There’s no shortage of things to do in Montreal. The city is famous for its French culture, gorgeous architecture, and delicious food. You may spend the day wandering the city, visiting places like Mont Royal Park and Basilique Notre Dame, or maybe you’re indulging in one of the many famous food tours. Perhaps you’re a book lover and are looking for somewhere to stop off and pick up a novel or two.
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I wanted to share some of my favourite indie bookstores in the city. There’s something for everyone on this list, with stores stocking niche and nerdy sci-fi, rare and collectable books to others filled with event offerings and book clubs. Instead of visiting the big box retailers in the city, consider stopping by one of these independent stores, where you might find something you weren’t expecting.
Opened in 2008, Drawn & Quarterly is a contemporary neighbourhood bookstore specializing in English books and graphic novels. In 2017, they opened La Petite Librairie Drawn & Quarterly, Montreal’s only standalone kids bookstore which also transforms into an event space in the evenings to house a range of literary book launches and book clubs.
Drawn & Quarterly is known as Montreal’s literary hub for all genres and ages, carrying everything from fiction and nonfiction to graphic novels and cookbooks. They host a range of events that can be found on their website.
Librairie Saint-Henri is an absolute must visit indie bookstore located in the heart of Montreal’s Saint Henri neighbourhood. They carry an eclectic mix of English and French titles, curated by manager Alex Nierenhausen, who has been an integral part of the business since day one. This gorgeous little bookstore houses more than 3,000 books with everything from the latest bestsellers, classics, modern fiction, fantasy, and children’s books.
Saint-Henri also sells a selection of greeting cards, art prints, and tote bags featuring local artists. They also host an awesome book club led by Alex. I highly recommend checking out his picks on their online store since he’s an avid reader across all genres, and has the best recommendations.
Located on the west side of Boulevard Saint-Laurent, between Pine and Arthur streets, Librairie Gallimard opened its doors in November of 1989. They’re best known for housing the works of French and Quebecois authors.
Much more than a bookstore, Gallimard is also a publishing house, known under the name Éditions Gallimard which was founded over one hundred years ago, in 1911. Over the years, they’ve built an jaw-dropping and impressive catalogue of more than 40,000 titles, bringing them to the forefront as one of North America’s most important booksellers.
Founded by Adrian King-Edwards and Lucille Friesen in 1975, The Word has become a citywide institution, frequently ranking as the number one secondhand bookstore in Montreal Mirror’s annual Best of Montreal list.
The shelves here are overflowing with hundreds of books from floor to ceiling on every wall, so you might need to bring a suitcase for this trip since there is just so much on offer. They also have a fantastic rare and collectables section in the store, housing first edition copies that are over one hundred years old. The Word is truly a book lover’s paradise.
Food lovers rejoice! Appetite for Books is a great store for all things food related. They have a huge range of cookbooks, everything from the latest bestsellers, to specialty books on bread and baking. I love the food writing and nonfiction selection at Appetite for Books and highly recommend checking out Eat a Peach by David Chang, and Dirt by Bill Bulford – two of my absolute favourite food memoirs.
Appetite for Books also hosts cooking classes, led by owner and chef, Jonathan Cheung.
Located in the Shaughnessy Village, Argo Bookshop is the oldest English-language indie bookstore in Montreal. The store offers a finely curated selection of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, sci-fi, and biography. They specialize in books on linguistics, as well as books on minority groups and authors.
If you’re looking for a place to chill with your latest novel, Argo has you covered with an awesome lounge space for readers to come, read, and relax. There’s also no shortage of events at Argo, so keep an eye on their website to see what’s coming up.
Saga Bookstore was founded by Ilya Razykov and Mathieu Lauzon-Dicso, who decided to open the store right in the midst of the pandemic. Maybe not the smartest idea, but the two founders saw an opportunity in that they decided to offer shipping through their online store, and actually delivered the books themselves, giving them a chance to meet and build relationships with their customers.
This place is awesome if you’re into science fiction or horror. They also house a wide range of speculative fiction, nonfiction, young adult and children’s books.
A specialty cookbook store located in the Marché Jean-Talon area, Librairie Gourmande was founded by Ann Fortin in 2004. This place houses an impressive collection of cookbooks, for beginners and experts, in French and English.
Librairie Gourmande features books specializing in haute cuisine and is also known for highlighting books by local and international chefs. If you’re a food lover, want to learn how to cook, or are hoping to pick up some extra skills in the kitchen, this place is a must.
Bibliophile is an indie English bookshop that has been in business for almost forty years. They carry a range of fiction, nonfiction, children’s books and cookbooks. Bibliophile has a fun loyalty program called The Baker’s Dozen Book Club – purchase twelve books, and the average price of those will be credited toward your thirteenth.
They also have a Grandparent Club, where grandparents can sign up and Bibliophile will send the grandkids a new book every month. Check out owner Sandra’s selects for some fantastic book recommendations.
Bertrand Bookstore opened its doors in 1952 and has been supplying the city’s residents with books ever since. This store carries a large selection of titles in French and English, with subjects ranging from Art to Zoology.
The staff at Bertrand are incredibly knowledgeable when it comes to books, so you can definitely rely on them for great recommendations. If they don’t have a book in stock, they’ll happily order it for you. I highly recommend paying this place a visit, it’s an absolute dream.