"So many books, so little time." That was the slogan on the clerk's T-shirt the first time I walked into the World's Biggest Bookstore in downtown Toronto. The year was 1981 and I was a university student, just on the verge of discovering two passions which would drive me for ever: books and travel. Once each month, after a weekend visit home (to a small hamlet north of Barrie, Ontario), I would catch the Grey Coach bus in Barrie to return to Waterloo where I was attending school. The bus trip meant a transfer in Toronto and, if I timed it right, a two-hour stop-over in the Big City. That's how this bookish country boy discovered a paradise of books. The World's Biggest Bookstore, on Edward Street, was within book-tossing distance of the bus station. The Grey Coach driver would barely pull up to stop and I'd be down the steps, making a bee-line to Edward Street. It's where I stood starry-eyed in front of something I never knew existed: an entire section devoted entirely to travel books. And that's where I purchased my first guide-book. I think it was something like "Israel on $20 per day"! (Obviously, I had to buy an updated version when I finally went to Israel couple months ago!) I would spend hour after hour in that book store over the years. I can't think how many times I missed my bus because I was immersed in all things bookish. And it's where I spent buckets of time when I eventually made my home in Toronto. Just imagine:
1. Three jam-packed storeys loaded with books. 2. 64,000 square feet to lose myself in. 3. More than 20 kilometres of bookshelves 4. Staff who knew and loved books!The World's Biggest Bookstore, that gem of Toronto's literary scene for resident and visiting book-lovers alike, will be shelved for good in February. That wonderful emporium for readers of all genres, which grew out of a converted bowling alley in 1980, will turn the last page. The news this week of its closing has left me gutted. Thanks for all the reading and the inspiration, dear bookstore. I couldn't have made it with you. Do you have a personal memory of The World's Biggest Bookstore? Where do you buy your books?