There’s nothing quite like the quintessential charm of local bookstores. From newbies and comic geeks to the everyday bookworm, book shops bring the community together with their warm and inviting atmosphere that makes us want to linger for hours and stock up on literary gems to enjoy on transit, the sofa or a favourite park bench.
We can’t help but love these places and University District wants to make it as easy as possible to find a local book shop that will help you learn about a new author, branch into fresh genres or simply make your heart thump over the classics and unleash your inner book nerd.
To help you explore the NW, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best bookstores in our neck of the woods, as well as hidden gems located right around the corner where you can peruse the pages of your next literary find. And because we’ll find any excuse to celebrate the written word, we’ve included a book list of summer and fall must-reads courtesy of our very own U/D team and some simple tips to get you reading more. Perhaps they will inspire you to create your own outdoor or indoor reading zone or a book club and a book list to go with it!
Escape the everyday. Whether that means travelling to a nearby park, your neighbourhood library or an eclectic coffee shop. Transport to another place or time through an incredible story with our list of must-visit book shops and local jaunts. Let’s dive in!
Shop the ample shelves for a great read at Chapter’s Indigo, where the selection of books are plentiful and losing all sense of time is almost inevitable. A one-stop shop, Chapters Indigo is a gem with its endless racks of stories and characters for little picture book lovers to fans of top-rated series!
Activity: Pick up a tea latte and walk over to University District’s North Pond Park located just minutes from Market Mall. Sit on the ascending steps as you take note of the zen water sounds from the nearby fountain, curl up under a leafy tree for some much-needed shade, or spread out on the grass with a good book and get lost in the pages for a while. Enjoy reading with sunshine as your lamp and a nearby dandelion as your bookmark. What could be more relaxing?
University District North Pond Park: Corner of Shaganappi Trail and 32nd Avenue. NW | myuniversitydistrict.ca
Photo Credit: The Naked Leaf
Calgary’s literary meeting place, this adorable locally owned bookstore is a treasure trove of new, used and bargain books. Pages – as much a fixture in our quadrant of the city as its neighbour, the Plaza Theatre – prides itself on its lasting and vast collection of novels. Whether it’s fiction or non-fiction, this quaint bookshop is dedicated to showcasing the best, including some of Canada’s finest authors.
Activity: Connoisseurs of the tea leaf know that the right tea can enhance your reading experience. That’s why we recommend making a date for one (or two!) at the Naked Leaf, following your mid-morning or afternoon outing at Page Books. Locally owned and beautifully decorated with art, this boutique tea shop in the heart of Kensington serves up a roobios root beer that’s incredible. Give it a whirl as you drown in the pages of your latest read!
Indulge your geeky obsessions at this beloved local comic shop with a 25-year history in NW Calgary. Among its stacks you will find thousands of graphic novels of all genres. From Spiderman and Batman to Sandman and Walking Dead, Phoenix Comics has one of the finest comic-related selections in the city. We’re ready to hop on the comic book and graphic novel train!
Activity: After taking in the very best in comic book art, fetch a snack from one of many bistros and cafes in the bustling Kensington shopping district and continue your day of exploration with a visit to beautiful Riley Park. Make the day’s fun last a little longer by soaking up some literature along with those rays. Sink into a few chapters of your latest sci-fi novel or read a splashy book to your little ones as they recharge before heading down the slide again (and again, and again!) at the nearby playground.
Phoenix Comics: 1010 16 Ave NW| (403) 220-1399| phoenixcomics.ca
Riley Park: 800 12 St NW| (403) 268-2489| calgary.ca
Photo Credit: University of Calgary
In the day of the podcast and tablet, have you forgotten the nostalgic smell of old books? Dig out your library card and get reacquainted with some lovingly tattered, and best of all, free books! A haven for book lovers, the Taylor Family Digital Library (TFDL) is the perfect place to spend hours perusing the shelves as you take in the intoxicating smell of rows and rows of books. Whether you need in-depth information on a certain subject or you simply want to sit down and sink into a good book, it’s easy to lose yourself amongst the stacks. The main library at the University of Calgary, the TFDL is the most technologically advanced library in North America and the first to contain a video game library. Calling all gamers and written word enthusiasts!
Activity: Like pairing wine with cheese, picking a drink to go with your book can be a fine art. Some books require something sweet and savoury, others yearn for something with a bit of a kick. Luckily Chatime has something for everyone. From their world famous signature milk teas to their classical Taiwanese health drinks and savoury mousse-topped beverages, it’s easy to see why they are a fan-favourite among tea aficionados. Try its tea of the month – Peach Green Tea with rainbow jelly – it’s simply delicious and University District approved!
Taylor Family Digital Library: 410 University Ct NW| (403) 220-8895 | library.ucalgary.ca
Chatime: 10 Brentwood Common Northwest #120 | (587) 356-0966 | chatime.com
Photo Credit: Amandine Bakery
Words and Pictures is so much more than a bookstore – it’s also an action figure collector’s dream, a pastime shop for board game connoisseurs, and a comic lovers retreat. Whether you’re keeping up with a current series or hunting down a hard-to-get vintage comic book, Words and Pictures offers a wide selection of titles (new and old!) and has the largest collection of back issues in the city! After 32 years in operation, it’s no wonder this vintage bookstore is a popular favourite among nerdy newbies, comic geeks and experts!
Activity: Make a date next door at Amandine Bakery, a well-loved delicatessen that’s bringing Europe’s old world charm to NW Calgary and beyond with their swoon-worthy macaroons and cakes. Nibble on a dainty petite four or opt for an oh-so-light, yet rich and cream croquembouche as you peruse through your latest find from Phoenix Comics. Grab-and-go or eat-in-and-relax!
Words and Pictures: 2610 Centre St N | (403) 282-8870 | Website
Amandine Bakery: 2610 Centre St N #3 | (403) 276-3532 | amandinebakery.net
With fall and winter around the corner, there’s no better way to spend Calgary’s warmer days than lazing in the sun with a good book. To get you started, our eclectic team of readers offers up their personal summer favourites. We hope this list provides you with some inspiration and surprising literary adventures!
From working every day and rushing around trying to get errands done, to studying time and daily distractions like our phones, kids and grandkids. Finding time in a busy schedule for reading can be tough, but U/D is here to help with some simple tips to help you get into the routine. Before you know it, you won’t be able to stop reading!
Tip 1: Find a quiet space
Whether at a nearby café with comfy chairs or a room in your home with a chaise to relax in, find a place where you can curl up with a good book without the distraction of your phone (turn it on silent of airplane mode!), a television, music or noisy family members or roommates.
Tip 2: Set time aside
It doesn’t have to be hours a day! Start by getting into a pattern with your reading – before bed or a few pages at lunch – by putting aside ten to fifteen minutes each day.
Tip 3: Try short stories or poems
Short stories and poems are a great way of making progress, without feeling intimidated by the hundreds of pages in front of you. Dip in and out at your leisure when you have a few minutes to spare!
Tip 4: Have a library day
Even cheaper than a bargain bookstore is a library! Turn reading into a date night activity by making a trip to the library. On the way home, stop at your neighbourhood café for a warm mug of tea or hot chocolate, a sweet treat for two and a stimulating conversation.
Tip 5: Pick something you think you’ll like to read
Find books that grip your interest and keep you going. Even if they aren’t literary masterpiece, go for books that tell a great story and are fun to read. There’s nothing like getting lost in the pages with a good book!
Tip 6: Make it fun!
Don’t take it so seriously! If you enjoy reading at sunset or with a cup of joe curled up in a comfy chair or by acting out the story with your kids for some added excitement, do it! Have fun with it and make reading time your favourite time of day.
Whether you decide to embark on a literal journey with a new novel, reread an old favourite or decide to dabble in a whole new genre, when it comes to reading, explore everything the world of literature has to offer. You may not like everything you read. You just have to find what’s right for you!
The University District blog is a resource for Calgarians who want to live, work, play, visit or buy in the northwest. We will provide you with information, stories, news and inspiration about the things that matter so you can live a more inspired, active and connected life in NW Calgary at University District… Life works here.