Where to read books, buy books and feel glad that you live in Toronto.
If you live for books, or you’re just curious to see what’s out there, there are certain places in Toronto that do not contain the same best-sellers as your local, chain book store. These places each have their own unique character and they are well worth exploring. After all, they only exist in Toronto! [Photo: @thebookoholics]
1. Merril Collection of Science Fiction, Speculation and Fantasy – Toronto Public Library
If you’re a big science fiction nerd then you are going to be in absolute heaven here. The collection is based at the Toronto Public Library and it contains thousands of science fiction and fantasy novels, including those that are out of print, original manuscripts and limited editions. There is also a lot of non-fiction critical material that would be so useful to anybody looking to write about sci-fi or fantasy novels in an academic manner.
It came to live in the Toronto Public Library in 1970 when Canadian science fiction author Judith Merril donated her personal collection to the library, and it was named after her in 1990. Judith Merril is no longer with us but her legacy lives on in both the fiction she wrote and the collection she donated.
There is also a group named Friends of Merril who aim to garner support for the Merril Collection. On their website, you can find upcoming events and information about the collection.
2. Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library – University of Toronto
Their upcoming events include an exhibition celebrating the people behind Canadian publishing. There are also themed displays on certain topics every month, which you can follow on the website. This month features a humbling and informative installment commemorating the 75th Anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.
Their previous exhibitions have included ‘De Monstris: An Exhibition of Monsters and the Wonders of Human Imagination‘ and ‘Moments of Vision: The Life and Work of Thomas Hardy‘. The Hardy exhibition includes first editions and manuscripts which should really make it an international, must-see destination for book-enthusiasts.
They even upload videos of talks by experts of specific subjects which can be viewed for free online.
3. The Monkey’s Paw – Bloor Street West
Never mind visiting this place, any book-lover will want to live here.The walls are lined with unusual publications and the highlight of the whole bookshop adventure is the book-vending machine.It’s called The Bibliomat and, for a $3 token, it will dispense to you a random, unusual book. There is nothing else quite like it in the world.
If you’re interested to see examples of the ‘rare and unusual’ books sold at The Monkey’s Paw, there are plenty available on their website.
4. David Mason Books – Adelaide Street West
This bookshop is the real deal. It’s the kind of place that makes you want to drink hot chocolate and read for a long time on a topic you’ve never encountered before. It’s the kind of place that makes you want to buy everything even though your bookshelves are already full — and you’ve only read about 1/3 of the books you already own, at most.
Plus, there is at least one cat in the shop.
5. The Sunday Antique Market – near St. Laurence Market
This delightful market is open from 7am to 5pm on Sundays and there is no better way to spend your Sunday than rummaging through its wares.
One bookseller who trades here is Bellwood Books. They specialize in books written by women in lots of different genres; from psychology to fiction, and history to language development. If you are looking to read more works written by women authors then their stall would be a great place to look. Once you’re finished thumbing through the books, you can wander off and spend your afternoon enjoying the charming market.