Text by Huzan Tata
While Canada’s westernmost region isn’t without its natural wonders, it’s also a treasure trove for literature-loving travellers, allowing them to return with piles of new reads, and fascinating stories to take home. As stalking famous authors or lining up outside their homes may be frowned upon, we give you locales you can visit instead, to satiate your appetite for all things literary…
Vancouver Public Library
Situated in the heart of the Central Business District, this haven of books is a sprawling nine-storey building, that from the outside will remind you of the Colosseum in Rome. Canada’s third-largest library, this one is home to almost 9.5 million pieces of literature, including audio books, magazines from around the world, and e-books. There are even retail shops and restaurants within the premises to make sure you can spend hours here.
Granville Island’s Little Free Library
Take a Hop-On Hop-Off bus to Granville Island, the delightfully vibrant historical locale, home to a marketplace of fresh produce, great restaurants, live music all around, and a hub for tourists and locals alike. And when you’ve had your fill of food and entertainment, take a detour to spot the Little Free Library — a cute house on a pole, that stores books for you to pick up. With classics and new reads alike, this small ‘book-house’ will tempt every avid reader. And if you get lucky, you may just get to pick up one signed by an author who was at a local literary fest.
Café Deux Soleils
‘Poetry is language at its most distilled and its most powerful,’ said Rita Dove. So if you want to experience this power of words live, ditch the sightseeing for a bit and head to Café Deux Soleils on any Monday night for the Vancouver Poetry Slam, where some of the city’s best poets present their spoken word pieces in front of a live audience. Enjoy a cup of joe or some healthy comfort food as the poets aim to enthrall you with their verses – and if you’re brave enough, you can sign up too, and unleash the poet within.
The Paper Hound Bookstore
Save the best for last. Head towards this store at the end of your trip to fill up all the empty space in your bags with books. The Paper Hound, a new, old and rare books store is a one-stop-shop for all your literary needs. Classics, novels by world-renowned authors, history, fiction – from the obscure to the curious, you’ll find all kinds of titles piled up here for you to devour.
P.S. The store is located on ‘Book Row’, a stretch with the most number of bookstores and libraries around one locale. So don’t say we didn’t warn you.
A VICTORIAN BONUS
When you take a ferry to stop over in Victoria for a day or two – as is wont by most travellers — don’t miss out on Munro’s Books. If the name sounds familiar, it’s because it was started by Alice Munro, a recipient of the Nobel Prize for Literature, and her husband. A white heritage building houses this store, and the bright fabric banners by Carole Sabiston on the walls inside will captivate you as much as the books on sale. From books and magazines of all genres to literature-inspired stationery, bags, cards and magnets, Munro’s Books has it all. And as you’re at the counter to bill for your purchases, don’t forget to pick up a free bookmark or two – our favourite is the special edition one of vibrant planets and books that seems straight out of a fairytale.