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Books Again

We moved to Cochrane in 2011. In our old Calgary home, I had a large collection of books that I had read. Back then, I never got rid of them. I had novels, art books with printed paintings or photographs, manuals, technical reference books, and books that I used while I was still working for others, prior to full retirement.

Realising that we were downsizing our home when we moved to Cochrane, I decided to do a brutal culling of my book collection. I came up with two criteria to help me. That was to keep me from being too emotional about what I was going to get rid of. One criterion was, how long ago was it that I had that book off the shelf to read? If that was more than about two years, then out it went. That was effective. The other was equally effective—if I could get the book as an ePub or eBook to read on my iPad or iPhone, then out it went.

First, I offered my two sons the opportunity to go over my bookshelves and take what they wanted. That got rid of about four books! Then I made the same offer to friends and neighbours. That got rid of about another four. Now there were only around 100 books left.

I took a few boxes of selected books to a couple of used book stores to see if they wanted them, for free. They took time to look, but very quickly determined they didn’t want any. Sadly, the remaining books went the way of the recycle bin, but I had no choice. I simply wasn’t going to have the room in the new house.

During the years since 2011, I continue to read. My reading material is often on my iPad or real paper books from the local library. Our library in Cochrane is on the Alberta Marigold Library System and TRAC (The Regional Automation Consortium) through which I have access to all the libraries in the province that are on that system. These are libraries that are not in the big cities and they use these systems to provide access to many more books that any one, small library could have on its own. It’s marvellous.

What I have found over the last ten years is that I tend not to read as much on my iPad as I thought I would. As much as the ePub / eBook idea makes sense, for some reason I still find I’m more comfortable to be reading from a physical book. There are other reasons.

I often read when I wake up in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep. I learned in a sleep clinic I attended, that I should get out of bed, sit somewhere else and read a book. It’s best to read a paper book with normal lighting and not from a computer or other device.

Another reason is that I often like to share something I’ve read. I either loan one of my books or pass it on to friends and readers I know.

Although I can use an eBook or ePub as a reference document for looking up information, there are some subjects for which I like a physical reference book. Some examples are: ‘Just Write’ by James Scott Bell; ‘Letters’ by Robert Genn; ‘The Gregg Reference Manual’; ‘Photography and the Art of Seeing’ by Freeman Patterson; or ‘The Essence of Photography’ by Bruce Barnbaum.

Using our Cochrane library has been good, but I still come across books, new and used, that I buy. Wandering into a bookstore, especially a used bookstore, continues to pose a threat to my wallet.

This year, in early May, my wife and I made a trip to the west coast in order to attend the celebration-of-life of a very dear friend of mine. During that trip we encountered two of my very favourite book stores and duly paid homage to them, wallet in hand.

Bacchus Books & Cafe in Golden beckons us off the TransCanada Highway every time we drive through that part of the Windermere Valley. Golden is perfectly placed for a place to stop for lunch when driving west and we have always liked the food at the cafe part of that bookstore.

Baccus Books, Golden BC

Once again we left Bacchus that day with several book purchases in our arms.

As usual, we ate lunch in the cafe. This time the good food at the cafe moved up even further in our gastronomical chart to the superb level! I had the soup of the day which was, as usual, made from scratch in the cafe. It was one of those wholesome, meatless soups and I could have easily eaten a second bowl. Instead, I added to that a sandwich and, get this, the menu title of the sandwich was Oven Roasted Chicken, Brie, Pesto & Pear. The chicken was actually breast meat from a real chicken, not the packaged and sliced prepared chicken that has much too much salt in it. I was expecting the normal red tomato pesto or the green basil pesto. Instead, the pesto was made from scratch in the cafe and added a taste like nothing I’d ever had before. That was an outstanding sandwich.

I talked to the two young women that run the cafe and complimented them on the freshness and taste of their food. We then had a grand chat about how they prepare all their food from scratch, including the tasty pesto. I should mention that this is not a fast-food cafe. You need to allow time for your food to be freshly prepared, unless you just want some tasty baking and a coffee to go. The added good news is that, while you’re waiting, you can browse the bookshelves that line the cafe walls for books you might like. I found two used books while waiting for my lunch and they now sit on my reading table at home as I work my way through them.

My wife and I have always liked Sidney on Vancouver Island. To be honest, we liked it better as it was about twenty years ago, but we still visit every time we travel to the island. Two places that were and still are key stops for us are Fish on Fifth and Tanner’s Books.

Our fish and chips meal was as good as ever, but the cost gave us ‘sticker shock’. We have to check our memories at times like this, as, like you old folks out there understand, we remember what it all cost those twenty years ago. This is especially true of places like this, that we haven’t been to for many years.

After our meal, we reflected on a fish and chips meal we had last summer in St. John’s, Newfoundland. There we were treated to some of the best fish and chips we’ve ever eaten. I can’t imagine anywhere that can exceed the freshness and taste of the fish and chips meal at The Duke of Duckworth restaurant on Duckworth Street, St. John’s. Fish of Fifth has been firmly knocked off the top.

We did get to Tanner’s Books on this trip, but we didn’t get our timing quite right. We arrived ten minutes before closing time rather than the hour and a bit that we thought we had. Regardless, that was enough time to find and buy a couple of books. What we like about Tanner’s is that they laid out for purchase many Canadian authors books as well as a superb collection of Canadian magazines.

The greater areas of Sidney and Victoria are popular places for expat Britains to live, so Tanner’s makes a point of ensuring there are lots of popular British authored books and publications available. I don’t seem to be able to leave the place without some such book or magazine.

So, a few more physical reading materials are now on our bookshelves at home. A couple are useful reference books and so I will probably keep them, but there are a few that will be passed on once I finish reading them. I’ve already finished one book and have a couple of friends who would like to read it. It’s no longer in print, so it is a bit of a treasure for them to be able to read. I’ll leave it with them to pass on, if they wish.


The greatest part of a writer’s time is spent in reading. In order to write, a man will turn over half a library to make one book.

Samuel Johnson


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29 mai 2023

Good essay. When we moved to our house in Keturah I got rid of so many books and kept a select few. I was just looking downstairs this week and decided it's time to cull them again. I enjoy reading so much but like you mentioned it is so easy to either listen or read books from the library or other sources and they don't take up space in the house.


29 mai 2023

Great read Jack. I too have been a reader in the past but time and tide wait for no man, so my time seems divided to other things these days. I‘ve been using “guest” in my replies because I forgot my password on your site. I will make up a new one.

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