Literary Tourism: Kingston, Ontario, Canada
[image description: An open book with a dried maple leaf laying on top of the page. Appropriate since Canada is known for its maple leaves.]
Every year my husband and I go on a road trip, so earlier this summer we circled Lake Erie and Lake Ontario. That took me into Canada for the first time, where I found one of my favorite cities: Kingston, Ontario.
We’d planned the trip such that we were driving between one and three hours a day every day, except for when we were in Kingston. Where we’d stayed one night everywhere else, we stayed two there––and the city did not disappoint.
There were probably several bookstores in Kingston that we could’ve gone to, but we were so tired of being in the car that we opted to go to the one that was within walking distance of our AirBnB. You could say it was a Novel Idea. Pun absolutely intended.
There’s no way I wouldn’t love a bookstore with a punny name, so I knew I was in good hands before I even went in. And there was a cart with discount books outside––another good sign.
I’ve seen some good window displays at bookstores before, so I was a little confused at first as to why Novel Idea’s was sparse. But then I remembered the kind of damage sun does to books. As nice as the displays are, I can’t blame them for not wanting the book covers bleached!
Mr. Off the Beaten Shelf knows the drill: I take pictures of new bookstores we visit before we go in. But he doesn’t like to be in pictures. His enthusiasm for Novel Idea got the best of him.
Inside, the place was impeccably organized. They had between one and four copies of a lot of different books (as opposed to stacks of 10 or 20 of bestsellers), which tells me they’re trying to meet the needs of a diverse reading population.
We were on this particular road trip celebrating our one year wedding anniversary, which just so happens to be the paper anniversary. For gifts, we decided to pick books out for each other. If the photo below is any indication, Mr. Off the Beaten Shelf was thrilled with the selection. It took a lot of willpower not to buy everything on our list from Novel Idea and not bother visiting bookstores in other cities on the rest of the trip!
Mr. Off the Beaten Shelf was especially impressed with Novel Idea’s robust travel section. He loves a good travel memoir.
One thing I love about visiting bookstores wherever I travel is seeing what selections they have that I wouldn’t find at home. At Novel Idea, that section was Canadian Local History.
I was also looking for books that might be published in Canada but not in the US. I found one such book: Birds Art Life: A Year of Observation by Kyo Maclear, published by Anchor Canada. If it is published in the US, I’ve never seen or heard of it so I might not have otherwise found it if not for Novel Idea.
Kingston has an extremely walkable downtown, which we took full advantage of. The city is right on the water, so we took our book purchases to a nice spot to sit on the water. What’s better than an Adirondack chair on the water?
I’ll tell you what’s better. DUCKS. Cute little ducks swimming by you while you’re sitting in an Adirondack chair on the lake with a bag full of books. It’s just perfection.
We adored Kingston and would definitely go back again. I hope you’ll have the chance to check it out one day. There’s a book in Novel Idea with your name on it.