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A tale of two cities The City & The City Books combines new and used books to suit the everyday reader

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Photo by Cindy Cui / Photo Editor

Floating in the window of an Ottawa Street storefront is a crocheted pool float in the shape of a pink flamingo. The sign at the top of the store reads “The City & The City Books”(181 Ottawa St. North). Owned by Janet Hoy and Tim Hanna, this independent bookstore opened last spring.

The store is located right next to Cannon Coffee Co., so if you like to study in coffee shops, then just a quick trip from Cannon will let you pick up a book and support this local business. 

The City & The City Books gets its name from the 2009 book by author China Miéville. 

“[Miéville] writes what’s called the new weird. He defies genre. If you go into a bookshop all of his books could be in a different section. They could be in literature, they could be in science fiction, they could even be in mystery,” said Hanna, “Something we’re interested in is books that defy genre, or not having genre. I always say to people: in an ideal bookshop there wouldn’t be a literature or science fiction section, there would just be stories.

This is clearly evident in the store. The book sections intermingle together. Philosophy and literature rub elbows with science fiction and mystery. New books are located on white shelves at the front and used books on black shelves at the back, making it easy to navigate between the two. Hoy points out that one of the benefits of offering used books is the affordability. 

“It’s great seeing someone get excited because they just found War and Peace for $5,” said Hoy.

Hoy jokes that she does have one regret about the name of the store. 

“Writing an ampersand is hard,” she said. 

Hoy and Hanna are hoping that the store can help make buying school books easier for students. 

“When you get your syllabus for the beginning of the year and the list of books that you need, if we know what people are looking for we’ll be out looking for it,” said Hoy.

Come the winter semester, if you’re struggling to afford textbooks, it’s definitely worth a look to see if The City & The City Books has what you’re looking for. Hanna emphasized that, for students, they were going to try and have everything possible from spirituality to philosophy and political science. 

The store isn’t limited to just books. There are eclectic socks, cards and most importantly, cat tarot decks. That alone is worth the trip down to Ottawa Street. Not to mention, Ottawa Street has art galleries, a board game cafe, thrift stores and restaurants. If you’re planning a day trip out with your friends, it’s a must-try hotspot. While you’re there, stop by The City & The City Books to have a look around to see where the words can take you.

 

 

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Author: Lauren O'Donnell

Lauren is in her fourth and final year of English and Cultural Studies. She is a big fan of sustainable fashion, body positivity, and 80s pop music. In her spare time, Lauren can be found hanging out with her cat, Lyric.