Yesterday, I took some books to BMV, the thriving second-hand bookstore chain in Toronto. 

I didn’t want to burden myself too much, so I only took as much as I could get into a knapsack.

My titles were as follows:


Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie (the latest movie tie-in edition)

The Secret Agent by Joseph Conrad

A Swiftly Tilting Planet by Madeleine L’Engle

The Left Hand of Darkness By Ursula K. LeGuin

Young Renny by Mazo De LaRoche

Stories by Reynolds Price

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

Practical Jean by Trevor Cole

If Morning Ever Comes by Anne Tyler

The History of Emily Montague by Frances Brook


Mount Pleasant by Don Gillmor

Two CDs:

The Madmen Soundtrack

1959 Greatest Hits

The first store took only the Christie. Said he’d give me $3.00 for the whole collection, or I can just leave the Orient Express. I was surprised the two First Editions (the Cole and the Gillmor) didn’t entice. I left the locomotive murder mystery, and boarded the city underground locomotive to try my luck at the next store.

The next one took a careful look at the collection and rejected all of them. Even the signed First Editions?

“If they’re a big name, maybe.”  First Editions didn’t matter here as much as with book collectors. These stores are trying to move product, and mine would only move in my knapsack out the door.

The chain had one more location. There is something slightly intimate about leaving your well-worn books to be perused and judged by the second-hand bookseller. It feels like taking my clothes off at the doctor’s office. I turned my back as he inspected each item. I perused books on the table nearby, books someone else had brought in for judgement.

“$5.00 for just these.”  He judiciously separated the chosen from the rejected.

He took the L’Engle, the Conrad, and the Price. Maybe more? Why can’t I recall the titles of the others he took? I guess they weren’t that important to me. Which is why they  ended up in a used bookstore. Before ending up in someone else’s home, I hope.

Actually, I didn’t care. I kind of wished I’d left the lot at the first store, for $3, rather than having to lug them around.

Near the last location is one of those Little Free Libraries that have sprouted up- they look like birdhouses from a distance, but contain books, not birds. I dropped off the Tyler and the De la Roche. And the CDs (which may not play after being out in the frigid cold).

I trudged home the Austen, Cole, Le Guin, Brooke, and Gillmor.

I will say one thing for all three stores. Genuinely polite. The Used Bookstore of yore was often overseen by a curmudgeon, who made you feel they were doing you a favour to even deign to look at your precious cargo.

All in all, a pleasant venture. Made $8. More to the point, I culled my collection a bit.

I didn’t buy anything, or trade one title for another.

I’ll be back.


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