10 things I Love about Munro’s Books

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1. It’s in Victoria

Munro's Books

2. It’s 52 years old. That means Munro’s has survived Amazon, consolidation and e-books.

Munros books interior

3. Carole Sabiston’s tapestries. Eight large banners depict the seasons and decorate the interior of Munro’s. Carole is an incredibly accomplished textile artist. Her commissions include the giant Sunburst for the Expo ’86 opening ceremony in Vancouver and the five-panel work of mountains and oceans at Government House.

Carole in her home studio. Eve Lazarus photo, Sensational Victoria 2012
Carole in her home studio. Eve Lazarus photo, Sensational Victoria 2012

4. Its connection to Alice Munro. Nobel prize winner and one of my literary heroes co-founded the original Munro’s Books in 1964.

Alice Munro, 2013. Photo courtesy the Telegraph
Alice Munro, 2013. Photo courtesy the Telegraph

5. Jim Munro. Not only does Jim have great taste in wives (Alice Munro and Carole Sabiston), when he retired in 2014 he handed over the store and inventory to four long-time staffers (they pay him rent).

Jim Munro, September 2013, Times Colonist photo
Jim Munro, September 2013, Times Colonist photo

6. The Staff. They understand books, customers and needy authors and are amazingly knowledgeable. They also stage events, book launches and readings.

Munros event

7. The Books. There are roughly 30,000 in the inventory and a huge children’s section. Just try to leave without buying several books, it’s physically impossible.

Sheryl McFarlane, Eve Lazarus and Kit Pearson at an Author's Night in December 2012
Sheryl McFarlane, Eve Lazarus and Kit Pearson at an Author’s Night in December 2012

8. Local Interest Section. It’s huge, it’s right up the front, and it’s all about B.C. authors.

Jim Munro and Carole Sabiston's Rockland heritage home. Eve Lazarus photo, Sensational Victoria, 2012
Jim Munro and Carole Sabiston’s Rockland heritage home. Eve Lazarus photo, Sensational Victoria, 2012

9. Jim Munro. Not only does he love books, he also loves heritage buildings. He and Carole still live in the 1894 Rockland Avenue house that he bought with Alice in 1966. He bought the former bank building that houses Munro’s in 1984 and restored it. Now it’s a tourist attraction.

Christina Haas had Thomas Hooper design a brothel on Cook Street in 1913. Eve Lazarus photo from Sensational Victoria
Christina Haas had Thomas Hooper design a brothel on Cook Street in 1913. Eve Lazarus photo from Sensational Victoria

10. The building. Originally designed for the Royal Bank of Canada in 1909, it’s a gorgeous neo-classical building with marble and hardwood floors and sweeping 24-foot-high ceilings. It was designed by architect Thomas Hooper who also designed the Roger’s Building, Hycroft (Shaughnessy) and Christina Haas’s Cook Street brothel.

For more about Munro’s Books, Jim Munro, Carole Sabiston, Alice Munro and Victoria grab a copy of Sensational Victoria: bright lights, red lights, murders, ghosts and gardens.

Sensational Victoria large

Bookstores all over Canada are hosting Authors for Indies tomorrow. For a full listing of participating stores in B.C. see Authors for Indies

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4 comments

  1. Could I add an eleventh, Eve? The remainder tables. Someone takes great care with them. They are the first thing I head for whenever I visit the store and I never fail to find several titles of interest, at incredible prices.

  2. Great posting, Eve. I feel as if I am back in the store, appreciating the wide selection of books and the remarkable staff at Munro’s. Great to see you at the Gala!

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