The ultimate guide for Vancouver bookworms

by Sheri Radford

Vancouver may be best known as a mecca for outdoor adventurers, but it’s also a haven for readers and writers. If you love the printed word, then read on. [Photo courtesy of Tourism Vancouver/Nelson Mouellic]

The ultimate guide for Vancouver bookworms

Bookstores

E-readers have grown in popularity, but they can’t come close to the serendipity of wandering into a bookstore, chatting with the staff and discovering your new favourite book.

  • Big-box Indigo (locations at Granville and Broadway, Granville and Robson, and Burrard and Dunsmuir) stocks a huge selection of books and magazines and regularly hosts special events with well-known authors.
  • The staff at Kidsbooks (at Broadway and Balaclava) know everything there is to know about literature for tots, tykes, tweens and teens. The bright and cheerful store often holds special events with children’s authors.
  • You don’t have to be a student to love the university bookstore at UBC, with its interesting selection of books – alongside clothing, souvenirs and more.
  • Golden Age Collectables at Granville and Smithe is a nerd’s nirvana, stocking everything from comics, graphic novels and role-playing adventure books to action figures, Pokémon cards and character clothing.
  • Little Sister’s Book & Art Emporium in Davie Village sells books for the LGBTQ community – and it spent years fighting for (and ultimately winning) the right to do so, getting embroiled in a protracted legal battle that went all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada.
  • It’s easy to while away an afternoon thumbing through the used books stacked high in Albion Books (at Richards and Dunsmuir).
  • Navigating through the maze of used books in MacLeod’s Books (at Richards and West Pender) always yields a treasure or two.
  • Massy Books (at Main and 6th) stocks used, out of print and rare books. You might need assistance finding the collection of rare books, since – in a plot twist straight out of a children’s novel – it’s hidden behind a secret bookshelf door.

For more bookstore suggestions, check out YP’s Smart List on independent bookstores in Vancouver, as well as used bookstores for second-hand books.

More than books

There are several other Vancouver businesses that cater to lovers of the written word.

  • Main Street’s The Regional Assembly of Text sells journals, notepads and greeting cards. On the first Thursday of every month, the charmingly quirky store hosts a letter writing club, encouraging folks to rediscover the lost art of writing by hand. Also check out the in-store button-making station.
  • Paper-Ya on Granville Island stocks every type of paper you can imagine, for origami, letter writing, party invitations or whatever idea you can dream up. You can also find pens, ink and journals.
  • Book’mark, located downtown on West Georgia Street, carries journals, greeting cards, tote bags, book-themed T-shirts and more – including bookmarks, of course.
  • In addition to lending out books, magazines, CDs and DVDs, the Vancouver Public Library regularly hosts author readings, used book sales and book clubs.
  • Inspired by both Peter Pan and European teahouses, Neverland Tea Salon on West Broadway was created by Terri Tatchell, an Oscar-nominated screenwriter, and her friend Renee Iaci, a director and actress. If traditional high tea isn’t your style, order a tea-infused cocktail from the Lost Boys’ Bar. Then pull out your Moleskine notebook and start writing the next great Canadian novel.
  • Built in 1912, the picturesque Sylvia Hotel is the setting for the two Mister Got to Go books. In these picture books for children, a stray cat moves into the hotel and just won’t leave. The bar in the Sylvia Hotel has long been a hangout for writers, including Malcolm Lowry, George Fetherling and Douglas Coupland.

Books about Vancouver

Authors as diverse as William Gibson, Douglas Coupland, David Suzuki, Susin Nielsen, Sarah Ellis and Anosh Irani all call Vancouver home, so it’s no surprise that there are plenty of books about the city. To read all about Vancouver books, click here.

Literary events

Vancouver and its surrounding areas have a whole calendar of events to keep book lovers and bibliophiles entertained all year round. Check out this small sampling.

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