My husband and I moved to the Comox Valley four years ago. From the start, we’ve enjoyed navigating our way around and discovering our must-go places. We now feel truly settled, having found connection through community. But, as a newcomer, I often filled the awkward void of loneliness with the one friend I can always rely on—books.
A book is more than a way to pass the time: it’s a great companion, a safe haven, a place to visit, a world to explore. And a bookstore offers endless possibilities. It’s always a thrill to stumble on a new release from your favourite author or a book you’ve been meaning to read.
In this age of e-readers and instant downloads, I still enjoy a real book. The digital format feels two-dimensional to me. It lacks the tangible, multi-sensory pleasure of an actual book: the smell of paper, the whisper of a turning page.
And because buying pre-owned books helps me satisfy the three Rs (reduce-reuse-recycle) and lessen my global footprint, I love our Valley’s secondhand bookstores: Nearly New Books and Second Page Bookstore. Both carry a large and ever-changing selection of books in a wide variety of genres for all ages, and both offer a warm welcome—and the delightful possibility of a serendipitous find at a bargain price—to book lovers in search of new companions.
Nearly New Books in downtown Comox is owned and operated by Diane and Dan Kyle, who moved here from Victoria 15 years ago with a passion for reading and a philosophy about books that mirrors my own. As Diane says, “reading is often associated with love, and all of the warmth that comes from passing time with a good friend.”
The Kyles strongly believe reading is an essential skill, especially for children, so they’ve tucked reading mats into a small alcove where children can settle down with a book or two, granting precious time and space for their parents to peruse the shelves in peace.
What Diane loves most about their space is “the natural light and the greenery beyond the westerly bank of windows connecting the outside from within.” With its location at the intersection of Comox Avenue and Port Augusta Street, Nearly New Books is a cornerstone of the local reading community. No-charge parking located close by makes popping into the store a breeze. Plus, it’s wheelchair accessible—all on one level, with room to roam the aisles and books at a reachable height. A lovely bonus: surplus books are generously donated to charity, with Too Good to Be Threw as the main recipient.
Second Page Bookstore has a prime location in the heart of downtown Courtenay on the corner of Duncan Avenue and Simms Street, next to the Comox Valley Art Gallery. This venerable shop has been owned by the Carson family for over 40 years. As you enter, you’re likely to be greeted by Boo the Magnificent—a friendly ginger cat of senior years, who loves to perch on the checkout counter at the store’s front—and Craig Carson, the current proprietor.
Original fir floors line the roomy, wheelchair- and scooter-friendly aisles, and free parking along Duncan Avenue makes for easy access. There’s plenty of room to ponder Craig’s impressive selection of volumes, which he describes as “a continued work in progress.” The store is known among local history buffs for its strong selection of British Columbia history books, including collector’s items. Craig tells me he sets a daily intention to make Second Page a place “where all are welcome and where my passion for books and love for this community is top priority!”
Each store offers a trade-in policy for used books in exchange for a 50% discount on a rolling credit for future purchases. And each will refer customers to the other when they cannot satisfy a specific request. What better place for Comox Valley book lovers to find a new literary friend?