Creative Resource: Used Books from the Library

Recently my sister Shannon told me that the Toronto Public Library has a used bookstore. She’d been wanting to go for a long time so we decided to have a little Friday adventure!

Book Ends has two locations and we went to the one in the Reference Library at Yonge & Bloor. I spent a lot of time in that library when I was in high school. When I had a big assignment, I would skip class for the day and come downtown to the library instead. I would find a good spot, gather my materials and read, read read, write, write, write. Every now and then I would take a break, leaving my stuff and grabbing a coffee or exploring another section of the library and sitting on the floor with a great find.

Speaking of great finds, Shannon and I literally walked in the door, turned the corner and found this…

Sugar and Spice

It might not look like much to the non-Ridler eye but for us, it is a treasure: the book we used to learn piano! We always had a piano in our home. Though none of us stuck with lessons for very long, the girls in the family enjoyed playing one or two songs and several Christmas carols. Our grandma would play for us when she would visit. Some of my earliest memories are of dancing around the living room as she made the piano sing. She didn’t need written music; she just played.


I picked up Sugar & Spice for 50 cents, excited about how I can use this meaningful music in art projects.

Library Book Shelves

When I shop for secondhand books , I never come home with fiction.  In fact, I rarely come home with books I am going to read! What other kinds of books are there? I go in search of books to look at, books to glide through, books that build my visual vocabulary and spark my imagination, plus books to use as art-making materials. I love art books, photography books, coffee table books, animal books, travel books and kids books.  (I heart the illustrations in kids books)

Like me, Shannon will look for visual gems but she will also gather great reads, from fiction to plays to poetry. She shares a lot of her reading on her YouTube Channel. Check it out!

If you were headed to a used book sale, what section would we find you in?

I plan on doing a “haul” video about the books I picked up but in the meantime, here’s the pile I came  home with for $10!

I’m going to be cutting up The Natural History of Canada and dividing the pages with Shannon. LOL, does the thought of cutting up a book freak you out? I still can’t believe that I do that kind of thing. I used to keep my books very pristine. In fact, I used to be so particular that when my siblings borrowed one of my books, they would barely open it when reading, in the hope that they could return it looking just like new!

Oh, how I’ve changed. Now I highlight with abandon and write in the margins. I use books as sketchbooks and I use book covers as folders. I have cut dozens apart and use their pages for junk journals. I don’t think this means I am any less of a book lover. If anything, with this active interaction, I feel like I’ve come to love books even more.

I encourage you to expand your relationship with books.

Buy them. Borrow them. Read them. Respond to them. Write in them (though not if you borrowed them)  Colour in them. Display them. Alter them. Highlight them. Write them. Gift them. See if your library sells them and/or discovered where you can treasure hunt for them in your neighbourhood. Above all, enjoy them! We certainly do!


  1. Janet says:

    I love your unabashed love of all the ways books can add to our lives! Sounds as good as chocolate! Love this first ” reclaiming my blog” post.

  2. scr4pl80 says:

    I go to the local Salvation Army and St. Vincent De Paul Society stores. I can find treasures there for just a few dollars. I recently got up the nerve to use a book as a junk journal and while cutting it up did make me a little nervous, I considered that I was giving the book a new life. I never used to write in books either but now give me a highlighter for sure when I am reading and come across a quote I just have to remember. Thanks for sharing your adventure, Jamie and Shannon!

  3. Shannon says:

    I still can’t believe Sugar and Spice was there (and in better condition than the one we had!). Thank you so much for adventuring together to the Book Store, I had so much fun looking at all the books together and am so happy you found so many treasures. A day to remember!

  4. Suzie Ridler says:

    Love it Jamie!!! Thank you for letting us join you on this exciting literary adventure and OMG, totally remember that piano book! Yes, you have changed, you used to worry so much about the slightest bend to the spine in your books. You have come a long, long way and are so adventurous now when it comes to the physical books.

Leave a Reply