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On Books + Commitment: We Shop at Mosaic Books.

Mosaic Books, the largest independent bookseller in Okanagan Valley.

It’s Saturday, April 27th. In Canada, it’s Independent Bookstore Day. By coincidence, Chris and I went into Mosaic Books – an independent bookstore that opened its doors in downtown Kelowna, B.C., back in 1968. It’s the Okanagan Valley’s largest independent bookstore.

We are three weeks into our seven-week stay in West Kelowna. Until today, dinner reservations are the only fun things we’ve crossed the bridge into Kelowna for. On Monday night, we went to JOEY Kelowna. Last night, we ate at Cactus Club. Today, we wanted to walk by Okanagan Lake, check out Kelowna’s downtown shops, and hike the Apex Trail up Knox Mountain. Rain kept us from hiking. 

“There’s the bookstore Sabreena told me about,” I said. 

“I’m looking for a parking spot,” Chris said. 

I noted the Mosaic Bookstore’s location. Chris drove just beyond the downtown area, made a couple of turns, and returned us to the street the bookstore is on – Bernard Avenue.  

The heavy dark clouds we noticed as we crossed the bridge were closer. Chris found a spot on Bernard Avenue, but several blocks from the store. We stood outside our truck as Chris updated the PayByPhone app on his phone and entered the numbers of his new license plates into it to pay for parking. It felt like such a process, and I wasn’t even helping. I miss putting coins into parking meters. 

At Mosaic Books

We made it to the bookstore before any raindrops fell. At the entrance, a young woman greeted us and told us about the specials happening in celebration of Independent Bookstore Day. I let her know it was our first time in the store and asked if there was anything they specialized in, or that we should know about. 

“We have a big bargain section that has new books in it, too,” she pointed to it. The bargain area was well organized—categorized by general topic and alphabetized by author. I took my time, perusing title by title, not looking for anything in particular. It’s been so long. 

Sure, I wandered the aisles of Topping & Company Booksellers in Edinburgh, Scotland. There, I knew I wouldn’t purchase a book. Just peruse. Our luggage’s weight was too near its limit for our flight from Europe to the United States. 

See: We moved to Portugal 17 Months Ago. In 9 Days, We’re Leaving. to catch up on the last of our European nomadic adventure. 

In Portugal, I shopped in the world’s oldest, continuously running bookstore, Livraria Bertrand’s Chiado neighborhood location and in one of the world’s most beautiful bookstores in Porto, Livraria Lello. Both had some books in English available on their shelves. I purchased souvenirs for myself and my family and friends at each of the stores. The latter was more touristy than the first. 

Me on the famous staircase in Livraria Lello, one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world. It's in Porto, Portugal.

I went to Mosaic Books to shop free from algorithm chains and social media influence and left with four books: Nowhere for Very Long by Brianna Madia, My What If Year by Alisha Fernandez Miranda, The Paris Novel by Ruth Reichl, and Between Two Kingdoms by Suleika Jaouad. Apart from Between Two Kingdoms, I hadn’t heard of any of the books I bought. It’s a magic that, with rare exceptions, I’ve missed since the pandemic started and our nomadic lifestyle began. 

The four books I purchased from Mosaic Books stacked in front of a Mosaic Books bag.

As we checked out, rain fell outside. At the stoplight outside the bookstore, we saw Deville Coffee and decided to tuck in there until the weather was better. After coffee and cookies, we went for a walk to the Okanagan Lake and then back to our truck. Chris added 15 minutes to the meter, so we didn’t have to rush back. I guess the apps are better than the meters.

My latte and ginger cookie inside Deville Coffee, across the street from Mosaic Books.
My ginger cookie and latte inside Deville Coffee Shop.

When we leave West Kelowna, we’re driving to Minnesota. In Minnesota, we’re signing a year-long lease on a place. I’m buying a new desk and a bookcase to put into a room of my own. My new books will have a place to exist with some permanency. So will Chris and me.  

After a year passes, as long as we’re happy with our choice, we’ll make a bigger commitment and buy a house. If not, we’ll pack my new books into a U-Haul and drive wherever we’re going with them in tow. 

If you went on a multi-year nomadic adventure, what would you miss most (besides family + friends, obviously)?

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