Posted December 8, 2014 by in Literary Travels

Owl’s Nest Books - Calgary’s Finest Independent Bookstore

Owls Nest Books

Nestled deep in the heart of Calgary is a gem of an independent bookstore, Owl’s Nest Books. I had the pleasure  to visit Owl’s Nest Books in Calgary, Alberta recently and meet with the owner, Michael Hare. Michael and his wife, Susan, opened Owl’s Nest Books in 1975, meaning that next year is their 40th anniversary. Judith, their store manager, helps run the store as well and was busy working with the many customers who are coming and going as I arrived.

Owl’s Nest Books is burrowed into the Britannia neighborhood of Calgary. It is next to Sunterra and Britannia Wine Merchants, so you can get all required supplies for a good night of reading. They offer you the option of ordering online and picking up in store. They really get to know you and can always suggest a book you’ll love.

What I first noticed when I entered was the smell. There is something about all libraries and bookstores that gives you that book smell, but there is also the smell of 40 years of history coming from the pages. You know you are somewhere that feels comfortable and warm. As I walked among the 5000 books I noticed a disproportionate amount of literary fiction and children’s books.

Owl's Nest BooksMichael told me that his walls are filled with about 5,000 books. That includes 2,000 literary fiction and 2,000 children’s books waiting to be opened. Michael told me that they specialize in literary fiction because that is what they choose the best for their customers. The children’s section takes up half the store, which makes sense as they have four different book clubs for children: grades 3-6, grades 7-9, and grades 10-12. I love their support for young readers and they are pretty full as well, with about 20-30 students in each.

Owl's Nest children's SectionOn asking Michael about choosing a book by its cover he said, “You can judge a book by its cover, absolutely. Everyone does it. So it is true.” You could tell that Michael knew his customers well and really created the community around Britannia. We barely had a chance to talk as almost everyone walking into Starbucks knew him by name and stopped to talk. I was most impressed by his relationships with locals and their need to talk books. They were more than happy to talk about how the customer service and warmth of the bookstore kept their customers coming back for more. This loyalty can be seen in their mystery book club which has about 20+ members with some taking part for over 18 years.

I also love that Owl’s Nest Books has some great ties with local Calgary writing resources like FreeFall Magazine and Alexandra Writers’ Centre Society which include WINE NIGHTS and READINGS! Check out Owl”s Nest Book events here. I am planning on attending the FreeFall launch on January 29th.

At the end of it all, I picked up a delicious pumpkin pie from Sunterra before I retreated to my burrow to begin reading my next story.

William Y.

Marketing manager, editor, and author. I am a bookkaholic who stays up into dawn reading, wakes up groggy and grabs another book to make myself feel human again. I am an avid outdoors-man, but find myself behind a computer more than outdoors these days. I try not to tell many people this, but I really liked the Star Wars book series... Check out all my articles.