A Read Into Toronto’s Wonderful Independent Bookstores

May 26, 2020 | Explore Toronto

A couple of my girlfriends and I started a book club last year. My goal was to be motivated by them to read more – they read a lot (and quickly!) – and we figured it would be a great way for us to plan meetups in advance since we were all living in different cities (Toronto, Hamilton and Barrie).

Our book club trio is small but flexible, making it easy to coordinate get-togethers, timing and book selections. The girls have also kindly catered to the slowest reader (me!), and while we are committed to reading books on a relatively regular cadence, it feels very low pressure.

Things I’ve loved:

  • Although we get together outside of our book club, it’s been a nice way to set aside time to chat about something different. A lot of novels have book club questions online, sometimes even by the author, which can help guide a meaningful discussion.
    • For example, Delia Owens Book Club Kit for Where the Crawdads Sing has book club questions, Q&A with the author and even recipes for some of Kya’s favourite meals. Spoiler Alert – don’t read it until you’ve finished the book!
  • We’ve used our club as a way to read books outside of our go-to genres
  • It’s been a great excuse to have a brunch potluck!

Although I’ll admit that I’ve done my fair share of shopping at big name box stores, there’s something so special about a local bookshop that you can’t find elsewhere.

Here are some of Toronto’s great independent bookstores. Many of them also deliver and currently have some really neat offerings including virtual book clubs, subscription services, writing mentors and curated book recommendations via phone or email.

So go ahead, settle into a great story and support a local business.

*Check their websites for the latest delivery details and offerings.

Independent Bookstores

Book City

Book City

bookcity.ca

Books
  • Fourth-generation, family-run business
  • Has a huge section of popular books
Bookmark
  • Four locations in Toronto:
    • Danforth (348 Danforth Ave)
    • The Beaches (1950 Queen St E)
    • Bloor West Village (2354 Bloor St W)
    • Yonge & St. Clair (1430 Yonge St)
  • Free Delivery in select neighbourhoods for orders of $100+ and $10 delivery on smaller orders (delivery within 2-3 business days); orders processed Tuesday & Saturday
  • Curbside pickup available
  • Order online or via phone (416-469-9997) – they will accept your loyalty discount if you phone

Queen Books

Queen Books

queenbooks.ca

Books
  • Large selection of books available for easy online shopping
  • Use their 6- or 12-month subscription services for adults and kids to receive a hand-picked book delivered to your door once a month
  • Their books are sorted into fun categories online:“Dirt Bag Ladies & Hot Messes”, “Binge Read Then Binge Watch”, “Easy Breezy”, “Cookbooks We Use & Love” etc.
Bookmark
  • Lesliville (914 Queen St E)
  • $3 flat-rate delivery in Toronto
  • Deliveries are Monday, Wednesday & Friday
  • Easy online orders

Type Books

Type Books Bookstore
Books
  • Get a curated selection of staff picks, based on your likes, through their $100 mystery bag (usually includes 4 books)
  • Type Books also has a collection of puzzles and games and plenty of books to select from

Bookmark
  • Three locations:
    • Queen St W (883 Queen St W)

    • Junction (2887 Dundas St W)

    • Forest Hill (427 Spadina Rd)

  • Curbside pickup or local delivery on orders over $40
  • Delivery zone is King to Eglinton, Jane to Yonge
  • Call to order

Flying Books 

Flying Books

flyingbooks.ca

Books
  • Flying Books offers a selection that they say is “choosily chosen“, focusing on fiction, memoirs, graphic novels, science and history
  • They also offer the ability for you to work with a professional writer in one-on-one sessions to improve your writing and help you progress towards publication
  • Their School of Reading and Writing classes are postponed during quarantine, but be sure to check back later!
    • An example of a past class was “Write With Your Mouth Full: The Art of Food Writing” with Chris Nuttall-Smith, a well-known restaurant cirtic and food writer
Bookmark
  • Flying Books is hidden inside three different businesses in downtown Toronto:
    • The Good Neighbour Espresso Bar (678 Bloor St W)
    • The Good Neighbour Espresso Bar (181 Dovercourt Rd)
    • The Gladstone Hotel (1214 Queen St W)
  • Same day delivery for orders placed by 11:45AM
  • Free downtown delivery with code AIRDROP
  • Easy online ordering system

Bellwoods Books

Bellwood Books

bellwoodsbooks.com

Books
  • Offers vintage & rare books with a specialized focus on women authors, feminist works, vintage paperbacks and the “weird and unusual”
  • Think: Pride and Prejudice printed in 1956, To Kill a Mockingbird printed in 1974 or a vintage graphic design book from 1960
Bookmark
  • Free deliveries in Toronto – use LOCAL at checkout (delivery zone: St Clair to Lakeshore, Roncesvalles to Broadview)
  • Deliveries are on Saturdays & Sundays
  • Shop via Etsy

A Novel Spot Bookshop

Novel Spot

novelspot.ca

Books
  • Check out the “What’s on our table?” section for a curated virtual version of their main table
  • They are also currently offering a 25% pre-order discount on a selection of June release titles
  • Their staff picks are some of the most helpful as each staff member highlights what genre they typically enjoy and then provide related book recommendations
  • When open, they host an in-store book club once a month – you can buy your ticket in advance
Bookmark
  • Humbertown Shopping Centre (270 The Kingsway)
  • 2X weekly deliveries to M8 and M9 postal codes
  • Orders over $50 are delivered for free, smaller orders are subject to a $5  charge
  • Pickup available
  • Easy online ordering or via phone (416-233-2665)

Mabel’s Fabels Children’s Bookstore

Mabel's Fables

mabelsfables.com

Books
  • Aside from regular book orders, they offer Mabel’s Teen Book Club (for ages 14-18) where a book is delivered once every two weeks and participants discuss the books over Zoom
  • The Mystery Book Club is a similar offering for ages 9-18
  • You can also email mabel@mabelsfables.com for customized book suggestions
  • They also offer best-sellers, geared towards adults
Bookmark
  • Davisville (662 Mt Pleasant Rd)
  • Free delivery in the area and calculated regular everywhere else
  • Pickup available
  • Easy online ordering

Anansi Bookshop

Anansi Books

houseofanansi.com

Books
  • Use this time to leverage their buy-one-give-one promotion – if you purchase an ebook from their website, you can provide the name and email of a friend in the notes section and Anansi will send them a digital copy of the same book
  • You can email bookshop@anansi.ca to receive book recommendations
Bookmark
  • Junction Triangle (128 Sterling Rd)
  • Pickup available on Tuesdays & Fridays from 10AM – 2PM
  • Easy online ordering for delivery – shipping calculated based on address

Another Story Bookshop

Another Story Bookshop

anotherstory.ca

Books
  • Broad range of books with a focus on social justice, equity & diversity
  • They’re currently offering virtual book discussions, author events and book launches – follow their Instagram page for the lastest updates
Bookmark
  • Roncesvalles (315 Roncesvalles Ave.)
  • Pickup available on Tuesdays & Wednesdays from 12PM – 6PM and Fridays from 12PM – 7PM
  • Free local delivery 2X per week for postal codes M6R, M6P, M6K, M6J, M6H and M6G; all other deliveries are via Canada Post starting at $7 and are usually processed Fridays
  • Easy online ordering

Ben McNally

Ben McNally

benmcnallybooks.com

Books
  • Stunning bookstore in the heart of downtown Toronto
  • They offer a curated book of the month subscription and you can sign up by phoning or emailing them
  • They can also do special orders from the US or the UK
Bookmark

Sellers & Newel Second-Hand Books

Sellers and Newell

sellersandnewel.com

Books
  • Sellers & Newel offers a great selection of second-hand books and has that wonderful old book smell that makes you feel at home (note that their online platform only has about 5% of their inventory, so phone if you have questions or can’t find what you’re looking for)
  • When they’re open, their space transforms in the evenings as they typically host live music events – check back later via their website!
Bookmark
  • Little Italy (672 College Street)
  • Free local delivery
  • Order via Abe books, or phone (647-778-6345) if you aren’t finding what you’re looking for

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