Welcome to My Virtual Bookstore!

During the 80s I worked in a Calgary bookstore that didn’t really “do” the Christmas thing. We sold philosophy (Eastern and Western), books on math and physics, Eastern religions, stacks of the I Ching (the Princeton University Press grey-dustjacket hardcover edition), books for gays and lesbians (looong before anyone else had “gender” sections, when stores were still being “busted” for carrying so-called “obscene” literature – for instance, we sold many, many copies of Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City series), armchair travel rather than travel guides, only vegetarian and macrobiotic cooking in the cookbook section, none of the big bestsellers or even books for children. But we did stock new age and progressive music … on vinyl. The fiction section was one long wall, packed, floor to ceiling, with a ladder to access the nether regions. That section wasn’t divided into genre or nationality either, but was alphabetized according to authors’ last names. So, Canadian authors all lumped in with everyone else. And we had everything that was really good, published in English – except, as I said, the bestsellers.



What I loved about this place at Christmas time, besides the lack of hype and frenzy surrounding buying (and the store trying to make a buck out of the season) was our customers. They were a loyal bunch we usually saw at least once a week anyway throughout the rest of the year, people who were serious readers, many of them authors, as well, who read to live and lived to read. Some of them are still my friends, online at least, and I continue to promote their writing. These were people who would buy a couple of cups of coffee at Bagels and Buns across the street and come in to chat with us about the latest books in whichever area they were interested, or talk about their own writing, or just sit in one of the big upholstered chairs in the window with a cat (either Watson or Salinger) on their lap.



I’m always reminded of this store every Christmas when I hear of people essentially freaking out over having to buy gifts for everyone on their lists. At that store, the week before Christmas Day, one particular customer would walk in, stop in front of the sales desk, slap his hands together and say, “There! I’ve finished shopping for everyone else – now it’s time to shop for ME!”


So, in this spirit, for those of you who are ready to buy a special gift for yourselves – and because I now no longer work in a physical bookstore – I am happy to present to you a virtual selection of books and authors for you to gift yourselves this year.

This virtual bookstore even boasts resident cats, one of them a thoroughly serious critic who eviscerates whatever she doesn’t like …


Here are my Reading Recommendations Authors – more than 250 of them – to choose from. Enjoy!! (And just like the fiction section in that old bookstore, these Authors are from all around the world! But unlike the store, there are a few Authors who write books for children among them, as well, and you may order most of these books in either digital format or print!)

Authors Promoted – alphabetical listing (A-L)

Authors Promoted – alphabetical listing (M-Z)

While you’re “browsing” you may wish to listen to some of the more popular music we sold in the store: Windham Hill albums … George Winston’s December and anything by Liz Story.
Penguin Cafe – their first album, Music From the Penguin Cafe and one of my favourite songs, The Ecstasy of Dancing Fleas.

32 responses

  1. Nothing was more fun than a local book store. Workers and regular visitors were so much like a family. (Windham Hill! Great music)
    Wonderful post. Clever idea. And fits perfectly with the technology era – and a new year.

  2. My daughter had a job in my favorite bookstore in Burbank, CA as a teenager. It was called the Psychic Eye. Here in Portland we go to the New Renaissance bookstore which is on the same vein. It’s our favorite. I have so many books to read now, I’m not sure I’ll get them all read in this lifetime but I can’t resist another good book so the pile continues to grow. Thanks for the lists.

    1. There is no such thing as having too many books to read! Thanks for reading my blog post, for commenting and sharing your own memories!

  3. I should have known you were a Windham Hill lover! I still pull out my George Winstons at Xmas time — even “Summer,” which is seasonally evocative whatever the weather. I’m transported through time by any Michael Hedges tune. But strangely, that music goes really well with books. I don’t know why, but it does.

    Thanks for the memories! PS — I saw Winston in concert once, and Liz Story once. Magic!

    1. I’m beginning to think we may be siblings by another father and mother … Thanks for enjoying my memories by adding some of your own!

    1. Thanks for reblogging, Judith!

  4. Thank you, Susan, for including me in this elite group of authors. Your kind support is appreciated. Xo

  5. Great list of authors. I’ve read books by quite a few of them. Thanks for the lists. Love the idea of your virtual bookstore with a cat!

    1. Thanks, macjam47! I hope you enjoy “browsing”!

  6. Reblogged this on Poetry by Pamela and commented:
    I just got a job for a great virtual bookseller. Check out all these great authors and books. Who knows, you might even see my name on the list 😉

    1. Thanks for reblogging, Pamela!

  7. Reblogged this on Reading Recommendations and commented:

    Pssst! Readers and Authors – would you like a virtual job in my virtual bookstore? The pay is lousy, I’m afraid, as you’ll be making the same amount I make from this enterprise, which is $0, but you’ll be performing a good deed by spreading the word about a list of more than 250 Authors I’m offering to everyone in the world to consider checking out – Authors who have written many, many books that deserve attention from Readers everywhere! So, if you’re interested in being a “clerk” please share, retweet, comment on, and generally let everyone know that my Virtual Bookstore, Reading Recommendations, is open for the business of recommending GREAT books! Authors, please do share your own links, but remember that your fans who have already read your books will appreciate discovering more to read, so do share other links as well.

    Trust me … not only will you virtual clerks be helping to spread the word about this virtual bookstore and the selection of books, both print and digital, on its shelves, but you’ll also get a warm and fuzzy glow inside by helping me to promote GREAT Authors and their books, and promoting reading in general! And this bookstore will continue to remain open 24/7, 365 days of the year … long after any holidays or gift-giving time has passed.

  8. Reblogged this on Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life and commented:
    Head over to a new virtual bookstore with proprietor Susan Toy.. Delighted and honoured to have my work on the shelves along with 250 other books. Wow.. head over for a browse.. thanks Susan.

    1. Thanks for reblogging, Sally, and for being part of the “selection”!

  9. Reblogged this on lightningbooksbyagmoye and commented:
    Nice way to spark interest in books. Merry Christmas to all.

  10. This is the way I like to see books promoted with a little story to go with it about the past that is gone and may never return. A.G.

    1. Thank you, A.G.! And thanks for reblogging!

  11. I think I remember that book store. I loved wandering along 17th Avenue in those days. (lived in Calgary 1983 – 1989) Thanks for including me in your virtual books store. Have a wonderful Christmas Susan!!

    1. Thanks, Darlene! Perhaps I sold books to you then, either at Book n Books or Sandpiper around the corner … And now our paths cross again so many years later!

      1. I definitely bought books at Sandpiper. It is indeed a small world and getting smaller all the time!

  12. Reblogged this on Authors to Watch and commented:
    Looking for a holiday read? Check out Susan Toy’s Virtual Bookstore. It’s filled with books that have been previously featured on Reading Recommendations.

  13. Alandcristy@telus.net

    Happy Holidays, Susan! What a great post! My mom and dad are always easy to buy for… Books, books and more books! Too funny about the cat named Watson! I lived in Calgary until 1977 then moved to Comox and then returned for university in 1982. Lived there until the mid 90’s. I don’t see the name of the bookstore, so I am trying to guess where it is? Anyway, thanks for the post, the reminders of great gift ideas, and the PR! I’m of to share this….All the best for 2016!!! cristy

    1. Thanks, Cristy! So our paths did cross, perhaps, in Calgary, long before Coffee Shop Author … That was Books n Books on 17th Ave. at 7th SW. There were a few different owners after I worked there, but it closed down during the late 90s, I think, after I had left Calgary. The space is now a clothing boutique.

  14. I have fond memories of Books and Books… and the vegetarian restaurant (Soup Kitchen?) next door.

    1. Yes, it was the Soup Kitchen! The reason why the bookstore always had that homey smell of hot soup and freshly baked bread. I still love making the Cauliflower Cheese Soup the chef served on a regular basis.

  15. Reblogged this on Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog and commented:
    Why not check if your favourite authors, or new ‘soon to be favourite’ authors are in Susan’s virtual bookstore 😀

    1. Thanks for reblogging, Chris!

%d bloggers like this: