Be Warned: This post is long, but contains lots of pictures about bookstores in Toronto!
I had a very fun and memorable adventure yesterday. If you know anything about me, then you know that I am absolutely in love with the idea of adventure (especially when said adventure has me encountering many book stores!)
Along with my good friend and co-worker, Yasmine (who runs yasminereads), I explored a handful of book stores that promised us a wonderful day. We decided to check out both used and indie shops with a goal in mind of buying at least one book from each shop.
A lot of photos were taken and a pretty nicely sized haul was our prize!
1. Mabel’s Fables
Where is it? 662 Mt. Pleasant Road
What is it? Independent Children’s Book Shop
Mabel’s Fables is a gorgeous little book store slightly hidden near a suburban and old-school neighbourhood in Toronto. Unlike downtown, this was a very quiet zone that allowed for readers to escape into a world of books.
This was a store with heart and though we hadn’t even entered yet, this cute little robot statue greeted us. We knew this would be something special.
Mabel’s Fables is a store that caters mainly to younger readers (New Borns-teens), and this is pretty evident when you step into the shop. There are colourful displays of toys, books, and intriguing posters on the walls. (In the picture: yasminereads)
Each section (age group) was marked by lamps like the one in the picture with the age written in marker on the lampshade.
The atmosphere was so calm and quiet that it allowed for us to search through the shelves in peace. Above, you can see that just about anyone could come into the store and browse, despite the age groups featured.
But the above pictures only showcase the first floor. This place was surprisingly large! The second floor catered to the older readers (middle grade-young adult). This was where Yasmine and I got really excited.
These were only a few of the posters on the walls as we climb the stairs to the second floor.
The view from above was just as impressive. This alcove showcased the only general fiction/nonfiction in the store, remaining true to its theme of being a mainly children’s bookstore.
The upper level of the store had enough books to make you curious and want to see everything, but not so much that you would feel overwhelmed. They carried books at the exact same price you would find at a corporate store, so the myth of overpriced indie stores didn’t work with this Independent bookstore.
I ended up only getting one book because I knew I’d be visiting other stores during my visit to Toronto, but this was definitely the most memorable Indie store of the day!
I got one book, a free bookmark/map, a Mabel’s Fables bookmark, two buttons, and a Mabel’s Fables tote!
BONUS PIC: Check out this house we spotted by Mabel’s Fables!
2. Eliot’s Bookshop
Where is it? Near Yonge & Wellesley
What is it? Secondhand Bookshop
Eliot’s Bookshop was one of those bookstores that Yasmine and I had to look for closely, simply because it was hidden between two other buildings. But don’t let the facade trick you: this place is huge!
Though the building isn’t wide, it is very long, giving the aisles in this picture the appearance of being near-endless. The effect in person was amazing.
The stairs leading up to the second floor (of THREE LEVELS!) were decorated with books, recreating a popular visual expectation that readers often have when they enter a used bookstore.
The second floor was another large space with shelves full of books, and even one of those rolling ladders that Beauty had in her library. If this was our one and only destination in our day trip, then Yasmine and I could have easily stayed here for hours.
The store was beautiful because it was full of old books, it was quiet, and it had that particular smell that only older books could ever really have. Overall, this was a pretty good place to check out. By the way, this picture was taken on the third floor, which was mainly non-fiction books.
Other than the fact that we had to leave our totes at the cash desk (so as to avoid thefts, the owner asks all customers to leave bags at the cash), this was a pretty awesome store.
I almost left with empty hands, but I found one book and three comics from 1988 just before calling it quits.
3. Glad Day Bookshop
Where is it? 598A Yonge Street
What is it? Independent LGBTQ Bookshop
Glad Day Bookshop is the first LGBTQ bookstore I’ve ever been to and I have to say, it was a great experience! It is also a bit hidden, so we almost walked right past it–so, if you want to check it out, remember to keep an eye out!
Glad Day is located on a second floor, giving it a slight air of mystery and privacy.
This was actually the smallest of the bookstores we visited. The effect was very cozy, especially since the employee on shift was pretty easy to find in case we had any questions.
Despite its size, the selection was surprisingly large! We had a great time exploring something new and different.
I bought a book that I’ve been wanting for a long time and got one bookmark from the employee on shift!
4. BMV Books
Where is it? Yonge Street
What is it? Secondhand Book/Comic/DVD/Music/Magazine Shop
BMV Books is a Toronto classic. I didn’t take pictures of the store inside because I feel like I’ve taken so many pictures before. To be honest, however, I was a bit too distracted by everything inside…sorry!
There are a ton of graphic novels, used books, and so much more inside of this big store.
Okay, fun story time! Yasmine and I recently saw a trailer for Horns, which stars Daniel Radcliffe and was written by Joe Hill, Stephen King’s son, a few years ago. You can find the trailer here and the teaser (my favourite of the two) here. Anyway, we wanted to get the book and had been looking all day for it. Then when we were in BMV Books, I found the book and nearly scared the crap out of an older man who was standing in front of the books because of how excited I was. I had found two copies. TWO, NOT ONE. It was like a sign that we were meant to own and read this book! So, yeah, we bought it…for $3.99!
Anywho, I also ended up finding lots of other cool things! Here’s my haul:
5. Silver Snail
Where is it? Yonge Street
What is it? A Specialty Independent Comic Shop
Whereas Mabel’s Fables was awesome in its dedication to young reader books, the Silver Snail was an awesome ode to comics. The entrance itself hints at what you’re bound to find inside.
One of the first things visitors might see is the life-size Spiderman hanging from the ceiling over the stairs leading up to the shop. It’s hung in such a way that if you don’t look up, you just might miss it.
In fact, there are hidden figures everywhere. I apologize for the less than great picture, but if you look carefully on the left hand side (near the corner of the above picture) you can see a very shadowy Gollum, which Yasmine noticed before we left. Also, there’s a coffee shop with superhero lattes!
The store was very busy, so I couldn’t get a lot of pictures, but if you’re a huge fan of comics and super heroes (among other fandoms), then I recommend that you stop by this gem while you’re in Toronto. There are so many selections and a lot of collector’s items.
I ended up walking away with a new graphic novel that I’ve been searching for, and two Archie comics. I would have purchased more, but by that time my funds were already seriously depleted.
After a great late lunch at Korean BBQ, Yasmine and I bid adieu to Toronto and returned home. Overall, it was a great day and though it started with some rain, the day quickly turned sunny.
I hope to do something like this again soon and hopefully in the future, I will one day explore bookshops from around the world!