Books .. Ahhhhhh yes. Books.

No vacation, holiday or, indeed, life is complete without books … and a good powerful load of them at that. I am ridiculously addicted to books, and apparently am raising three like-minded children.. particularly the eldest.

So maybe you’re visiting this spectacular little area of Nova Scotia’s Bluenose Coast/Lighthouse Route and it’s a stunning day … the sun is shining so brightly it looks like we’ve paved our streets with diamonds, the ocean is sparkling like the stars at night (speaking of the night sky, have you seen the night sky here? Try it .. okay not just here, anywhere away from the city. In a word? Remarkable.) .. so, right. You’ve got the picture forming in your head. Lunenburg Town is wonderful .. everything you imagined and so much more, and you just wish you could just let it all absorb into your soul for a little bit … so that, mid-winter, you can open yourself up and relive the experience and escape the cold/snow/rain/whatever. What better way to do this than to walk up UNESCO Fresco (the banks are lined up on your right, and an array of beautifully coloured restaurants, shops and accommodations are on your left) until you get to the War Memorial. Pay your respects and then head off to your right past the bandstand. If you’re lucky, there’s live music, but if not ahhhhh .. a piece of heaven. Lay down on the grassy hill overlooking the busy-ness of town and read. What do you call a good read? There’s so much. At the moment I’m particularly enthralled with Nancy Farmer’s Sea of Trolls (ha – play on words there … en-thralled .. ha) – magical books, they are.

But what for the people who haven’t a book with them? I have an answer to that question, I do. Stand up, stretch your legs… your arms.. your back … deep breath in of fresh sea air, and then head back down the street you just walked up (it’s quite short, don’t worry). Turn left at the bottom, onto Montague Street, and just a few doors down you’ll find one of the most remarkable books shops you’ll ever be likely to find. Mixed in with all these modern, fancy schmancy, designed-to-attract-tourists shops is Elizabeth’s Books. It’s a small and unassuming shop run by Chris, who is always happy to have a chat. Don’t bother heading there in the morning, though – he’s an afternoon & evening sort of man and so is his shop. Romantically, he named the shop for his wife. I love that he did that. It’s … I don’t know.

When you walk into his shop it feels something like taking a step back into history. New books are there, yes. But the second hand books are all there, whispering to each other about the places they’ve been .. the people’s hands who have turned their pages. The shop is never completely quiet. Not that it’s noisy, because it simply isn’t. It’s just alive. And if you are overwhelmed at the sheer number of books you needn’t waste one bit of energy worrying about it. You simply walk up to Chris and say “I would like to have a book about [please insert subject]” and he’ll say “Oh yes, of course.” and get it. He knows where everything is, and he can probably tell you the books story too …. and by that I don’t mean the storyline, I mean the where and when and why: How that book ended up in his shop. I love visiting Chris and so do my kids. It feels like entering a magical place … there was only one time he didn’t have the specific book I wanted, and within a few days he had found it for me. Incredible. The first time I went he was so genuinely pleased to meet me, and the second time he remembered my name (something I find mind-boggling because I have such a hard time remembering names).

Right. So, suffice to say, if you are in Lunenburg .. or Mahone Bay .. or anywhere in Nova Scotia for that matter, and you like/love books of any sort, a trip to Elizabeth’s Books is ……. well, it isn’t really a suggestion .. not even a recommendation .. it’s quite simply a necessity. You can’t miss it.

The smallest bookstore still contains more ideas of worth than have been presented in the entire history of television. ~Andrew Ross

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