This past weekend's The Vinyl Cafe (hosted by Stuart McLean), paid tribute to Canadian bookstores and booksellers. Along with an interesting look at how Stuart first fell in love with the unique community-oriented atmosphere of the local bookshop, Stuart mentions some of his favourite bookstores and talks to three different booksellers.
Of course it's natural that Stuart, whose show, along with stories, essays and music, chronicles the fictitious adventures of Dave, the owner of a second-hand music store, his wife Morley and children Stephanie and Sam, would engage in a conversation about the mystique of the bookshop -- particularly when the motto of his show (and the fictitious store Dave runs) is "We May Not Be Big, But We're Small!"
It was a great episode, featuring conversations with Paul McNally of McNally Robinson in Winnipeg, Mike Hamm of BookMark in Halifax and Andrea Minter of Russell Books (interestingly described as a bookstore so perfect that it brought a colleague of Stuart's to tears).
And though this episode didn't feature a "Dave & Morley" story, it was another fine one nonetheless, what with all the "bookstore" love contained within.
You can listen to the episode via podcast by clicking here. Better yet, if you aren't able to listen to the show each week when it airs, subscribe to the podcast feed for The Vinyl Cafe and listen to it at your own convenience.
The Vinyl Cafe Notebooks. While nothing beats listening to Stuart read one of his essays or tell one of "Dave & Morley" stories, his books, are still fantastic to read, and, given my obsession with the printed book, we've got quite a collection of them at our home.
You can get this book at any of the stores linked to above or mentioned in Stuart's episode. Or you can find a Canadian bookstore via a quick and easy search on www.findabookstore.ca. (If you're reading this in the U.S. you might want to search via IndieBound.org, which will also include links to stores in Canada)
The book itself is quite beautiful in terms of design, binding and presentation, and here's a blurb from the Penguin Canada website for it.
"Selected from 15 years of radio-show archives and re-edited by the author, this wonderfully eclectic essay collection gives a glimpse into the thoughtful mind at work behind The Vinyl Cafe. From meditations on peacekeeping to praise for the toothpick, The Vinyl Cafe Notebooks runs the gamut from considered argument to light-hearted opinion. Whether McLean is visiting a forgotten corner of the Canadian Shield, a big-city doughnut factory, or Sir John A. Macdonald's gravesite, his observations are absorbing, unexpected, and original. With thought-provoking proposals about the world we live in and introductions to the people he meets in his extensive travels across our country, The Vinyl Cafe Notebooks is informed by McLean's intimate relationship with Canada and Canadians. Yet the collection is also an intriguing look at the writer himself—his past, his present, and his vision of the future. Sometimes funny, often wise, and always entertaining, The Vinyl Cafe Notebooks is sure to provide a wealth of reading pleasure that fans will return to again and again."