Best Sellers in November

1.  Shopping for Votes                         Susan Delacourt                               Politics 

2.  Welcome to the Broadcast          Don Newman                                    Biography

3.  Svend Robinson: A life in..           Graeme Truelove                            Biography

4. Road Ends                                          Mary Lawson                                    Fiction

5.  Humanity’s Saving Grace              Alex Binkley                                       Sci-Fi

6.  The War that ended the Peace  Margaret MacMillan                       History                 

7.  How we lead: Canada in a…          Joe Clark                                              Politics

8.  The Longer I’m Prime Minister..              Paul Wells                               Biography

9.  Dear Life                                              Alice Monro                                       Fiction

10. Troubled Pilgrimage: Passage..  Balwant Bhanega                             Biography

11. The Luminaries                                 Eleanor Catton                                  Fiction

12. The Orenda                                        Joseph Bryden                                  Fiction

13. A Message for the Emperor          Mark Frutkin                                      Fiction

14. The Forgotten                                   Nathan Greenfield                          History

15. A Crack in the Pavement              Georgie Binks                                    Fiction

16. Hellgoing: Stories                             Lynn Coady                                       Fiction

17. The Massey Murder                       Charlotte Gray                                  Fiction

18. An Astronauts guide to..               Chris Hadfield                                    Biography

19. More than Cash Flow                     Julie Broad                                          Economy







November Newsletter

We’re all set for the pre-Christmas rush with over 6000 books in stock and more on the way. Come in and take a look and maybe you’ll find that perfect gift, possibly even for yourself! You can also browse on our e-store website and order other books from our suppliers. There is now a search station in the store too. We have new electronic gift cards which can be purchased at the store or on-line. To cope with the rush, we’ve added another staff member, Stephanie, who has a lot of bookstore experience.

In November and December we have many special events –book signings and book readings. It’s always interesting to meet the authors. We’ve added a calendar page to the website so that you can see all the events well in advance. Our Books and Brew series has been an outstanding success so far with sold-out sessions in many cases. The series is held at the Clocktower Pub next door. You can buy the books at a discount and there is a discount (15%) on dinner if you also buy one of the Clocktower brews. Early reservations are recommended. In December, the series switches to Sunday nights with dinner suggested for 5.30p.m. The December schedule is

Dec. 1                    Denise Chong                    “Lives of the Family”

Dec 8                     Mark Abley                         “Conversations with a Dead Man”

Dec 15                   Robert Sibley                     “The way of the 88 Temples”

A new series will begin in January.

We have just posted our 20 best sellers for the month of October (see the posting below)– headed by Charlotte Gray’s “The Massey Murder” for the second month in a row.  Once again history and biography dominate the list but there are a few surprises too. This month we might expect Lynn Coady’s Giller Prize winner “Hellgoing” to head the list.

Drop in for a visit and enjoy the friendly neighbourhood atmosphere of Books on Beechwood. Please note that we are open on November 11th but only after 1.00p.m.

Our Bestsellers for October

  1. The Massey Murder                         Charlotte Gray                                   History
  2. The Library Tree                               Deborah Cowley                              Biography
  3. Dear Life                                            Alice Monro                                      Fiction
  4. The Forgotten                                   Nathan Greenfield                            History
  5. Shopping for Votes                           Susan Delacourt                               Politics
  6. The House of Hades                        Rick Riordan                                       Youth/Fantasy
  7. The Inconvenient Indian                 Thomas King                                      History
  8. However Long the Night                  Aimee Molloy                                    Biography
  9. The War that Ended the Peace     Margaret MacMillan                             History
  10. Stories about Storytellers             Douglas Gibson/Alice Monro               Biography
  11. The Orenda                                        Joseph Bryden                                  Fiction
  12. Memoirs of Mourning                   Claudia Chowiniec                               Biography
  13. The Whispers of Legends             Barbara Fradkin                                   Fiction
  14. Is This your First War?                    Michael Petrou                                  History
  15. Fire and Ashes                                  Michael Ignatieff                              Politics
  16. Food for the Gods                           Karen Dudley                                      Fiction
  17. Jack and the Manger                      Andy Jones                                          Kids
  18. Mrs Lincoln’s Dressmaker            Jennifer Chaverini                                 Fiction
  19. What W.H.Auden can do for you Alexander McCall Smith                       Literary
  20. The Love Monster                           Missy Marston                                     Fiction


New Staff Member

We welcome a new staff member -Stephanie Caldicott- to help us with the fall surge in business. Stephanie has lots of bookstore experience. She began her career with Books Canada and then worked for Ivy’s Bookstore in Victoria for 10 years before returning to Ottawa and spending 13 years at Nicholas Hoare Books. We all look forward to working with her.

Our Bestsellers in September

1.”The Dogs are Eating Them now” by Graeme Smith        History

2. “The Massey Murder” by Charlotte Gray                         History

3.”The Orenda” by Joseph Boyden                                       Fiction

4. “The Inconvenient Indian” by Thomas King                    History

5. “How the Light gets in” by Louise Penny                          Fiction

6. “Fire and Ashes” by Michael Ignatieff                              Politics

7. “The Painted Girls” by Cathy Marie Buchanan                Fiction

8. ” My Antonia” by Willa Cather                                          Classic

9. “The Yellow Birds” by Kevin Powers                                 Fiction

10. “The Racketeer” by John Grisham                                   Fiction

11. “The Son of a Certain Woman” by Wayne Johnston       Fiction

12. “Children of the Revolution” by Peter Robinson            Fiction

13. “And then there were Nuns” by Jane Christmas            Travel

14. “At the Table:Nourishing Conv..” by T. Keenleyside      Cookery

15. “”The Cookbook” by Ottolenghi                                        Cookery


October Newsletter

The fall brings a flurry of activity at the store in preparation for the November/December peak in sales. We are busy bringing in new stock and adding to our collection. Books make an ideal choice as a Christmas gift that can be adapted to the recipient’s interests. If you can’t quite decide what to get, gift cards are always welcome. The store is about to introduce new customized electronic gift cards which will be more convenient for the customer. Just ask at the counter.

The staff are always willing to help you search for books and ready to put their vast knowledge at your service. However, for those who prefer to search or just browse by themselves, we’ve added a search computer at the rear of the store. There you can search our stock on-line and search the stock of our major suppliers. You can also order books on-line if you wish. The same search facility can be accessed at home by going to

Fall and winter activities are off to a good start. Our book club was so successful last year that we’ve expanded to two clubs this year (but discussing a common set of books). You’re welcome to join the new club on the second Wednesday of each month. (see the Book Club page for details).

A major new adventure for us is the Books and Brew Series put on in collaboration with the Clocktower pub next door. This involves dinner at the pub combined with readings or presentations by selected authors and a question and answer session. The series debuted with a sell-out crowd to hear the ever popular Charlotte Gray talking about her new book (The Massey Murder). It was a very successful. It’s interesting to see “reading” becoming such a social event. Future Books and Brew nights are planned as follows:

Monday October 28; Nathan Greenfield with “The Forgotten: Canadian POWs, Escapees and Evaders in Europe 1939-1945

Monday November 11: Don Newman with his memoir “Welcome to the Broadcast”

Monday November 25: Mary Lawson with her new novel “Road Ends”

In December, the nights switch to Sundays including

Sunday December 1: Denise Chong with “Lives of the Family”

Sunday December 15: Robert Sibley with “The Way of the 88 Temples”

Come and join us! Proceedings begin with dinner at 6.00 p.m. Reservations with the Clocktower pub will be necessary most nights. Some special discounts apply.

As usual, we have many book signings planned within the store during the coming months. These often feature local authors. Watch our events page for details.

We look forward to serving you whatever your interests.

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!

New Canadiana Sale Books! Great Books for Great Prices!

Jean’s been cleaning out her bookshelves and is selling off some great Canadian novels at fantastic prices – $5.00 each! Is there a Margaret Atwood book that you never got around to reading? Are you trying to brush up on your Michael Ondaatje? Maybe you’re looking for a great Canadian biography by Charlotte Gray, or some fantastic fiction by Timothy Findley or Elizabeth Hay. No matter what Canadian author floats your boat, you’re bound to find something good on Jean’s bookshelves!