(2017 Times Colonist Book Sale/Times Colonist)

Whether you’re an avid bookworm, or a novice reader looking to test the literary waters, one event is poised to bring people together amid hundreds of thousands of stories, poems, biographies, and more!

You guessed it: we’re talking about the annual Times Colonist Book Sale, which raises funds for education and literacy programs across Vancouver Island every year.

The event has grown in popularity ever since its inception in 1998 years ago, and has raised a total of $5 million so far. This year alone, TC was able to donate over $300,000 to 152 recipients – mostly schools and non-profit organizations.

One of the main factors that makes this particular readers’ haven so popular is the prices: hardcovers $3; softcovers $2; pocket books and children’s books $1. They’re unbeatable!

How to prepare for the TC book sale this weekend

This annual start-of-summer tradition will be back for its 21st year after a largely successful book drive in April, during which donors dropped off over 500,000 books.

The event itself is sure to have lengthy line-ups and will be packed full of readers, just like every other year, so here are some tips on how to prepare for the day:

  • If you’re driving, free parking is available along Quadra Street. But fair warning: these spots will fill up fast.
  • A paid parking lot serves both the Victoria Curling Club (where the event is held) and the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre.
  • For those who don’t want to risk not being able to find a parking spot, the BC Transit number 6 bus will take you straight to the venue.
  • Wear comfortable shoes and make sure your devices are fully charged – there will be a long queue around the block before the doors open on Saturday morning.
  • Don’t worry about bringing food, or having to leave the event for lunch – the Curling Club has a café that will remain open for the duration of the book sale.

Times Colonist’s Jack Knox shares his TC Book Sale tales

Notwithstanding the fact that they cost about 20 times less than new books, buying used books is a particularly alluring activity for several other reasons.

Times Colonist columnist and Victoria’s very own king of satire Jack Knox spoke to Victoria Buzz about some of the things that make their book drives and sales so memorable.

For example, you’ll never believe all the random (and sometimes valuable) objects people accidentally donate along with their old books!

The staff at Times Colonist do their best to find the owners of these goodies, but in some cases, like with the marijuana found stashed inside a book, the items tend to just… vanish into thin air.

They’ve even received bizarre items like an urn of cat ashes that no one wanted to throw out. “Our publisher, Dave Obee, tried watering them to see if they would grow like the mail-order sea monkeys that kids used to buy,” jokes Knox.

And books themselves can often be intriguing artifacts on their own. Since they’ve been owned by other people, they have the power to tell more than one story if you take a closer look.

“Sometimes people will scribble their reactions to a book in the margins, often when they disagree with an assertion. (‘Nonsense! It was Nixon who wound down the war!’),” says Knox. “It makes me wonder who they thought they were writing for. Some inscriptions are quite intimate, almost make you feel like an intruder when you read them.”

Jack and several of his colleagues – the reporters and staff members at the Times Colonist – will be volunteering at the book sale over the weekend, so don’t forget to go say hi.

Pro tip: Jack Knox has graciously agreed to sign copies of his books, so if you stumble upon “Hard Knox” or “Opportunity Knox” at the event make sure to track him down for an autograph!

2018 Times Colonist Book Sale

  • When: Saturday, May 5th – Sunday, May 6th, 9 AM – 5 PM
  • Where: Victoria Curling Club, 1952 Quadra Street

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