Monday, April 14, 2014

Farewell Old Friend! | World's Biggest Book store closes it's doors

It is with great sadness when an important landmark of any kind is no longer a part of your city and your life. The day I heard that this landmark was closing, I felt hopeless. There are countless reasons as to why this landmark was no longer going to be a part of our great City of Toronto, but whatever the reason, it felt wrong. Whether it was technology or the great appeal of social media & online shopping or the move to a paperless society, whatever the reasons, they weren't good enough to have to say good bye to The World's Biggest Bookstore! 

People that know me very well know my love affair for books. My very first memory of this great love was when I received my very first book. I remember walking into this particular book store and seeing all of the colourful images, the wall to wall shelves neatly lined with shiny books and seeing nothing but books. You could find big ones, small ones and everything in between. My first book purchase, rather what my Dad purchased for me, was a book called "The New Teacher". A beautiful red hard cover book that was about a Porcupine who was going to meet her new teacher and her experience with this new situation.  I read this book a million times and never tired of it.  This book brought and initiated my love for books.

From the impressionable age of 4 to the present, my love of books, libraries and of course book stores went hand in hand.  I had always heard of The World's Biggest Book store, but was never able to make the time to visit, as I have in the last 10 years.  The place was magical. It had a no frills approach to space, but it was a sea of books! Whether it was rare, hard to find, or something unique, you would find it here.  There is a scene in Home Alone 2, when Kevin sees the toy store display for the first time...THAT is the feeling I would get whenever I walked into this place.  It was a book lovers dream, an ideal place to browse for hours and feeling like you haven't even made a dent in your search of books.  It was two floors of every subject matter you could think of. It was absolutely the definition of the perfect day!

I have an eclectic collection of books from Fiction, Biographies, Comedy, History and a collection of classics that I am building slowly.  Therefore, the World's Biggest Book store provided me the opportunity to discover it all. My favourite memory of this place is the fullness of literary works you could see the minute you walked in!

When the news was made that they were going to close their doors for good on March 30th, 2014, I  had to pay my respects.  This store has been a part of Toronto for 34 years, I only got to experience it for the last 10 and discovered some amazing authors and titles.  I sadly went through my book collection and pulled out my favourite purchases, check them out below:

1. Girls of Riyadh by Rajaa Alsanea
2. The Carrie Diaries by Candace Bushnell
3. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
4. A New Earth - Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle
5. The Accidental Billionaires by Ben Mezrich
6. 100 Love Sonnets by Pablo Neruda
7. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
8. Lucky by Alice Sebold
9. Bitter is the New Black by Jen Lancaster
10. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
11. Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri
12. Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates

As I walked through the doors for my final browse, I couldn't help to notice how empty and small the space now seemed. For what was once a space filled to the brim with books, now seemed hollow and empty as each shelf, table and bin was sitting empty.  It was a sombre experience, people sitting on the steps quietly reading their soon to be final purchase from this great store, the bare shelves with only a few tables with titles left, the magazine section, which was probably the most vibrant and colourful section of the store was empty, clinical, white and cold.

As I quietly made my rounds to my favourite sections, I found a book I was meaning to get for quite some time. It was the same author who wrote The Joy Luck Club, and since that book was not available on this day, I was intrigued to get another title called "The Valley of Amazement" by Amy Tan.

I lined up for the last time, took one last look around and bid farewell to what felt like an old friend.  I paid for my book quietly, grabbed my bag and walked out the doors for the last time. Thankfully, this blog post will keep your existence more prevalent and will be a happy reminder to a part of my life that I hold so important and so close to me. 

Always Smile :) - Sand


  1. Thank you for sharing your memories of the WBB and also a peek at your favourite books you've collected. It's like losing an old friend for many of us who either worked there, or built up their book collections through many trips and afternoons spent there over the years - as I'm sure is the case for many other booklovers! Thank you for the kind parting words!
    - former WBB tweeter.

    1. Thank you for reading and sharing your comment on my post today, much appreciated. Only true book lovers in this city can understand what I was feeling. :)