There is a hidden gem in downtown Sarnia for book lovers.
Houde Family Books is tucked just off Christina Street at 100 Charlotte St., and is a treasure trove for readers. The interior winds up floor after floor with reading nooks tucked in cozy spots to allow for a relaxing start on a book or a quick perusal of some new choices.
“Come in, sit, have your coffee,” encourages Rob. “You’re not going to be rushed out.”
Christie and her husband Rob N. Houde (pronounced “hood”) opened the used bookstore in November 2015 with a personal collection that had grown too big, says Rob. They now stock thousands of authors ranging from current best sellers to classics and out of print collector sets.
“There’s a whole bunch of time in literary history that’s lost, that’s only available in second hand stores,” says Rob. “From the 1930s until today, not everything is public domain, so you can’t find digital copies.”
The couple -- like many avid readers -- still enjoy the feel of holding a book, especially when reading some of the classics, says Rob.
At Houde Family Books, the books are all shelved alphabetically and each room hosts its own genre making a search for specific books easy, and investigating new authors or genres a treat. Christie and Rob have read much of what is on the shelves and can make recommendations, and are happy to hear the thoughts of other avid readers.
With daughter Taleah, 8, operating as the store manager, and son Max, 18, helping on the floor, this is very much a family business with everyone pitching in to keep the store clean, shelve and organize new books and show new customers through the store.
A children’s room has been set up to give parents a place to let their little ones colour or read, while the adults can take a moment to sit with a book and enjoy the space. And Taleah is eager to point out the “fairy closet” where, naturally, fairies live with their tiny furnishings.
Hoping to work with other local artists, all the art on the walls in the store is for sale, and Rob says local artists are welcome to contact him to place their works available to the public as well. Christie’s artisan knitting and crochet work is featured throughout the store as are line of La Bumba infant clothing and accessories.
But the jewel of the store is the books themselves. With prices ranging from 3 books for $10 or $4 each readers can easily fill a bag for summer reading.
The Houdes will also take any used books – even text books – in order to keep the books out of landfills and hopefully in the hands of someone who will benefit from the words within.
More information is available on line on their Facebook page