection, is that some of the books bear extensive inscriptions by the storeowner. Don’t worry, he writes in pencil, but the descriptions are so interesting that you wouldn’t want to erase them anyway. You have to love that a shopkeeper takes the time to transcribe his knowledge of a particular volume for its future readers. Plus, now I always know which of my books came from here.

Among them: a fine old copy of Dante’s Divine Comedy, and W.H. Hudson’s Green Mansions.

Photo of an inscription on the inside of a book, $15Two books on a couch. The foreground volume is Dante's Divine Comedy

If you’re ever in Kingston, make time for this gem. One of its Google reviews places Wayfarer in league only with Shakespeare & Company in Paris and City Lights in San Fransisco. You may think that’s an exaggeration, but I say it’s exactly right.

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