A Visit to Eliot’s Bookshop in Toronto

It’s been a long time since we’ve been to Eliot’s Bookshop, a used bookshop in the centre of the city at Yonge and Wellesley, but when I heard that the shop may be closing, we had to bundle up the baby and make another visit. I’m sort of shying away from saying “one last visit” as you never know what can happen, and who am I to spread around bad mojo.

This shop is a dream: it’s three stories of shelves of books, a bit of dust, and lots of magic powder. This is exactly what a used bookshop should be like, with books stacked sideways on top of upright books, a mismatching shelves that are overflowing, and winding stairs. Each floor is different, with different shelves and steps and windows. You discover newish books and books that are out of print and different editions of books.

They have a section on figure-skating! Betcha can’t find that at your local big chain. (Not that we have anything against local big chains…)

 

Exposed HVAC! Ceiling fans with dust! We can relate.

And here’s what we got, minus the cat tail. Junot Diaz, Edgar Allan Poe and the Marquez book are all for me, and the Conn Iggulden book is for Jon. Back in the day, Jon went through a Conn Iggulden phase, reading all of his books on Genghis Khan. I’ve never really been a historical fiction type of reader, but maybe I need to spread my wings a little.

I suppose it’s a bit naive for me to imagine that in the heart of the city, right on Yonge, one of the busiest streets in Toronto with big chain shops and restaurants, a used bookshop might survive. Who’s still reading books these days? Paper books??* Lots of people, I think. (And, apparently nice people.)

There’s really nothing like walking into a bookshop and running your fingers over the titles. I do love indie bookshops, with all their glossy new covers and fresh books, and am particularly thrilled to see a new bookshop open up in our neighbourhood here, but there are sometimes more surprises at a used book shop, someone’s name written inside the cover, or older editions, or vintage copies. Every bookstore has its own character, I suppose.

While I usually say it’s always the right time to expound the reasons to embrace a little analogue in our lives, I’ll leave my choir alone today. I think, though, that these types of shops, where it’s an adventure inside, with things you can only discover by stumbling upon them, will always be alive. Online shops are nice, but there’s something to be said for Ollivander’s.

***

The blog has been a bit wayward lately, if anyone has noticed (as have emails to my inbox, Instagram, letters & correspondence, thank-you notes for the baby, groceries, laundry…), and I’ve been meaning to get back on track. Every time I start to get into a routine, something happens, like Caleb’s 3-year check-up, or a family trip to the dentist where it turns out I have a cavity, despite vigilant and almost obsessive oral hygiene care, following which I am thrown into a demoralized and catatonic state for the rest of the day.

Life seems to get busier and busier, but in a good way. An abundance of things to take care of. Instructions for mittens that are waterproof and labeled and fit snugly and strung together for outdoor play. Who knew it could take literally hours to find appropriate coverings for such tiny hands. But I am indeed glad to have the need and the means to find mittens for busy fingers this cold winter season.

In any case, we’re keeping busy here. There is certainly no lack of a backlog of things to blog about, new products, news and announcements that are no longer news as they sit on my to-do list. It seems our warehouse is filling up with shipments and cardboard boxes as we prepare for the holidays, and while I’m mostly tucked away in the apartment with the baby, I love everything about getting ready for Christmas.

Currently reading: Elan Mastai’s All Our Wrong Todays

Currently eating: Reese’s Pieces (these are freakishy addictive)

Currently writing with: TWSBI 580 Turquoise, with Rohrer & Klingner Blau Permanent; Aurora Duofold, with Poussiere de lune; Pelikan M200 Smoky Quartz with Sailor Epinard; a Faber-Castell Stenographer pencil HB

Currently looking at: a naked boy sitting on top of my desk, playing with pens and pencils

Currently looking forward to: apple cider in the shop

 

*In the spirit of full disclosure, I have to admit that I have borrowed my first ebook from the library to read in the quasi darkness while nursing the baby. Even worse, I’m really enjoying it.

4 Comments

  1. Thank you for sharing this post, I also heard the owner about closing Eliot’s bookstore so I’ve been wandering around it more than often 🙂

  2. Rocklee

    Liz, on Friday of this past week (the 8th) I learned a new word that delighted me. It was: VELLICHOR. It means: the strange wistfulness of used bookstores, which are somehow infused with the passage of time—filled with thousands of old books you’ll never have time to read, each of which is itself locked in its own era, bound and dated and papered over … (I cut and pasted that bit) Your post helped me remember the word and I smiled. Thanks!

    • wonderpens

      What a great word! I’ve never heard it before, but it’s a perfect word to hold on these cold and windy days. Thanks so much for sharing 🙂

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