FEATURES: Reaching literary climax in Montreal

Do you use your extra spending money to buy books you may never get around to reading? Can you envision yourself 40 years from now spending three fourths of the day in your lavish mahogany library? Do you stroll along bookstore shelves just to “browse” and end up buying three unnecessary items? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you have a clinical obsession with books. Don’t worry; it’s nothing to fret over. One should embrace such a condition. To help you along with your journey of book worming, here are some new havens to pick your pocket and increase your literary love:

St-Laurent is more than a club and bar-lined avenue. However, one must use a keen eye to scan the street for a few hidden treasures. The Anarchist/Alternative Bookstore, located at 2065 St-Laurent, possesses materials quite reflective of its name. You are greeted at the door by a guy in a huge sweater and backwards hat. Your eye roams shelves of books hailing political upheaval and social revolt. Right when you think you’ve seen enough bold font titles and red book covers, your eye catches a row of t-shirts draped over a sign. Yes, they are anarchist t-shirts.

Features thinks: Get your revolutionizing reading materials here and wreak some havoc!

Farther up St-Laurent at 3878 is S. W. Welch Books. Visually appealing from the start, you enter through a tattered and worn screen door to a moderately sized room lined with books. The shop is white washed leaving only the books to fill and decorate the walls, except for one sign on a door reading “All ye who enter here beware.” A table spilling over with novels displays a $1 sign. The largest sections in the shop are devoted to fictional literature and world/travel. Welch’s books are typically old editions-a 1980s hot pink copy of Maurice by Forester pops into mind-and sell for about half the price of a new edition.

Features thinks: This neat, organized shop contains a wide variety of materials that will not burn a hole in your pocket.

Jump across town to 1439 Stanley (just above Ste-Catherine) to Odyssey Books. About the size of a large bedroom, the shop is cluttered with old, used gems. Crates of vintage records greet incoming customers as they wonder toward the back wall holding racks of art auction catalogues selling for 50 per cent off. Most of the books are used and around half price. Around the corner in the film studies section, you stop short as Ingrid Bergman stares at you from the cover of Hollywood in the Forties by Charles Higham.

Features thinks: The small, yet enticing, Odyssey has something for everyone – along with affordable prices and a great location close to campus.

Meandering into Concordia territory lies Librairie Astro at 1844 Ste-Catherine – another white-washed shop in no need of decoration, thanks to a massive amount of mysteries, science fiction novels, old children’s books and comic books. Racks of aged Archie and Veronica mini comic books rim the floor. As your eyes move up the book-plastered walls, they rest upon plastic-wrapped vintage Superman and Tomb Raider comic books priced upwards of $10.

Features thinks: This venue suits children and adults alike. A helpful and knowledgeable staff will help you navigate the oodles of books and comics that extend far into the back room.

Hard to spot and even more difficult to navigate is Argo, located at 1915 Ste-Catherine. About the size of a dormitory bedroom, Argo is bursting with an eclectic mix of books. A rotating rack (which the store barely seems to have room for) houses The book of Tea by Kakuzo Okakura. Opposite to this rack is a floor-to-ceiling wall of books sectioned by world countries and world religions. Five people in the store make it too crowded to move in comfort. However, the owner is friendly and cordial with, obviously, a book in hand.

Features thinks: Great selection and some rare finds. However, if you happen to be claustrophobic, skip out on the experience.

Lastly, there is the Fouberg Complex at 1616 Ste-Catherine. There were no signs indicating a store name and when asked, the saleswoman shrugged her shoulders and chuckled “giant book sale.” So be it. Indeed, giant is a suitable adjective, for the place is huge and roomy, providing a marked contrast to Argo. Large signs designate a wide variety of topics including architecture, sports, fashion and art. The cook book selection was surprisingly impressive. Most books are new, yet prices appeared less than those of Indigo or Chapters. The entertainment table boasted a shiny, hard cover copy of Johnny Cash’s autobiography. One could easily spend forever in a place like this, especially with a sweet smelling eatery across the way in the same complex.

Features thinks: This shop is a definite must. It is extensive in selection, the help is friendly, the titles are interesting and the atmosphere is quiet despite its location.

So there you have it book lovers! Take a detour when heading to Chapters or the McGill Bookstore and explore some smaller, funkier bookshops. Browsers beware: book buying is addictive, so pace yourselves!

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