Josee Lindsay Reading and Signing “Super Spark” on Saturday, November 3 from 1:00pm to 3:00pm

Come down to Books on Beechwood on Saturday, November 3 to meet children’s author Josee Lindsay. She will be here from 1:00pm to 3:00pm to read her new picture book Super Spark.

From the jacket:
“This beautifully illustrated children’s book brings a light-hearted approach to some of life’s most important lessons. Super Spark is a wise super hero who invites children to dream big, believe in the impossible, find self-acceptance, think positively and understand that we are all one. Ultimately, children learn that they are the super hero in their own lives and they can create a life with infinite possibilities.
Super Spark will appeal to parents, caregivers and teachers interested in helping children find their own inner power and discover keys to true happiness. Author Josee Lindsay hopes that Super Spark brings much joy, peace and love to children around the world.”

We look forward to seeing you and your kids at this great book event!

Spirit Quest: OF BOOKSTORES AND FIRES by Hanns F Skoutajan

Smoke billowed from the building, sometimes black then green or yellow. Flames shot into the air as the fire consumed the various chemicals, fertilizers , barbeque fluids and bricks and whatnot else, all very flammable. The hardware store had only recently acquired its stock of those toxic substances for the season.

Firemen worked diligently spraying water from aerial ladders. There were paramedics but thankfully they were not needed. Police cruisers with their lights flashing blocked off the street for many hours. People were warned away from the scene and residents were told to close their widows.

Thus came to an end the better part of a block of stores on Beechwood Avenue in the New Edinburg neighbourhood of Ottawa. Adjacent buildings around the corner on MacKay Street also suffered mostly from water damage. Students and other roomers lost their possessions in the fire. An art galleryφs precious contents were carefully loaded into a city bus and taken to safety.

All this happened about 18 months ago. Nothing has happened since except that the area was boarded over to spare the passerby from scenes reminiscent of a war zone. The Village, as I like to call it, has lost much of its essential facilities, a barber shop, dry cleaner, watch repair, United Parcel Service, Epicuria that supplied the neighbourhood with goodies as well as a small coffee shop that sold wonderful gelato, are all gone. Not a full list by any means. Some have relocated nearby but others have moved out of the area. Undoubtedly the hardware store is most missed. Will ever come back, is a frequently asked question.

The locals have wondered about the future. When will we hear of redevelopment. Roumours have come and gone. But businesses that have remained have also sensed a significant decline. One especially, Books on Beechwood, a wonderful independent community book store that I wrote about in one of my Spirit Quests a few months ago has announced their closing at the end of January.

An employee explained it this way to me. It is estimated that about 300 visited the hardware store daily. Perhaps 10 or 20 may also have dropped into the local coffee shop and bookstore to browse and buy. That dozen or so are gone which in itself is quite a blow.

Of course independent bookstores are an endangered species with ebooks and chains chewing into their business. Amazon promises 2 to 3 day delivery of any book on the market which the independents can’t match. What they can supply is a knowledgeable and affable staff that can advise and recommend from personal experience and often just offer a listening ear.

Recently when a grieving Jean Barton, owner of Books on Beechwood apprised me of her decision to close rather than await bankruptcy, I felt hollowed out. So have others with whom I sought to commiserate. Some of the friends have talked. Can Books on Beechwood be resurrected? Is there a fairy godmother or rich uncle somewhere in the woodwork? Its all been thought about and mooted. Are any of those dreams just that, like the smoke that poured from the hardware store to blow away and dissipate?

In my story about my love affair with books I recalled my first home whose walls were lined with precious volumes. None of them were to be underlined or dogeared or handled with unclean hands. All that reverence for the written word has changed. I recall a facetious article in the student newspaper at Queen’s. It was purported to be a research report. Books in the Douglas Library were examined to determine what drinks or foods were consumed with certain subjects by the stains on the pages. I admit I am much less reverent about books but my love for them has not abated. But I do underline.

Books on Beechwood was started by Jean Barton and Mary Mahoney in a small house on Beechwood Avenue 18 years ago. The house, now empty, remains an eyesore in the village along with several other hovels that their owners have ignored.

Books on Beechwood wasn’t just a store to buy books, it was a place to browse, to meet friends and read. I am often reminded of the caption in a bookstore on Queen Street East in Toronto, it read: ‘This aint the Rosedale Library’. Often my wife took our granddaughter for a scone to the cafe next door and then to the bookstore where they picked from its large collection of children’s books to read while sitting in one of their comfortable chairs and then to buy.

The store also hosted book launches, book signings by local authours, a book club. I cannot imagine the Village without the bookstore but I suppose I shall have to reconcile myself to buying my reading materials elsewhere in the city.

Independents have struggled and many more will lose. Few have been the source of wealth. Except for the chains its most likely motivation is the love of the sport.

The New Testament of the Bible begins, ‘In the beginning was the Word.’
whether cuneiform or papyrus. There were large storages of early volumes where monks slaved over manuscripts to reproduce them. Cities like Alexandria in Egypt, in Athens, Babylon and Rome had magnificent reservoirs of books. Some of these libraries burned down with a tremendous loss of history and knowledge,. Umberto Ecco in his The Name of the Rose describes such a fire. The word went up in smoke. Books are casualties in wars . How many libraries were destroyed by the saturation bombing of Britain and Germany in W.W.II?

Books have a way of regenerating and I hope so do bookstores. Since the Gutenburg era and into the digital age the written word has proliferated. I see it on my own bookshelves, also in the coffee shops where customers are seen cradling their Kindles.

I comfort myself and my friends that there is a Spirit that proliferates knowledge and stories. Of course they are not all of the same value . Secretly I hope that a book store however small will emerge in the Village.

The Bookstore is Dead: Long Live the Bookstore!

Deirdre Kelly Signing Her New Book “Ballerina: Sex, Scandal, and Suffering Behind the Symbol of Perfection” on Saturday, October 20 from 1:00pm to 3:00pm

Visit the store on Saturday, October 20 and meet Toronto author Deirdre Kelly. She will be here from 1:00pm to 3:00pm signing copies of her new book Ballerina: Sex, Scandal, and Suffering Behind the Symbol of Perfection.

Deirdre is a journalist, author, and internationally recognized dance critic for Dance Magazine, the Dance Gazette, and The Globe and Mail (Toronto), where for sixteen years she was the paper’s dance critic on staff. She is the author of the best-selling memoir Paris Times Eight, and her articles on dance have also appeared in Elle, Vogue, Chatelaine, and Saturday Night.

From the jacket:
“Throughout her history, the ballerina has been perceived as the embodiment of beauty and perfection. She is the feminine ideal – unblemished and ethereal, inspiration incarnate. But the reality is another story.
As Kelly examines the lives of some of the world’s best ballerinas, she argues for a rethinking of the world’s most graceful dance form – a rethinking that would position the ballerina at its heart, where she belongs.”

Kathryn Dawn O’Brien Signs New Mystery “Murder Has A Memory” on Saturday, October 20 from 11:00am to 1:00pm

A new mystery is the perfect thing to curl up with as the fall days get cooler. Mystery author Kathryn Dawn O’Brien will be at Books on Beechwood signing copies of her new Roberta Law mystery Murder Has A Memory.

About the book:
“Hypnotherapist, Roberta Law gets a fast pass to the twilight zone when a ten-year-old client, suffering from acute insomnia, appears to spontaneously regress into a past life and witness her own murder. In order to help her client, Roberta must turn detective and try to solve a crime that may prove to be nothing more than a child’s overactive imagination at work. When the investigation leads her into the reclusive world of retired folk-rock icon, Lori Taylor, whose recent reunion with her long-lost daughter seems to be the source of something much more sinister-Roberta is soon to discover that murder has a memory…”

Come on by, meet the author, buy a book, and get it signed! See you then!

Elizabeth Radmore Signs Cushla: Almost Magic on Saturday, October 13 from 1:00pm to 3:00pm

Come by and meet local author Elizabeth Radmore who will be in the store on Saturday, October 13 from 1:00pm to 3:00pm. She will be signing copies of her new book Cushla: Almost Magic. It is the third book in her Cushla series.

From the jacket:
“Kathleen McKenna couldn’t be happier. Just turned sixteen and her family have made a good life for themselves in Ottawa, anchored by friends, family, school and work. There is no sign of the gypsy girl she had once been in Northern Ireland only a few short years ago. But the arrival of a mysterious package could change all that.
From across the ocean, Nora, the old gypsy woman who had once befriended Kathleen, has bequeathed Kathleen her tarot cards and rune stones. “You will have two loves,” she had once read in those same cards, “The first will disappoint you, but the second…”

We look forward to seeing you all at this great event!