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

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

 

 

A Good Home, Book Stores, Friendship, Galilee, Great Prices on Books, Kindness, Kitchens, Landscape Art, Nature, Uncategorized, Valentine's Day, Words

Colin and Justin in Cottage Country

Cottage country will never be the same.

Those talented, funny and likable designers – Colin McAllister and Justin Ryan  (the duo who gave my book such a good review last fall) – have bought into the Canadian dream: owning a cottage.   It’s on a lake in Muskoka, three hours north of Toronto, and every time I look at the photo below, I burst out laughing.

Blog Photo - Colin and Justin in the WoodsColin and Justin, “Cabin Pressure”, Cottage Life TV

As usual, they’ve gone whole hog.  No modern Muskoka Mansion for these two.  They’ve bought the quintessential Canadian pioneer dwelling:  a log cabin.

A log cabin, you might ask? Are we talking about the same Colin and Justin? The famously jet-setting designers known for creating glamorous interiors and sporting oversized flowers in their lapels on their previous TV series, Colin and Justin’s Home Heist?

Blog Photo - Colin and Justin Design

Yes.   They co-purchased the log house with two friends.  And they’ve made a TV show about their adventures, called “Cabin Pressure”, (Tuesday nights in Canada on Cottage Life TV).

Of course, no matter where they go, they’re still Colin and Justin, after all.   The same witty Scottish-accented pair who live in Scotland, England and Canada and make us laugh while sharing their clever design skills.

So, as they told the Canadian Press:  “I think we scared the living bejesus out of a lot of people. Because we arrived in fake-fur, floor-length coats and trailed around the lake in the middle of summer like the Kardashians on crack.”

Oh, dear.

Colin and Justin Cabin Pressure
“Cabin Pressure”

But if there’s one thing I know about these two, it’s that they’re very talented. And another: they’re smart.  They’re also very knowledgeable about the deep feelings people have for their homes. (See Colin and Justin’s review of my book, A Good Home.)

So what can we expect? You’ll have to watch the series to find out.  But I’m betting you’ll learn a few things about log homes, cottage life, and a lot about interior design. After all, many of us would find decorating a log home very challenging.  As did Colin and Justin.

They visited a dozen cottages before settling on this one.  It passed inspection.  But when the renovation was starting, they encountered a rotting deck, dangerous wiring, and several other problems.  Their new purchase seemed to be “a pig in lipstick”.

Still, they describe the experience as “brilliant. It’s made us better people.  We’ve learned such a lot about ourselves.”

Cabin Pressure on Cottage Life TV
“Cabin Pressure” on Cottage Life TV

So cottage country may never be the same, but it appears that our famous designer duo will never be quite the same, either.

Get ready for a new take on “Canadiana” – Colin and Justin style.

Book Stores

Fanfare Books, Stratford

Stratford, Ontario is known for  great theatre: the world-famous Stratford Festival; great music: the Stratford Summer Music festival;  a celebrity singer with a great fan base: Justin Bieber.  It’s also loved for its beautiful Avon river (complete with swans), many gorgeous gardens and neighborhoods, its restaurants and stores, and a grand main street.

stratford_adfinal

And it’s known for Fanfare Books, a fabulously ‘bookish’ bookstore that somehow feels just right for Stratford’s downtown.

Fanfare Books

For years, my family and friends have made a point of visiting Fanfare to pick up a favorite book or two while in Stratford visiting our friends. And now I am proud to say that Fanfare Books was the very first bookstore in Canada to stock my new book A Good Home .  My great thanks to Bob and John at Fanfare for enthusiastically agreeing to sell my book, and for recommending it to readers. On your next trip to Stratford, do check out Fanfare Books, and say hello to John and Bob while browsing the many great titles on sale.

Photo Credit: Janet Hill
Photo Credit: Janet Hill

Check out more photos of Fanfare here