Of Hero’s Quests And Yellowed Pages: My Life In Used Bookstores

Even when I was a kid, I loved used bookstores. I loved them in part because I’ve always loved stories, and storytelling. They are integral to the human experience. But I also loved them for the quest.

As we’ve learned from Joseph Campbell by now, so many of the stories we love share the same patterns. We can even pick them out as we read them. Yet they still seem to retain their power. We can all relate to the idea of the quest. I suppose that’s because, in the end, that’s what life actually is.

Buying books and comics is a pretty straightforward exercise these days. But those interested in the quest don’t much care for the straightforward. For me, the quest is where the magic can be found. I want the objects, sure. But as a kid and even now I wanted the adventure of finding them, too. In this way it’s not just about collecting objects. It’s about the idea that there is a hero locked inside everyone and that the purpose of life is to set the hero free somehow.

All of this wasn’t something I could put into those terms when I was in elementary school, learning to ride my bike, and then becoming curious about the world around me. But I understood it, and I aspired to be a questing hero anyway. Continue reading “Of Hero’s Quests And Yellowed Pages: My Life In Used Bookstores”

LitFest New West!


I feel lucky as all get out to have snagged tickets to what seems to be one of the hottest tickets of the season. LitFest New West’s event about craft beer on May 13 – Royal City Craft Beer Revolution-  is about books and beer. This event will look at the history of brewing in New Westminster, and will feature Joe Wiebe, author of Craft Beer Revolution: An Insider’s Guide to BC Brewerieshost Stephen Quinn from CBC’s On The Coast, as well as beer samples from local breweries Steel & Oak, Dageraad, and Four Winds.

If this is what a literary festival is like, count me in, right?

LitFest New West started as the Royal City Book Festival in 2009. This year’s iteration features some really non-booky type events I’m rather excited about, and that I think will really show off what the potential for a literary festival really is. It’s not just about books, but rather songwriting, discussions, enjoyment, and diversity. Three of the many Lit Fest events on my personal radar are:

  • The RCFM’s Author Market on May 12 – This special market – and also the opening of the summer season for RCFM – will feature numerous local authors who will be on hand to sign and sell their books, as well as answer your questions! Admittedly, I’m biased as the RCFM President, but direct author access is wonderful no matter what the setting is. It’s from 3-7 in Tipperary Park, right beside City Hall. Don’t forget your shopping tote and bring cash as many of the authors aren’t set up to take your debit or credit cards.
  • Singer/Songwriter Panel – May 14 – Into music at all? This roundtable panel features an all star lineup of artists: Art Bergmann, Carolyn Mark,  D. Trevlon, New Wester Eden Fine Day, Joe Keithley (of DOA) and Sean Nelson (of Harvey Danger and The Long Winters). Stuart Derdeyn hosts and each panelist will perform two songs after the discussion. This one is ticketed, get the tickets here. At the Laura C Muir Theatre at Douglas College from 7-9pm.
  • How to Read a Graphic Novel – May 17 this is a great look at graphic novels featuring local author and artist Kurtis Findlay. I wrote a post over on Kids New West.ca about it that sums up the event plus gives you some recommendations for graphic novels for your kids to try. At the Queens Park Gallery from 7-9pm. Registration is appreciated, but stopping by is fine too.

The complete list of events is available on the Lit Fest website, and most events are free.


The New Westminster Public Library has prepared a list of books that are inspired by the LitFest so if you’re looking for something new on your bookshelf, check them out. And, if I can give you a hint, one of the best book reading places is the hammocks at the Pier Park.