From the time I learned to love reading, Book City was always my neighbourhood destination. Alright, so it’s technically a chain of stores and maybe not quite as indie as the rest, but it’s a local chain we can all be proud of, with a great selection of Canadian and International titles, a chill vibe, and a friendly staff. Their locations in the Beaches and on Bloor are frequent haunts of mine too, but they don’t carry the significance to me that the Danforth Store does. My mom would take me there as a kid and buy me comics and picture books as a reward for behaving myself after a visit to the doctor’s office at the Albany Clinic. I thought I was getting a pretty sweet deal, but I realize now how proud she was to be passing down the family love of literacy to another generation.
A newer addition to the neighbourhood, but already a beloved one. Re:Reading is probably my favourite used bookstore in the entire city, with a quirky, helpful staff that seems to share my taste for classic science fiction and fantasy novels, going by the size of its selection in those genres . It’s the only place in the city I was able to find George R.R. Martin’s entire Wild Cards series. Believe me, I looked. Of course, other genres are represented as well. I particularly love the little curtained nook at the back of the shop where the mystery section is housed. Overall, the whole place feels clean and bright, but intimate, like a well-kept personal library in a big old house. Exactly what you would expect from an owner and a group of employees looking to give used books a good home.
Circus Books and Music
Last but certainly not least is Circus Books and Music, which relocated from Cabbagetown to its current Danforth location back in 2008. Circus stocks both an impressive array of books (mostly used) and a diverse selection of music on CD’s and vinyl. You can find a few bestsellers on their shelves, but it’s clear their focus is on bringing the widest range of excellent material from all parts of the literary spectrum, as well as an impressive collection of culinary, art, and children’s books. Their location at the top of Jones means they’re a hit with both the Leslieville and Danforth crowds.