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.

Book Haul: The Oxford Illustrated History of Britain

Cover of The Oxford Illustrated History of Britain

I try to be picky about coffee table books, since I have more of them now than I could ever possibly display on my coffee table. But this one made it through.

I’ve been wanting a digestible history of Britain for a while (mainly since stumbling my way through the Wars of the Roses via Shakespeare). Nothing signals digestible more than the word “Illustrated,” right? By the time I get to 1066 and All That I’ll be a veritable expert in the field.

Unexpectedly one of my favourite finds of the year so far.

Book Haul: The Remains of the Day

Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro

I was thrilled to find Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day at one of the charity book sales a couple weeks ago. I recently read one of his books for the first time (you’ll find out which one when I post a review sometime in the next 50 years) and it was great. But this is the famous one.

Again, a great example of how book sales can be a source of fun older editions, for a fraction of the cost of a new one. I’m always on the lookout for old Penguins.

Also, my browser has been changing “Kazuo” to “Kazoo” which I think is also a good name for a writer. Pynchon would approve.

Book Haul: Two big sales in YYC

A stack of books on a desk, lit by a desk lamp
Haul.

Every year, Calgary has two charity book sales in the same month, usually within a couple weekends of each other, and occasionally (as happened this year) overlapping on the same weekend. The first is the Servants Anonymous sale at Crossroads Market, and the second is the CBC Calgary Reads sale at the Calgary Curling Club. Last weekend I went to both of them. Continue reading “Book Haul: Two big sales in YYC”

More on Rachel Carson, and blog updates

The Sea
The seaside.

PBS recently put out a fantastic documentary on Rachel Carson. Watch it to learn more about her life:

American Experience: Rachel Carson

I wish I had seen this before I published my last review. For one thing, I was mistaken to suggest that Silent Spring was the breakthrough work of an unknown civil servant. Her previous book, The Sea Around Us, from 1951, was a bestseller. By the time Silent Spring was published over ten years later, Rachel Carson was already a known and beloved chronicler of the natural world. Continue reading “More on Rachel Carson, and blog updates”