Must Love Books

Let’s face it: you have to really love books to own a bookstore these days.

Blog Photo Fanfare Sign1 by Hamlin Grange

That’s what I say to Bob Newland, owner of Fanfare Books in Stratford, Ontario. 

Blog Photo Fanfare and downtown by Dale Ratcliffe.JPG

Credit: Dale Ratcliffe

Q. Owning a bookstore doesn’t seem like a way to get rich quick. Why do you do it?

A: You are right: money is not the motivator. But the store provides many other satisfactions:
1)The people- I get to hobnob with the most intelligent, erudite and well-read people on the planet.
2)The books- Everyday is Christmas!
3) Sundry satisfactions- While it doesn’t happen as often in reality as it does in The Little Paris Bookshop,  every now and then someone will say that a book that I sold them years ago made a profound change in them. Often a book is a personal thing and it’s nice to think that I have made a difference, however small, in their lives.

Blog Photo Fanfare and Bob by Hamlin Grange

Credit: Hamlin Grange

Blog Photo Fanfare Story Downtown Traffic and Street by Dale

Thousands of people visit Stratford each year. It’s a beautiful city, with nature (including the Avon River) adding its charms.

Blog Photo Stratford River by Dale Ratcliffe

Blog Photo Stratford Swan by Dale Ratcliffe

It’s also home to famous artists, the Stratford Shakespeare Festival and the Stratford Summer Music Festival, and it’s singer Justin Bieber’s hometown.

Blog Photo Stratford and shakespeare by Dale Ratcliffe

4 above photos by Dale Ratcliffe

Q: Who are some of the individual shoppers who have delighted you by coming to your bookstore? 

 A: The most fun story that I have is this:
First Saturday in December is our sale day. We’ve been doing this for thirty years and it is usually the busiest day of the year. A couple of years ago, Colm Feore came in- as he sometimes does- and held half of the substantial crowd in thrall for about half an hour as he described how he grilled a steak. Now THAT`S entertainment!

(Colm Feore is one of the busiest actors in Hollywood, but his home is in Stratford and he’s a beloved star of the Stratford Shakespeare Festival.)

Blog Photo Fanfare and Shoppers by Hamlin Grange

Bob’s mother, a teacher, fostered a love of books. He studied English literature and Bob managed bigger bookstores before buying Fanfare in 1989. 

Fanfare carries books by big-name authors such as Louise Penny, Alice Munro, W.O. Mitchell, Robertson Davies, John Irving, Timothy Findley, Nobel Prize winner Derek Walcott, Alan Bradley and others.

But it also carries books by less well-known authors like me. (Thank you, Bob, and store manager John Woodward.)

Book image An Honest House 1

Blog Photo Fanfare window and Street by Hamlin Grange

Above photos by Hamlin Grange

Q: Why should readers and society in general value bookstores today? 

A: Books are the instruments that produce and preserve culture and civilization.
Okay, it sounds like hyperbole but it’s actually true.

The bookstore is a place of discovery.

It’s where you discover passions that you didn’t know you had.

It’s the place where serendipity happens. Also, taking text out of the equation, a well-made book is an object of beauty in and of itself. I love the look and feel of a book where the designer had the talent, patience, awareness and materials to make something special.

Blog Photo Fanfare address





Filed under A Good Home, Artists, Arts, Authors, Book lovers, Book Stores, Books, Booksellers, Stratford, Ontario

69 responses to “Must Love Books

  1. Laurie Graves

    Sounds like my kind of place! If I ever visit Stratford—and I’d love to come to the Shakespeare festival—then I will stop in. And of course buy a book 😉

    • You’ll love it, Laurie! Great atmosphere! And stop in at Bentley’s for lunch or a pint. Great large pub/restaurant with a small pub atmosphere.

      • Laurie Graves

        I can tell just by looking at your photos that I’d love it. Unlikely I’ll be heading that way anytime soon, but if I do…

  2. How interesting there is a Stratford in Ontario. I’ve only been to the place it was named after and to be honest, I’ve not been to a bookshop there.

    Anyway, I do love bookshops. They have a very s

  3. special atmosphere 😍.

  4. What a beautiful bookstore, Cynthia. I love the wood floors, the brick wall, the heritage architecture; I also love Bob’s motivations for owning the lovely shop.
    Blessings ~ Wendy

  5. Appropriate to have a lover of books in Stratford Ontario! What a wonderful person, place and post!

  6. A beautifully appropriate post for me today. I asked my husband to think of a second item to add to a letter I will show the audience at my talk on Far East POWs on Thursday. He suggested my father’s copy of Racine’s plays (in french), that he had with him in the prison camps and on the railways and is here beside me now. It was one of the things that kept him sane. it’s a little too battered to photograph for a book illustration, but you can still read every word. Books save lives too.

  7. I’d love to own a bookstore. I already feel like I live in one.

  8. What a lovely bookstore. Honestly, I think I could start my own bookstore, Cynthia. 🙂
    I love the photo of the footbridge over the water…it’s so beautiful.

  9. I do love books, wish that one was nearby!

  10. What a fantastic place – thanks for the introduction Cynthia 😀

  11. I so miss independent bookstores. This one sounds lovely, and if I lived in Stratford, I’d be in there often.

  12. Wonderful tribute to Fanfare Books and the man who gifted it to Stratford.I have inherited a few books that belonged to my mother, books she loved, wrote notes in the margins. Books can be a way of keeping in touch with people who are gone.

  13. It sounds like Bob has a passion for books, reading and connecting with his customers. The town and riverside sound wonderful too. 🙂

  14. Love this interview!! When I’m in Stratford (and it is in my “to do” list) I will make Fanfare Books one of my first stops. Thanks for the tip!

  15. This is my kind of book shop! Stratford looks like a lovely place and the riverside seems a good place to take your newly purchased stash of books for a quick read!

  16. Take me there one day, and I’ll be happy. Stratford’s Avon River looks as beautiful as our Avon River. Our independent bookstore, Scorpio Books, is not far from our Avon. Bless the book lovers. 🙂

    • Bless the book lovers indeed. That man in the top photo reminds me of myself. When I get tired of standing, I crouch or sit on the floor.
      I look forward to your visit to Canada one of these days!

  17. This is a lovely place – I can hear the floors creak as people browse the books. A wonderful place that reminds me of one I would frequent in Portland, ME.

  18. I believe a love of books is a great gift so I really enjoyed this piece.

  19. This sounds like a great bookshop. When I was young it was my ambition to have a book shop because I imagined that I would be able to spend all day reading.
    I never realised that you have a Stratford and an Avon in Canada.

  20. There are too few independent bookstores around these days–we need to treasure and support them!

  21. It is sad that so many independent bookstores are gone. My husband is a bibliophile and we visit small shops wherever we go. I know he would love that one.

  22. What a wonderful town, bookstore, and owner! These small independent bookstores are real treasures, and certainly are places of discovery. A beautiful post and tribute to the area, and to Bob Newland.

  23. I love bookstores! This looks such a lovely place 😃

  24. Reblogged this on Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life and commented:
    Cynthia Reyes knows that I would love to morph the virtual cafe and bookstore into the real thing at some point in the future and here is a wonderful interview with the owner of Fanfare Books in Stratford Ontario.. thanks Cynthia.. one step closer.

  25. How terrific that you wrote about a local bookstore and bookseller. We have some little Indie bookstores out our way, too – you can’t beat them. And I loved the mini photo tour of Stratford with the river and swan. Thanks for showcasing a side of life we all love.

  26. Years ago now, when I was living in New York City, I planned a vacation especially to experience the Stratford Shakespeare Festival season. It was every bit as wonderful as I expected – and Stratford was a beautiful place to visit.

    We stayed in a charming bed and breakfast, rented a boat to spend the afternoon on the river, visited a darling pub – but we missed Fanfare Books. If I am ever lucky enough to be able to return, I won’t miss it again. (Justin Bieber’s childhood home won’t be on my list, however – never caught that particular fever.)
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMore dot com)
    – ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder –
    “It takes a village to educate a world!”

    • I’m glad you visited and had a great time, Madelyn. It’s still a beautiful place, perhaps even more so now .

      • I’m have no doubt that it is. It is actually on my list of potential candidates for a major relocation within two years. Since I work virtually, I’m not limited to America.

        There is much about Canada that has always appealed to me – and I prefer cooler weather. Perhaps we’ll be neighbors some day.

  27. Great interview. So glad there to read about another quality independent book store.

  28. A most interesting bookshop, and lovely to see your books there, Cynthia. Such a charming place and great pics! I would certainly like to visit and have a browse through! Thanks for the post. 🙂

  29. So quaint and charming looking. And what a beautiful thing to open this bookstore, It is the perfect location it seems. And congrats on your books living there too. 🙂

  30. Kev

    I couldn’t agree more, Cynthia! …Love seeing your books there! 🙂

  31. It looks like a beautiful place. I could be happy there. Snuggled up by a bookshelf is always a good place to be. 🙂

  32. I love bookshops and bookstores. And the place looks amazing too. I’m adding it to my list of places to visit in the future. Many thanks!

  33. Something about book stores makes my heart race. I can walk through and look at books all day long!! Beautiful pictures and very interesting interview!

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