Hastings West Historic Walk – Part 9 | Sophia Books (not part of the tour)

Sophia Books still on Google Maps

The Vancouver Heritage Foundation‘s Historic Walking Tour of Hastings West continued past Harbour Centre and across Richards Street to the Standard Building.

However, I am going to make a huge personal divergence here.  One of my favourite bookstores used to be beside the Waves Coffee at Hastings and Richards.  It was Sophia Books.  Sophia Books was not part of our tour, but it was an important little bookstore in my life.

Sophia Books (credit: Jeremy Hood)

I first encountered Sophia Books when it was down on Nelson Street just off of Granville.  It was a tiny bookstore that my friend took me to when we were in elementary school.  This bookstore specialized in Japanese books at the time and my Japanese friend naturally took me down there to show me all the neat anime art books and comics.  I couldn’t read anything, but I remember leafing through all the Japanese manga and anime art books.  I even ended up buying some Macross posters from Sophia Books as a kid.  Posters were a “good” buy since I couldn’t read any Japanese, but I could definitely appreciate the art.

In the 90’s, Sophia Books closed shop, or so I thought.  I never did go looking for it.  However, around 2003, my sister said she went to a place called Sophia Books to buy French books for her kids.  The name instantly caught my interest.  She told me that it was right by Harbour Centre on Hastings and Richards.  I asked her if they had Japanese books too.  She asked how did I know they carried Japanese books.  A name like “Sophia” doesn’t suggest Japanese, does it?  I told her I had gone down to the original Sophia Books as a kid when my friend and I were all over anime and manga.  To a certain extent, I still am.

A Kyoto guidebook bought at Sophia Books

So before Sophia Books closed down to 2010, I would frequent the store on Friday afternoons and check out some of the books.  I bought a few books from there over my short re-acquaintance with the store.  I purchased a Japanese-published guide to Kyoto book from there before my big trip to Osaka, Kyoto, and Kobe in 2009.  I also bought some French books for my niece and nephew to encourage them in their French immersion studies. I also wish I bought a copy of Octonauts and One Thousand Languages when I saw them there.

Further reading:

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