Best Of: Montreal Bookstores [Part 2]

Your favorite intrepid page hunter is back pretending to read

The Word Bookstore is famous for its interior. Photo Sophie Dufresne

In this second installment of my bookstore review column, I review The Word Bookstore, Encore Books and Records, and Librairie le port-de-tête. I also spend all of my summer pay on books.

the atmosphere

The Word Book Store: 11/10

469 rue Milton

At the entrance, newspaper articles line the authenticity of this corner on the wall. A headline from 2015 stands out: “The Word Turns 40 – But Looks Much Older.” Indeed, this store has a very distinctive old bookstore vibe that will make you want to stay and comb the shelves.

The shop is fairly small, but its walls are lined floor to ceiling with books covering every era from ancient Greece to the 21st century.

Encore Books and Records: 8/10

5670 Sherbrooke Street W.

The first thing that catches your eye upon entering is the Rock’n’Roll playing near the cash register. The second is the old book smell emanating from the rows of used novels, anthologies, plays and philosophical writings. It really feels like stepping into a 70’s record store. Books are stacked in piles on the top shelves, organized in rows by category. The vast majority of titles are secondhand, but there is a small bookshelf of new volumes.

Librairie le port-de-tête: 8/10

262 Avenue du Mont-Royal Est

I found this bookstore by accident while walking down Avenue Mont-Royal while postponing my research.

What makes Librairie le port-de-tête special is that it has three locations on the same street: one that sells graphic novels and children’s books; a second with poetry, literature and theater; and a third focuses on philosophy, science and humanities. The third was my favorite, so I’ll just repeat the locale that specializes in the sciences.

The interior of the Librairie le port-de-tête Photo Sophie Dufresne


The Word Book Store: 9/10

This store has shelves of books that cost $1. My friend threw me Civil War in France: The Paris Commune by Karl Marx and VI Lenin and said: “You’re welcome. It’s only $1.” It was the first time I got such an old copy of a book for less than the original price printed on the cover.

I was also pleasantly surprised to find a $10 copy of a 1946 black and gold hardcover edition The Collected Poems of Hart Crane. I have no idea who Hart Crane is, but the book looks beautiful on my bookshelf, right next to all my other old books by well-known and lesser-known authors.

Encore Books and Records: 10/10

This was the cheapest bookstore I’ve ever been to. The cookbook I got for my dad’s birthday was $6.95 here and was listed at $41.20 on Amazon. Sure, used, but only the cover is slightly worn around the edges.

Many books here are $6.95, which is very cheap for hardcover poetry (consult an expert who spends money on poetry collections). The 485-page hardcover book of selected writings by Jean-Paul Sartre was $9.95—I don’t think you can find it anywhere else for less, given that it’s a first edition from 1965. I deserve a credit for this find, and Encore deserves a credit for finally bringing this type of literature, normally reserved for the elite, to the working class.

Librairie le port-de-tête: 6/10

Although they mainly sell new books, with prices matching Amazon’s fairly high rates, their used books are around $4.

At the cheaper end for new books was a $9 French edition Towards a scientific analysis of the homosexual questionoriginally published in 1975 in response to the open homophobia then still pervasive in the American anti-revisionist movement.


The Word Book Store: 8/10

This store is primarily an academic bookstore that sells used books and textbooks. They organize their products by literary genres but have small sections dedicated to minority communities. Her philosophy books are mostly western, but they have small sections on Chinese history and indigenous culture.

Encore Books and Records: 8/10

Encore sells almost as many French books as English books, and the philosophy department is rich in French philosophers, with several works in their original languages ​​and translated versions. I have never seen such a well mastered English-French balance in any other bookstore in Montreal.

Blacks and Asians were represented in many sections, particularly the poetry shelves, and the cashier clarified that they also have a Black Studies section and a Black Anthologies section.

Librairie le port-de-tête: 8.5/10

According to my Notes app, my first comment was, “You have almost an entire bookshelf dedicated to Plato, which I think is a little overkill.” They rehabilitated with a feminist section that was very inclusive of queer and transgender voices and one pleasantly surprising number of women writers from Quebec.

This store contained many books on anti-capitalism written by black authors. Although I needed more Indigenous books, I found this bookstore to be one of the few francophone bookstores where marginalized communities are well represented.

In total

The Word Bookstore: 9.5/10

To give an idea of ​​how committed they are to their vintage aesthetic, they only accept cash. Luckily there is an ATM at the corner store across the street and the staff keep books for the time it takes to walk to and from the ATM.

Encore Books and Records: 9/10

Forever in love with this bookshop – it also helps that they have copies of The Link on display next to the entrance! On the other hand, this also applies to The Word …

Librairie le port-de-tête: 8/10

The philosophical eatery is undergoing renovations until October 10th, but while the prices were a little discouraging, I’d recommend it for the large selection of books.

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