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Elinor Florence (Company name) Elinor Florence

Ten Top Bookstores

Enjoy these reading recommendations from ten top bookstores that are dear to my heart. On Canadian Independent Bookstore Day, April 29, 2023, please buy a book from your local indie to show your support. You might even win a thousand-dollar gift certificate!

I contacted ten independent bookstores and asked managers for the title of their favourite book. What an interesting exercise! They came up with a broad range of interests and genres.

I’ve browsed through every one of these delightful bookstores, and held author readings in four of them. They are not listed in any particular order, but I’ll start with my own hometown bookstore first.

Ten Top Bookstores: Four Points Books, Invermere, BC

Grant Hofer, who took the plunge and opened his very first bookstore ever in 2022 with his wife Thiloma, skipped the latest bestsellers and went straight to one of the classics, first published in 1952.

He says: “My favourite book of all-time is East of Eden, by John Steinbeck. As an author, Steinbeck (for me) has a magical ability to find the beauty in the mundane, and East of Eden is his magnum opus. A sprawling tale about families and relationships, it’s a wonderfully readable classic novel full of plot, beauty, revenge, and love. Timshel!”

(From Elinor: It’s been a few years since I read East of Eden, and I had forgotten that the word “timshel” means man’s freedom to choose between good and evil. Timshel is the word that God utters to Cain when exiling him to the lands east of Eden.) 

Ten Top Bookstores, Grant Hofer, Four Points Books, Invermere, BC

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Ten Top Bookstores: Huckleberry Books, Cranbrook, BC

Owner Erin Dalton found it difficult to choose. We can probably all relate to her dilemma! She said: “Author Neil Gaiman has a great quote on the subject: ‘Picking five favorite books is like picking the five body parts you’d most like not to lose.’

“But . . . The House in the Cerulean Sea by T. J. Klune is probably in my top five. It’s a warm hug in book form that stands up to multiple re-reads. In fact, the first time I read it, I turned the last page, hugged the book, flipped back to the front cover and promptly started reading it again. It’s a cathartic, uplifting, quirky, affirming tale of found family. It’s also one of my favourite books to hand-sell, because I want to share Klune’s magic with everyone!

Ten Top Bookstores, Erin Dalton, Huckleberry Books, Cranbrook, BC

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Ten Top Bookstores: Bacchus Books, Golden, BC

Bookstore Manager Solange Morin works at this favourite community bookstore owned by Caleb Moss. She chose Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, written by Barbara Kingsolver and her family members.

“This little family autobiography chronicles the year they only ate local food, and is heartwarming and inspiring. Filled with stories of family occasions, learning about their land, recipe suggestions and highlighting the importance of eating local for social, environmental and economic reasons, it was a joy to read. How could you not love a book that leaves you researching turkey breeds and reproduction?!”

Ten Top Bookstores, Solange Morin, Bacchus Books, Golden, BC

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Ten Top Bookstores: Café Books, Canmore, AB

Manager Amalyn (Ami) Caluluan works at Café Books, owned by Joy McLean. Ami loves Our Missing Hearts, by Celeste Ng. “This is a deeply moving and timely novel about mother’s love and sacrifice for her little boy’s freedom. The story discussed so many social issues including Asian hate/discrimination, book bans and rebellion. It gripped me from the beginning up to the end of the story.”

Ten Top Bookstores, Amalyn (Ami) Caluluan, Cafe Books, Canmore, AB

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Ten Top Bookstores: Mulberry Bush Bookstore, Qualicum Beach, BC

Bookseller Sue Haigh works at Mulberry Bush Bookstore, owned by Tom and Barb Pope. Here she is holding one of her favourite books, Stolen, by Ann-Helén Laestadius. She says: “Based on real events, this book is a powerful, award-winning debut novel about a courageous Sami woman, struggling to defend her family’s reindeer herd and her indigenous heritage and the future of her people. I loved this book on many levels, but mostly because it beautifully details a way of life that, sadly, may be lost.”

Ten Top Bookstores, Sue Haigh, Mulberry Bush Bookstore, Qualicum Beach, BC

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Ten Top Bookstores: Owl’s Nest Books, Calgary, AB

From bookstore Co-Owner Ryan Smith: “David A. Robertson’s The Barren Grounds is a fantastic book about self-discovery and connection to culture. I look forward to every instalment in this series as a chance to return to the caring community crafted by Robertson and his loving characters.”

Top Ten Bookstores, Ryan Smith, Owl's Nest Books, Calgary, AB

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Ten Top Bookstores: Audreys Books, Edmonton, AB

Floor Manager Levi Binnema holds his most hand-sold book, one that he says opened his mind. “The Collected Schizophrenias, by Esmé Weijun Wang, is a personal essay collection that opens wide a subject that for a lot of history has been darkened by fear and suspicion. This book tackles society’s view of schizophrenia and juxtaposes it with the author’s experiences. Revelatory, witty, honest, at times brutally sad, yet there are some glimmering comedic moments as well.”

Ten Top Bookstores, Levi Binnema, Audreys Books, Edmonton, AB

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Ten Top Bookstores: McNally Robinson, Saskatoon, SK

From Assistant Manager Vince Diakuw: “House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski is a love story, a horror story, a satire of academic criticism, a meditation on trauma and loss, and an all-around life-changing read. I have revisited it annually for almost two decades, and always find something new.”

Ten Top Bookstores, Vince Diakuw, McNally Robinson Saskatoon, SK

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Ten Top Bookstores: Sea & Summit Bookshop, Parksville, BC

Bookseller Hope Regan chose a manga novel, a Japanese-inspired illustrated novel. “She and Her Cat by Makoto Shinkai is my absolute favourite comfort book! It is about four women and their cats and how their lives beautifully intersect. This little book fills me with joy and makes me want to hug all my cats!”

Ten Top Bookstores, Hope Regan, Sea & Summit Bookshop, Parksville, BC

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Ten Top Bookstores: Type Books, Toronto, ON

Claire Foster is the Manager of Type Books, the Queen Street location (there are three Type Books locations in Toronto). She says: “One of my favorite books is The Baudelaire Fractal by Lisa Robertson, who lives in France but is Canadian, and a friend of the store (this novel was published in 2020 by Toronto indie press Coach House Books). It is a book that traces the narrator’s coming-to-writing, through her histories of reading, of desiring, of wearing and buying and thinking in jackets, of staying in various hotel rooms, of writing in her notebook.

“I love this book, and keep it near me at all times, almost as one would a reference book  –  it is an index of a poet’s becoming, a highly charged vocabulary of thinking and living.”

Ten Top Bookstores, Claire Foster, Type Books, Toronto, ON

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Canadian Independent Bookstore Day, April 29, 2023

Artwork by Alex MacAskill

Canadian Independent Bookstore Day, illustration by Alex MacAskill


Now, here’s the good news: If you buy a book from an independent bookstore on Saturday, April 29, and fill out the online application before midnight on Sunday, April 30, you could win a gift certificate worth $1,000, $500, or $250 to be spent at the indie bookstore of your choice! Just imagine being able to spend a thousand bucks on books!

(One book = one entry, unless it’s by a Canadian author, and then you get two entries). Find all the details here: Contest Details

Friends, YOU can help me promote independent bookstores on Facebook and Instagram.


I’m on Facebook as Elinor Florence-Author at

I’m on Instagram as elinorflorence at

(Of course you may also follow me without sharing any posts – I welcome all new followers!)

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Elinor’s Audiobooks

And for those who prefer listening to reading . . .

My novel Wildwood is now available on all APPLE DEVICES ONLY as an audiobook, being read by a robot named Madison! I imagine this is how she might look, rather than a disembodied voice. Some readers have said they can’t tell the difference!

Find Wildwood on your Apple Books by searching the title. The audiobook cover has a tiny set of headphones beside it. You can listen to a sample before you buy.

Madison the robot reading Wildwood, by Elinor Florence

My novel Bird’s Eye View is also an audiobook, available on Amazon, and it was read by a real live person, a lovely woman named Francine Brody. Here’s the link: Bird’s Eye View Audiobook.

Francine Brody, narrator of Bird's Eye View audiobook, by Elinor Florence

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Elinor’s Book Clubs

I’m still Zooming away with book clubs and service clubs. So far this year I have visited with six of them, including a small group of seniors who live in the Homesteader Lodge in tiny Hines Creek, Alberta. The residents have first-hand knowledge of Molly’s living conditions in Wildwood, and they enlightened me about a couple of things!

I also appeared, virtually of course, before this big group of readers at the Toscana Country Club in Indian Wells, California.

Message me if you’d like to set up something with your own group!

Author Elinor Florence speaks via Zoom to readers at the Toscana Country Club, Indian Wells, CA

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Friends, if one of you is fortunate enough to win a bookstore gift certificate, please let me know! I hope the lucky winners will come from one of the ten top bookstores featured here. What is your favourite independent bookstore? Post the name below in the comments section.

I know it’s spring and we’re all anxious to get outside – but don’t neglect your reading!

All the best, Elinor

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