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Bookstore Tour Vol. 1 – Toronto, Ontario

Hi friends! I love traveling, and one of my favorite things to do while traveling is to check out the local bookstores. I would like to start a small series of posts where I tell all of you about the unique stores I come across on my travels. These posts won’t come up often, but I hope you enjoy them! If you any suggestions for bookstores I may have missed or suggestions for cities that have a lot of bookstores, let me know!

Over Memorial Day weekend I took a trip to Toronto, Ontario with my boyfriend. Because we are both book lovers, we devoted one whole day to a bookstore tour! We visited several stores, but here are the four that we liked the best. Please click the name of the store to visit its website for more information, address, and hours.

Type Books

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Type Books has a lot of personality. The store itself is bright and colorful. It is also a bit bigger than I expected from the size of the storefront. Curated shelves line the outer walls and themed table displays cover the shop floor. When we visited, there were table displays for an insane amount of unique cookbooks; wall displays for small, fun, animal books; shelves for new releases; and tags highlighting staff picks. Type does events, and as their namesake implies, there are old typewriters placed around the store. Type’s shelves are populated by beautiful editions of a large variety of titles. There is a large children’s section in the back of the store. They even have some magazines, if that is your thing.

The Monkey’s Paw

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The Monkey’s Paw is very unique bookstore. While Type has a large variety of book in many genres both new and old, The Monkey’s Paw specializes in “old and unusual” books. As you can see from the picture to the right, they do have a lot of old books in a variety of conditions and editions. But don’t let The Monkey’s Paw’s muted color scheme put you off. The shop and its selection are quite small, but you could find something very special if you take the time to look around. They have everything from bizarre self-help books to vintage penguin classics to crumbling children’s readers.

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The Monkey’s Paw also has a book vending machine. At the time of our visit, three Canadian dollars gets you a token. Insert the token into the machine to receive one “old and unusual” book. To the left you can see me being a blatant tourist by showing off our vending machine loot. My token got me a children’s book called Two Boys of the Battleship, and my boyfriend’s token got him some kind of nonfiction title called The Duality of Vision. Not bad for six dollars I guess! If you like old, weird books, this is the store for you. Although this shop was not our favorite, it was just so weird that we had to include it. It smells like old books (as you would expect), and the shop workers were very friendly too.

Bakka Phoenix

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Bakka Phoenix is a bookstore that has only sci-fi and fantasy books. So, yes, it was automatically my favorite. Unfortunately, we did not get very many interesting pictures of the store. It was crowded for one (as it should be), but it did not have as much aesthetic personality as some of the other stores we visited. What Bakka Phoenix does have is a huge selection of fantasy and sci-fi titles. One large portion of the front wall is full of new releases with some staff comments. One of the back shelves is devoted solely to staff picks (they have good taste). There is also a downstairs area of the store that has some used books, mass market paperbacks, and media tie-in books/merchandise (think Warhammer, Doctor Who). I was pleased that Bakka Phoenix had many mainstream titles, but they also had a good selection of things I had never heard of before. If you love sci-fi and fantasy as much as I do, you need to go here.

The Sleuth of Baker Street

Last, but certainly not least, is The Sleuth of Baker Street. This is another themed bookstore specializing only in mystery books. This store is also small in size, but it is packed with books. See the picture below? If you turned the camera around there would be just as many books on the other side of the store. There is also a super cute shop dog and a very knowledgeable, friendly, and passionate staff who seem to know exactly where every book is located in the store. My boyfriend and I both asked for recommendations from the staff, and we came home with two books each from the store. The Sleuth of Baker Street was definitely my second favorite store of the trip because of the staff. THIS is why we need independent bookstores!

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