28 October 2013

Two Books and One Stingray


 I began a period of mourning (and moaning) last April when my favourite bookshop closed.  Nicholas Hoare was a bit of bookish nirvana with its cosy interior and shelves full of books hot off the press from all over Britain (the sort I love best!).  No trip to Toronto since that sad day has felt quite the same.  Until recently.

My husband and I had booked a week off from work to get some things done around the house.  With most of our domestic duties checked off of the list we decided to visit the new aquarium in town.  The admission is rather pricey but compared to a round-trip transatlantic excursion...well, that sort of thinking can justify all sorts of trouble, can't it.  The aquarium is located near the base of the CN Tower and near the train station so we left the car at home and felt righteous as we whizzed past everyone stuck in commuter hell.

Straight away our senses were hit with fantastic colour, mesmerizing music, and thousands of small fish reflecting the light streaming into their massive tank.  Once further along, the dim lighting assures your gaze will head straight for the next tank full of exotic marine life and man-made coral.  At one point we were in a tunnel with fish swimming all around us; a slow moving conveyor makes it easy to simply stand there in amazement and gawk.  It took us over three hours to soak in the sights of everything from jellyfish to sharks to stingrays...


...and getting the chance to pet one was too good to pass up (oh yes, that's me!).  Their skin starts off a bit rough and bumpy and then toward the end they get sort of velvety.  The one above took great pleasure in flicking its pectoral fin as a fine 'how do you do', spraying me with water as it glided towards deeper water.  If you are ever heading to Toronto I can highly recommend putting this place on your itinerary and we will definitely be going back!

After a late lunch at a pub we browsed for a bit at Chapters, a chain bookshop.  Always lovely but so frustrating with endless shelves full of mainstream contemporary fiction.  The October edition of the BBC History magazine looked excellent with less than usual articles on medieval warfare and politics so I bought a copy for the train ride home.  The thirty percent chance of rain turned out to be one hundred and the skies darkened to black as we made our way back to Union Station.  Without an umbrella we were resigned to a soaking but then we passed a shop full of warm lighting, gorgeous shelves...and books!  Books hot off of the press from Britain!  The rain no longer mattered, my damp sweater barely registered.

With fifteen minutes until closing time all that I could manage was a quick whip around but it was enough to know that this is my new 'happy place'.  I made a vow to the bookstore gods that from this day forward I would not leave Ben McNally Books without having purchased at least two books to do my bit to help it stay in business (see top photo - putting my money where my mouth is).

And another thing.  I am thoroughly enjoying The Readers podcast featuring Simon Savidge and as of late, our friend, Thomas, from My Porch.  My iPod comes to bed with me for those times when I wake up in the middle of the night and can't fall back to sleep for all of the useless wondering that goes on in my head.  It's so much more entertaining to listen to Thomas, or Gavin, and Simon talk about books.  Simon's enthusiasm for Kate Atkinson's Life After Life intrigued me enough to sign it out from the library and I loved it!  The only trouble is that I gave up taking notes with the plentiful vignettes that are Ursula's life and have no idea where to begin sharing my thoughts on the story.  The only thing I can offer is to sit back and enjoy the sheer brilliance of a book in which you will have absolutely no idea what happens next!

So there it is.  Apologies for copping out on a review but I must now get straight on to another library book before my due date lapses and then it's on to my Beryl Bainbridge book.  Another new author for me thanks to a mention from Simon S!  Has anyone read it...or her?

14 comments:

  1. I've read it, Darlene - but about 30 years ago, so I'm afraid I'm no help! I had a big Bainbridge habit in the mid-70s. Love the egg and chips book jacket.

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  2. PS Is that an LP Hartley lurking in the background?

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    1. How rude of me not to mention it...you are spot on, Mary. It is 'The Boat' and I have no idea whether it's good or not but I do like Hartley so we shall soon find out.

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  3. So many people have mentioned the Kate Atkinson book that I must get my hands on one. I love the sound of that bookstore!

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    1. It's a rare thing these days for me to reach for a book published before 1960 but this one was well worth the temptation. Perhaps the fact that it opens with a scene from WWII reeled me in...

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  4. I've not read that BB, but was introduced to the author when Annabel/Gaskella ran a Beryl Bainbridge Reading Week last year - I loved Injury Time especially.

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    1. Oh, thanks for mentioning that title, Simon! I am loving A Quiet Life so far and will definitely be reading more Bainbridge in the future.

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  5. Oh, happy day! I still have two excellent indie bookstores in my orbit (one in my old neighborhood, one in my new) and I definitely don't buy enough from them. I'm going to try harder. (And I listen to audiobooks to help me fall asleep! That probably isn't very flattering to the books, but I am grateful to them.)

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    1. Hahaha...reminds me of a trip we took to New Hampshire. The cottage had no television so we fell asleep to audiobooks. In the morning we had to review who had got to what point so we knew where to pick up the next night. You're right, not flattering but oh so comforting.

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  6. Like Simon, my first BB was for the reading week - I loved The Bottle Factory Outing - dark and quirky and funny and slightly sinister, all in one.

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    1. Thanks so much, vicki, it's on order at the library!

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  7. What a lovely day, I do like a visit to an aquarium.

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    1. When the snows begin to blow we'll be heading back to bask in the warmth and colours. A bit like scuba diving in Bermuda without the expense...or close encounters with sharks!

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