This west-end neighbourhood has great places to score some literature—and pretty places to read it.
Could there be a finer neighbourhood for a book lover than Roncesvalles Village?
Located in the west end, the Roncesvalles Avenue shopping strip is a short walk or ride on the 504 streetcar from Dundas West subway station. (It’s also reachable by taking the 506 or 501 streetcars west from downtown, and it’s a few minutes’ walk from Bloor station on the UP Express). Locals know it as a traditionally Polish area with a kid- and dog-friendly vibe, beautiful houses and great places to eat.
High Park awaits just to the west, for those who yearn to lie back on a picnic blanket and read among the trees. Should you prefer to plunk down on the sand, Sunnyside Beach beckons to the south.
If you’re more of an indoor-dwelling bookworm, choose among a number of welcoming coffee shops (Jimmy’s Coffee, Reunion Coffee Roasters, Lit Espresso Bar or Extra Butter Coffee). A booth at the Inter Steer Tavern can also serve as your book nook, if you wish to read with a pint in hand.
Now all you need is something to read. You’re covered there too, at these local bookstores.
Long before the Black Lives Matter and Idle No More movements gained popular traction, Another Story carried books that would one day fuel their fire. For more than 30 years, this independent bookstore has specialized in titles of interest to supporters of diversity, social justice and marginalized voices. It also offers an admirable selection of new releases, cookbooks, magazines and kids’ lit. 315 Roncesvalles Ave.
If the lure of lucky finds and the scent of old paper draws you to used bookstores, go and see what you can score at A Good Read. Recent arrivals populate the front of the store; keep moving toward the back to discover rarities, collectibles and unexpected finds. 341 Roncesvalles Ave.
Named for, in its own words, “the first song from the second album by one of the best bands in the world” (namely Fifth Column), She Said Boom! is the sort of used book and record store you’ll enjoy if you also have a head full of pop-culture knowledge. While the shelves unquestionably contain a quotient of quirk (rare science fiction, Japanese crooners on vinyl), the front windows tempt passers-by with recent bestsellers. (This is one of two locations, the other being in Harbord Village.) 393 Roncesvalles Ave.
Toronto is rightly proud of its extensive network of public libraries, and the High Park location on Roncesvalles Avenue is a fine example of a neighbourhood branch. Paid for with a grant from Scottish-American industrialist Andrew Carnegie, the library was completed in 1916, has been renovated a few times since then, and is worth visiting for a quiet browse and read even if you don’t have a Toronto library card. 228 Roncesvalles Ave.
Build up the alphabetic prowess of budding readers at the Old Country Shop. The store specializes in European gifts, especially from the German-speaking world. Yet its repertoire of wooden letter blocks goes well beyond the Roman alphabet. If you’ve ever wanted to build a tower out of, say, Korean or Cyrillic characters, block off some time for a visit here. 355 Roncesvalles Ave.
Getting to Roncesvalles Village:
- Take the Line 2 Bloor-Danforth subway to Dundas West station
- Or, take the 501 streetcar westbound from downtown