When visiting a new city, what is one of the most important things on your itinerary? For me it is finding the town’s best bookstore and finding food. Since this is a book blog, lets focus on the books.
When I visited Victoria in British Columbia this past week, I made a note to look up a few bookstores. I also made a note of packing light in case I found more books to bring back home. Imagine my joy when I found out there was a very well known and beautiful bookstore right next door to my hotel. That is what I call serendipity!
Located in the heart of downtown Victoria, this bookstore has is very hard to miss. The first thing that caught my attention as I walked in was the beautiful architecture. You can tell that the building has been modernized but that old school charm has been maintained as well. There are also beautiful fabric banners on one side of the wall that depict the four seasons. Back home in Montreal, I tend to spend most of my time in Chapters/Indigo and sometimes venture out to the used bookstores scattered around our city. It was great to explore something completely different from what I am use to seeing.
The selection of books ranged from new releases, classics, autobiographies, cookbooks and so much more. There was a whole wall of fiction, which I gravitated towards right away. I was also grateful for the section with staff picks because all the options were overwhelming me. Needless to say, I was ready to give away all my money to this cute bookstore. There was also a nice tourist section with books about Victoria and it’s many attractions. I quickly flipped through some of these books and added a few spots to my itinerary. The staff was incredibly kind and attentive. One of the staff members even gave me a bit of a history lesson regarding the bookstore and the first owner. There were also various bookish items for sale at reasonable prices. I came close to buying a “I love Mr. Darcy” tote bag but a quick poll on bookstagram gave me the impression that it would be next level cheesy. Looking at my boring tote bag right now, I realize leaving it behind was a mistake. Quick advice: always buy the bookish item!
Munro’s Books is located at 1108 Government Street Victoria, BC.
I was already on cloud nine from my experience in Munro’s Books. Then comes along a little message in my instagram DM from a fellow bookstagrammer who tells me there is an even bigger bookstore located just three blocks from where I am staying. Needless to say, I fired up my GPS and made my way to the location. Can I say serendipity again?
Also located in the heart of downtown Victoria, this bookstore was huge. I’m pretty sure if I did not look touristy already, my reaction as I entered the bookstore gave me away. I squealed and did a little spin taking in the endless aisles of books. There was every section you can imagine: cooking, gardening, literature, poetry and a little salute to Harry Potter hidden in various aisle. As I was looking for the fiction section, one of the workers told me I could find that section upstairs. “Hold on…THERE IS AN UPSTAIRS?”
Yep, there are two floors of endless piles and aisles of books. The fiction section was gigantic. It took me a while to make my way through each aisle and trying hard to pick just one book. There was also staff recommendations when you feel too lost or overwhelmed by all the options. There are piles of books lying around on the floors as well so you never know where your next great find will be hiding. The books were generally in great condition and the prices were very reasonable. Of course the staff was very welcoming and helpful.
Russell books is located on 734 Fort St, Victoria BC.
Of course you are always drawn to what you know. Walking out of Russell Books, I saw Chapters down another street so I decided to give it a little visit. It feels weird entering another Chapters and not knowing where everything is located. It made me realize how I am usually on autopilot in the bookstores in Montreal. Having three bookstores in close proximity to each other made it a fun little afternoon of bookstore hopping. Since I was only in town for a couple of days, I could not spend too much time at each location. Therefore, I believe another trip is due soon to fully experience these places.
I brought one book along with me on my trip to Victoria. Into the Water by Paula Hawkins seemed to be an appropriate choice and I thought it would make a great beach read. However, I underestimated how distracted I would become by Victoria’s beautiful scenic views. This made paying attention to the book very difficult. Even reading on the plane was cut short when I looked out the window and saw the mountaintops. Sadly, I did not get far in my reading but my book did end up making its way through many beautiful locations.
Here is my book chilling by the ocean at Beacon Hill Park:
Here is my book doing a tour with me at Fisherman’s Warf:
Here is my book keeping my tepid tea company as I completely ignore it due to the beautiful views out my window:
If you are going to the Canadian westcoast, it would be really easy to forget about bookstores and enjoy your time by the water. However, I strongly recommend taking a stroll in these two bookstores. Even if you are not a reader, I believe you would enjoy the gorgeous architecture.
Happy travelling and reading!