V – Munro’s Books of Victoria – BC Canada

WELCOME to the letter V and to this year’s theme: BOOKSHOPS

1108 Government St. Victoria BC Canada 250-382-2464

Munro’s Books filled all my criteria for inclusion in this year’s theme for the 2018 AtoZ Blog Challenge. Munro’s has been a destination for book lovers for more than 50 years occupying a landmark location in the heart of Victoria’s Old Town. I wrote in an earlier post that besides reading and writing, architecture, preservation, and revitalization are passions of mine. Imagine my pleasure when my research led me to this bookstore located in this fine neo-classical building designed for the Royal Bank of Canada in 1909 by Thomas Hooper, the architect of many of B.C.’s finest commercial and public buildings. The beautiful coffered 24ft. ceiling closely resembles the ceiling of the porch of the great library of Ephesus built by the Romans in the 2nd century AD.

Jim Munro, the owner of Munro Books, bought the building, which had been tastelessly modernized in the 1950’s and set to work restoring it to its former glory. In only 8 weeks, it was refurbished and ready for business. The building has since received two heritage awards. These photographs capture what a magnificent setting the repurposing of this building is for a bookstore.

A little background: In 1963, Jim Munro and wife Alice Munro (yes, that one) opened a shop on Yates Street, near Victoria’s movie theatres. There were few bookstores in Victoria at that time, but this location was convenient and the staff’s interest in new writing trends and art forms built a loyal clientele. Another move to Fort Street and in 1984 to its current location.  Jim Munro announced his retirement in 2014. He turned the ownership of the store over to four long-term staff members. Mr. Munro died in 2016 with tributes from across the country testifying to the success of Munro’s legacy lovingly built. Let us hope that this wonderful bookshop goes on and on.






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U – Kings English Bookshop – Salt Lake City, Utah

WELCOME to the letter U and to this year’s theme: BOOKSHOPS
1511 S 1500 E
Salt Lake City, Utah
Call (801) 484-9100
Opened in 1977 as space for two aspiring writers to pen their Great American Novels, The King’s English in Utah is now home to knowledgeable booksellers and a children’s room in a treehouse. Betsy Burton and Ann Berman, book lovers and aspiring writers, rented an old building with several rooms, thinking they’d write in the back, emerge to sell a book or two whenever the bells on the front door jangled to announce the arrival of a customer. The women realized the jingling bells were not a distraction from their writing life but a welcome sound, signaling the opportunity to meet new friends and talk books. They used the money they received from a James Patterson grant to raise the roof, put in windows and build more shelving. As an author, I can’t think of a more enviable setting in which to write, stay connected to kindred spirits and become an important part of the community.

After reading this great review from a happy customer, you will want to add The King’s English to your list of bookstores to visit soon. “Independently owned Kings English in the 15th & 15th district is a store perfectly suited for avid readers. A blue Tudor “home” right off the street and nestled in front of Fresco’s Italian restaurant has plenty of nooks and crannies throughout the store where you can sit back and take in all this place has to offer. It’s what bookstores use to be before the chains came in and sanitized the concept. The people who work here are real readers and absolutely love what they do, which is why they will help you to the ends of the earth in finding the right books for you and yours. A great place to find the perfect gift for the reader(s) in your life. Hard-to-find books are their specialty! There’s also a terrific children’s section with both popular and hard-to-find. Just give yourself a couple hours though, because if you love books then this is your place. A Utah gem!”



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T – Titles With Deep Book and Bookstore Connections

WELCOME to the letter T and to this year’s theme: BOOKSHOPS

Here is a link where you will find a long selection of novels, mysteries, and non-fiction about our favorite subject…..Books, and Bookshops. Click Here:

I love reading novels and mysteries that have to do with the world of books. Let me single out…..

The Shadow of the Wind                                              Carlos Ruiz Zevin

The international literary sensation, about a boy’s quest through the secrets and shadows of postwar Barcelona for a mysterious author whose book has proved as dangerous to own as it is impossible to forget. Barcelona, 1945, a great city lies in shadow, nursing its wounds, and a boy named Daniel awakes on his eleventh birthday to find that he can no longer remember his mother’s face. To console his only child, Daniel’s widowed father, an antiquarian book dealer, initiates him into the secret of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, a library tended by Barcelona’s guild of rare-book dealers as a repository for books forgotten by the world, waiting for someone who will care about them again. Daniel’s father coaxes him to choose a volume from the spiraling labyrinth of shelves, one that, it is said, will have a special meaning for him. And Daniel so loves the novel he selects, The Shadow of the Wind by one Julian Carax, that he sets out to find the rest of Carax’s work. To his shock, he discovers that someone has been systematically destroying every copy of every book this author has written. He may have the last one in existence. Before Daniel knows it his seemingly innocent quest has opened a door into one of Barcelona’s darkest secrets, an epic story of murder, magic, madness and doomed love. If he doesn’t find out the truth about Julian Carax, he and those closest to him will suffer horribly. Below further suggestions:

Penelope Fitzgerald’s The Bookshop
May Sarton’s The Education of Harriet Hatfield
Christoper Morley’s classics The Haunted Bookshop and Parnassus on Wheels

More recent offerings: Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George
The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
The Secret of Lost Things by Sheridan Hay
84, Charing Cross Road – Helene Hanff

People of the Book – Geraldine Brooks                                                                                                       Sixpence House: Lost in a Town of Books –Paul Collins                                                                                                  The Bookman’s Promise (series) -John Donne



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S – Square Books – Oxford, MS

WELCOME to the letter S and to this year’s theme: BOOKSHOPS

 SQUARE BOOKS 160 Courthouse Sq. Oxford, Ms  662-236-2262

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“Everyone in the South has no time for reading because they are all too busy writing.”
William Faulkner

I wish we were sitting on the porch at Square Books talking books and swapping stories. I would tell you about my southern mother in law, who has died but never forgotten. Born in Jackson, MS. she was the belle of the ball at Ole Miss in Oxford. She belonged to  Chi Omega sorority and as the years went by, her southern accent only became more southern.  I’m quite sure she never really acclimated to her world in Evanston, IL. though she raised four sons, all of them taught to say “Yes, Maham” and “No Maham.” Her firstborn son, a southern boy at heart, is gone now, but always just a glance away from me.  At the end of her life, my mother in law was still reading Eudora Welty. Jane would have known the historic town square well where Square Books is located.  (Photo: Faulkner & Welty)

Square Books is an independent bookstore in three separate historic buildings about 100 feet apart.  The main store, Square Books, is in a two-story building with a cafe and balcony on the second floor; Off Square Books is a few doors down from the main store and has lifestyle sections such as gardening and cookbooks; and Square Books Jr, the children’s bookstore, is in a building adjacent to the historic Neilson’s Department Store, which has continuously operated since 1839. Square Books is known for its strong selection of literary fiction, books on the American South and by Southern writers, a large inventory of bargain books, and its emphasis on books for children. The second floor of Square Books has a coffee bar and in fair weather, people sit on the balcony overlooking the courthouse. Open 9-9 all week, and 9-6 on Sunday, Square Books is committed to matching books with readers and you and I ……we are committed to great bookstores like this one.

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R – R.J. Julia Booksellers – Madison Conn

WELCOME to the letter R and to this year’s theme: BOOKSHOPS

768 Boston Post Rd. Madison, Conn         203-245-3959

There is nothing like a satisfied customer writing a positive comment about their experience in your bookstore to make all the work it takes to run a successful business worthwhile. “R.J. Julia’s has a lovely, open, welcoming feel. I love bookshops in general and this is certainly an excellent example of that with a great range of books and knowledgeable staff. I think what makes R.J. Julia Booksellers is a great place to visit is the combination of the bookshop and the café at the back that serves very nice and well-prepared food all day. It makes it a great stop for families or couples. You can browse for books and then head for lunch or just a coffee and have a very nice couple of hours.”

 R.J. Julia Booksellers is a Publisher’s Weekly Bookseller of the Year and also named one of the crown jewels of downtown Madison. Not all the bookstores I researched made my cut, but sight unseen, I fell in love with places like Madison Conn and Portsmouth, NH. Halfway between New York City and Boston, Madison attracts a sophisticated mix of professionals as well as a growing community of artists. They frequent the town’s independent boutiques and family-owned restaurants, most of which are housed in the two-story shingled and redbrick buildings dating from the 1930s that line Main Street. Henry Bacon, the architect of the town library, went on to create the Lincoln Memorial.If you are fortunate enough to visit this beautiful town and bookshop, may I suggest for the letter that you buy and read Ann Patchett’s RUN? The novel remains on my short list of favorite books. Author, Ann Patchett also owns a bookstore in Nashville, TN. If you have an extra moment read another blog post I wrote about Ann Patchett and her amazing novel, RunCLICK HERE

I’ll leave you with a few lines from this novel that is why I love this book. Father Sullivan is one of the wonderful characters in the book. Hard not to be touched by his thoughts….

“It would be incorrect in every sense to say that so near the end of his life he had lost his faith, when in fact God seemed more abundant to him in the Regina Cleri home than any place he had been before. God was in the folds of his bathrobe, the ache of his knees…now that he should be sensing the afterlife like a sweet scent drifting in from the garden, he had started to wonder if there was, in fact, no afterlife at all….What could be greater than the armchair, the window, the snow? Life itself had been holy.”

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Q – Quail Ridge Books – Raleigh, NC

WELCOME to the letter Q and to this year’s theme: BOOKSHOPS

4209 Lassiter Mill Road
Raleigh, North Carolina
Call (919) 828-1588
North Hills is a mixed-use development located in midtown Raleigh, NC  that includes stores, restaurants, entertainment, commercial offices, residential living and a continuing care retirement community. The Commons area frequently features live concerts, festivals, and a farmers’ market. It’s a fabulous destination if for no other reason than a great bookstore – Quail Ridge Books – A  new location for a store that is a mecca for avid readers that count on a discerning selection of books across the spectrum. You can count on a staff that knows its books. My latest visit exceeded any book budget  I may have gone in with.  There was my list and then the books recommended to me by a staffer that said,  “If you like this author, you will like…….” I love Quail Ridge Books!

I’d also recommend a restaurant, Coquette,   a few blocks away that tops off a wonderful bookstore experience. In great weather, the floor to ceiling doors are opened and the view of the towering downtown buildings loom on the horizon.  With a bag of books at my feet, the view, and menu, I am transported to a cosmopolitan state of mind not to be missed.

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P – Port Richmond Books – Philadelphia, PA

WELCOME to the letter P and to this year’s theme: BOOKSHOPS

Port Richmond Books
3037 Richmond Street – Philadelphia, PA         215-870-5422                        

One of my favorite hats that I wear is serving on the board of Preservation Rocky Mount, NC. When I discovered that Port Richmond Books is located in an old movie theater, I became an instant supporter. I will admit that I subtract points for disorder when walking into a bookstore.  I prefer an organized and easy to negotiate place with leeway for old, over-stuffed chairs, and creaky wooden floors. The location of  Port Richmond made up for the disorder that comes with the territory.  I love imagining walking past a great mystery section, piles of Tolkien, and the crowded office of owner Greg Gillespie’s to the room where audiences watched Laurel and Hardy. Now it is filled with books of every description and for occasional readings and book signings.

Let me encourage you to open a bookstore on your Main Street USA where old, wonderful buildings are waiting for a new life. How about rescuing a historic house before it is too late built with high-quality materials. There are economic advantages to locating businesses, like a bookstore, or an antique store, or small start-ups in older buildings. Port Richmond’s old movie theater is part of Philadelphia’s tangible past, providing opportunities for the future and the economy. A city needs old buildings to maintain a sense of their heritage and a bookstore in an old theater spells p- e- r- f-e- c- t to me. Put a bookstore in one of your great old buildings and people will love the vestiges of its past uses and forgive the awkward spaces, that fill the needs of today.


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O – The Old Town Bookshop – Edinburgh, Scotland

WELCOME to the letter O and to this year’s theme: BOOKSHOPS
8 Victoria Street, Edinburgh EH1 2HG, Scotland
+44 131 225 9237

I can close my eyes and walk once again down Princess Street in Edinburgh on my way to Laura Ashley to buy a plaid jumper and blouse (2T) for my first grandchild.  Then on to St. Mary’s Church where I found the painting I was looking for with a fascinating story. The painting is called The Presence. Later I was given a print copy of the painting, which hangs on a wall and means the world to me. If only I had turned in at The OLD TOWN BOOKSHOP,  booksellers of antiquarian maps, prints, Scottish material, and fine art monographs. The bookshop is situated in the heart of Edinburgh’s historic Old Town in a 16th-century medieval granary store originally used to supply Edinburgh Castle. Nearby is St. Giles’ Cathedral, Greyfriar’s Kirkyard and the castle itself, providing settings for some of Scotland’s best writers including R.L.S. Stevenson and Sir Walter Scott.

Edinburgh thinks of itself as the first city of literature. You know some of its famous writers, Robert Burns, Robert Lewis Stevenson and Arthur Conan Doyle along with contemporary writers, JK Rowling, Alexander McCall Smith and Iain Rankin who sets his Inspector Rebus detective series in the city.

Start your bookshop tour in Edinburgh with The Old Town Bookshop who cater to the literary enthusiast and well-read tourist since 1978 with an eclectic range of books and art. On to Elvis Shakespeare where you will find selected literature and music. Local poets, authors or musicians are found debuting their work. Analogue Books on Candlemaker Row specializes in unique books of art and graphics and magazines on various themes. Armchair Books is a comfortable, worn-in bookshop lined from floor to ceiling with fiction and antiquarian books. World Power Bookshop probably isn’t my cup of tea but is known for its selection of left-wing, activist reading, but this is a good place to find local Scottish publishers.

You can join thousands of book lovers at the annual Edinburgh International Book Festival in this beautiful city and explore other unique, independent bookshops specializing in their owner’s interests. I will leave you with, Robert Burns who will have you putting the book world of Edinburgh on your travel/bookstore list.

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N – The Notting Hill Bookstore – London

WELCOME to the letter N and to this year’s theme: BOOKSHOPS

This independent bookshop, renowned for its travel book section was the inspiration for the 1999 romantic comedy, made famous by Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant in the film, Notting Hill. Here we find someone who knows his books along with a quirky sales assistant that fits right in with the specialized inventory. Quite apart from travel, The Notting Hill Bookshop offers an extensive range across most categories of publishing and is proud of its’ broad range of children’s books. I hope as you make your way to visit the store that the seasons will change before your eyes as they do in the film, which puts me in mind of the seasons that come and go in our reading lives.  When in London, most visit Harrod’s or the Victoria and Albert Museum, but you and I are headed to Notting Hill in pursuit of our passion….books!

I want to tuck into this post one of the books in the British Library Crime Classics series from Poisoned Pen Press. I’m never sure if I am buying the books for their fabulous book jackets or for the golden age mysteries they are reintroducing. (You might know that this jacket isn’t the best example of all the fabulous covers.)  The Notting Hill Mystery by Charles Warren Adams was first published between 1862 and 1863 as an eight-part serial in a magazine. The story is told by insurance investigator Ralph Henderson, who is building a case against the sinister Baron R, suspected of murdering his wife.

Presented in the form of diary entries, letters, chemical analysis reports, interviews with witnesses and a crime scene map, the novel displays innovative techniques that would not become common features of detective fiction until the 1920s. I’m sure you can find the British Crime Classics at The Notting Hill Bookstore.

Please take a minute to watch this wonderful short scene where Grant discourages Roberts from buying a book. CLICK HERE



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M – Mystery Book Stores

WELCOME to the letter M and to this year’s theme: BOOKSHOPS

If I had a bookstore I would make all the mystery novels hard to find.
Demetri Martin

It was not until after my mother died that I picked up one of her mysteries and discovered what I’d been missing. Though I read a lot of different genres, I count among my treasured friends the Inspectors I keep company with between the pages of a mystery book. As for stand-alone mystery bookstores, well, pure delight. The next best thing for mystery lovers is a room entirely dedicated to a discerning selection of mystery writers found in our favorite independent bookstores. Next time you go looking for mysteries, I highly recommend you take this short list with you and introduce yourself to my esteemed Inspector friends:  Louise Penny’s Inspector Armand Gamache series set in and around Quebec. Donna Leon’s series set in Venice Itlay with wonderful Commissario Guido Brunetti, Martin Walkers series set in St. Denis France with Bruno, the Chief of Police, and Christopher Fowler’s series featuring The Peculiar Crime Unit of Scotland Yard with Investigators, Arthur Bryant, and John May. This list is my thank you for reading this year’s blog challenge theme and following my blog. You will forever think of me as your best friend who got you hooked on these well written…it doesn’t get any better than these…..mystery writers.

119 Main Street, Brattleboro, VT               802-258-2211

Mystery on Main Street bookshop is near the New Hampshire and Massachusetts borders. Here are hard to find books, classics like Conan Doyle and contemporary writers. How could I resist celebrating a mystery bookstore on Main Street? I also write a  blog, Mainstreetrockymount.com, (honoring the past and building a future) where I champion preservation and the revitalization of Main Street.

Main Street Brattleboro, VT

I chuckled when I read a quote by Greg Bruss who once owned Mysteries and More in Nashville, TN. He said, “I’m very happy if someone dies in the first paragraph.” I wonder if Mr. Bruss would like the opening line from a mystery by Julia Spenser-Fleming?

“It was a hell of a night to throw away a baby.” This observation by a female Episcopal priest who finds a baby on the church steps after a vestry meeting. Let the mystery begin. If you have a favorite mystery bookstore, I hope you will mention it in the comment section below for the benefit of fellow mystery readers. Thanks!




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L – Leakey Bookshop – Inverness, Scotland

WELCOME to the letter L and to this year’s theme: BOOKSHOPS

The preservation of historic structures is of great interest to me and so the idea of a bookshop located in Greyfriar’s Hall, which was once St. Mary’s Gaelic Church in Inverness Scotland, is a place I would like to spend hours in. The church was first built in the 17th century and later reconstructed in several periods during the 19th century, Much of the original church framework remains, and the Leakey Bookshop, established in 1979, added an iron spiral staircase to connect the two stories of bookshelves. Leakey’s is Scotland’s largest secondhand bookshop with 100,000 selected volumes, including old and rare copies, as well as antique maps located on the second floor of the building. There are exhibits of local art. With a wood fire, we can sit down at the bistro-style cafe for a delicious home-cooked meal or a cup of tea.


Let us browse, finding a variety of books on Scottish history, as well as novels and poetry, that are written by some of the U.K.’s most famous residents. Leakey recommends Evelyn Waugh or Robert Louis Stevenson, calling Stevenson a “great writer and a great man.”



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K – Kroch’s and Brentano’s – Paying Tribute

WELCOME to the letter K and to this year’s theme: BOOKSHOPS

I grew up with books and many of them were brought home by my father from Kroch’s and Brentano’s, the largest bookstore in Chicago and at one time the largest privately owned bookstore chain in the United States. Though closed in 1995, it remains an important part of Chicago’s book history and also to the little girl within me who read and cherished Treasure Island, Black Beauty, Misty of Chincqutee.I want to pay tribute to Kroch’s because they introduced to the bookstore world an amazing template that to this day is used.

Adolph Kroch, an Austrian immigrant to Chicago, first founded a German-language bookstore in 1907 and later bought out Brentano’s bookstore and merged them into Kroch’s & Brentano’s. Adolph Kroch’s son, Carl Kroch, later took over the business, at a large location on South Wabash Avenue pictured above. Carl Kroch set out to create a new kind of bookstore: light, airy, and comfortable. He realized the selling power of book jackets, so he designed special shelves that tilted to display the books’ full covers, not just their spines. He believed in a partnership between publishers and booksellers, and when his colleague Richard L. Simon, co-founder of Simon & Schuster, told him about a new idea he had for book pricing, Kroch encouraged him to give it a try. Simon recognized that toothpaste selling for 79 cents appeared to be a bargain in comparison to 80-cent toothpaste. He priced his company’s books at $4.95, $7.95, and $14.95 that remains the standard industry practice.

Kroch’s and Brentano’s was said to have the finest selection of art books in the region, and its sales clerks were recognized for their vast knowledge on the subject. One such individual was Henry Tabor, who ran the art department.  The flagship store at 29 S. Wabash had several distinct departments including one run by Alice (Morimoto) Goda which was a mail order center that tracked down obscure out-of-print titles for customers around the world. The store frequently exhibited noted painters’ and photographers’ work on the walls and regularly hosted book signings by major authors. In writing my 2nd novel, Facing East, I honored this flagship store with several scenes worked into the story in thanksgiving for the childhood books purchased at the store. The last of the stores finally closed July 31, 1995.

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