McNally Robinson Saskatoon
As I sit at my desk at home trying, but sometimes failing, not to feel sorry for myself over life in the midst of the Covid 19 pandemic I thought about what the virus has meant with regard to my purchasing of books.
In March, when non-essential businesses were closed in Saskatchewan, bookstores were on the list. While the doors were closed books could be purchased by phone or electronically and curbside pickup was allowed.
I cherish the experience of going to bookstores. I love browsing the shelves, taking a peek inside potential purchases and considering unexpected books. Unable to visit bookstores I did not avail myself of the phone or internet to buy books for a couple of months.
There was no shortage of books around me. My TBR piles could have lasted me the rest of 2020 and long into 2021.
On April 22 I made my first book purchases of the pandemic when I ordered by email the shortlist for the Arthur Ellis Award for Best Canadian Crime Fiction novel from the Sleuth of Baker Street bookstore in Toronto. The quintet of books were duly delivered to our office mailbox in Melfort. (There is neither house nor business mail delivery in Melfort.)
By early May I really wanted to go book shopping. I could have gone to one of the big box stores such as Costco or local grocery stores and pharmacies which had been allowed to stay open. I refused to get any books at those stores as it struck me as unfair that they could display and sell books but bookstores were closed.
With our province having few cases compared to almost anywhere, the provincial government started re-opening the province. Bookstores were allowed to re-open as of May 19. I did not rush to Saskatoon.
A couple of weeks later in early June Sharon had a medical appointment in Saskatoon. Later in the day we visited the McNally Robinson bookstore and I bought a couple of books. It did not really feel comfortable shopping so I did not spend much time at the store.
Just over a month later in mid-July we met our sons and families at the Saskatoon Indigo store. (Indigo is a part of Chapters - the large Canadian bookstore chain). While waiting I did browse the store and held myself to a few books.
When Jonathan arrived with our granddaughters, Hannah and Hazel, we went back into the store. Hannah, 2 ¾ years old, charged around the kids section pulling out and looking at books. Eventually she, with a little encouragement from Grandpa, chose a little cardboard suitcase containing 7 Paddington Bear books. She was also ready to take home a new backpack until her Dad said her current backpack was just fine. Her little sister Hazel, just over 1, was content to have her Dad find her a book.
At the end of July I wanted to get the books from the shortlist for the 2020 Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction so I ordered them and a couple more from Sleuth.
In late August we were in Calgary for a visit and went to the neighbourhood bookstore, Pages, in the Kensington District. Hannah had a hard time deciding between two books. I appreciated her dilemma. I equally found it challenging to get just one book.
In September I was in Regina for a hearing when the evidence was concluded early one day. I drove to the large Chapters store at the south end of the city and had a fine time looking through the mysteries. I went for a book and left with 3 books which is how bookstore shopping usually proceeds for me.
Sharon and I were back in Saskatoon in mid-October and I went to two bookstores. My first stop was at Westgate Books, my favourite used bookstore in the city, where I bought the opening book, Murder in the Marais, in the Aimée Leduc series. I went on to McNally Robinson where I bought the newest books by Gail Bowen and Louise Penny.
That trip was the last time I have been in a bookstore. While bookstores remain open, with our province experiencing a surge in Covid cases, we have not ventured outside Melfort for almost two months. We do not expect to be in Saskatoon until the end of the year.
During November I did make a further order from Sleuth of Baker Street which has arrived. The trio of books includes Mortmain Hall by Martin Edwards.
I have asked Santa for some books including the latest books by Michael Connelly and John Grisham. It would be a sad Christmas if I did not get any books. I am optimistic Santa will come through.
In a province long dominated by a farm economy the cry of “next year” is a constant theme. I am optimistic I will be able to freely visit bookstores sometime in 2021. I hope it is sooner rather than later.