To blog or not to blog? Where do we go from here?

Annapolis Royal driveway


In recent years, with much travail, we have managed to build a rather eclectic, but surprisingly successful, website. However, with our retail business now, very sadly, closed (of which much more anon, once the Toronto smoke has cleared), we don’t quite know what to do with it.

Hoare house seen from the rear (as it were)

Should it be discreetly pasturised, along with its aging owner? More constructively, should our blog be beefed up instead? The latter, which has been gathering momentum of late, despite a notable lack of fresh input (also to change, once said dust has settled), would clearly emanate from Annapolis Royal rather than Toronto, and have as much to do with houses as books (q.v. accompanying snapshots). But we are curious to know if our indulgent readers would be even remotely interested in such a marked change of direction, which would effectively replace our present website.

Needless to say, British books would remain our traditional focus, at least by review, with our old passions for history, biography, food and gardening (and our perennial soft spot for children) front and centre. But with an unusual home and its steady restoration about to ice the cake, the overall mix would alter.

People exchange urban for country living all the time, and in that we are hardly unique. But they don’t usually build 18,000-volume libraries from scratch, or upsize, rather than downsize, in retirement.

Brain-free Collie, Austen (also seen from the rear)

So over to you, dear reader. Any and all input most gratefully received ere we embark on this new adventure.



  1. Hello Sir !

    Just discovered your video reviews and I LOVE them very much, but what I love best, is your style…bow tie and silk dressing gown ! Fabulous…may I ask you where you acquired these robes ?
    I would love to add one or two to my wardrobe…
    Bought a Sulka silk robe recently and the classy ones are so hard to find ! Sure hope you keep wearing them every evening ! They suit you so well…
    Wishing you all bey best, big hug, Stefan from San Francisco

  2. Dear Nicholas Hoare,

    Please do continue your inimitable video reviews of British books. I do miss the store and staff on Greene Avenue. Holidays have not been the same sinceā€¦
    Hope you are enjoying your retirement in Nova Scotia, although the snow and repeating storms must be a bit frustrating. How is the new house bearing up and is the library finished?
    Best regards,
    Alan Stewart

  3. Just discovered your blog and certainly hope you keep it going. I’m very interested in hearing about your new adventures in the Maritimes.

  4. I hope very much that once you’re settled in Annapolis Royal, that you will continue to blog – and perhaps even post an occasional video review. I miss you, your staff and your store very, very much, and would love to hear about the plans/work on the library and about the books that are catching your eye.
    I wish you all the very best!

  5. It was a year ago that your wife and I would meet on Mount Royal she with Austin and me with Shado the black Portuguese. I have asked mountain folk if they have seen you but no one had and then I thought you must be at your home in NS I am happy to see Austin and wish your wife you and your daughter all the best from Mount Royal with love from Kathleen

  6. Hi Nicholas…
    Came across your site and thought I would drop you a note to say “Hi”. I see that you are moving to Nova Scotia.
    Hope you will have a happy retirement.
    Would love to hear from you…we have alot of catching up to do!
    Take care…Carrol (Quality Books…many years ago!)

  7. Please continue blogging, so looking forward to it. I have dreamed of building a library like the one you are creating. Stay connected.

  8. Having recently sold my home of 40 years and had to part with much of my beloved library dating back to the ’60s, it would be almost more than one could bear to also lose your blog. I would love to be able to live vicariously through your library and house expansion. You have been my lifeline to a much cherished world of culture, fun and CATS. Please don’t lose your voice.

  9. Please continue blogging…the loss of the Front St. store is hard enought to endure….
    Many thanks for your years of fantastic service and great fun…you are most definitely missed Sir!

  10. Mr. Hoare, here’s a Hear Hear from Toronto (we seem in peril of being overshadowed by Ottawa). Regarding the contents of your blog, I am not able to read as much as I’d like, but mourn the loss of your Front Street store as a welcoming, soulful respite. I also loved the authors’ visits and gatherings. Maybe stories from you, especially your observations about life and change and your new environment, will feel like being there again. You are in a part of Canada that I don’t know very well, so bring on the commentary!

  11. I say blog! I was born and raised for a time in “The Valley” and would welcome reading about your adventures. In recent travels to the Maritimes, I have collected many fond memories of the people and the life in the country and on the sea. The experiences were as though I had been dropped into the middle of a popular BBC television series for Master Piece theatre, with all the endearing characters and comical adventures. I’m sure you will have many amusing stories to tell us.

  12. Please blog on, including your adventures in retirement….it is always a pleasure to receive a notification from you..include info about your cats too..loved seeing the furry body in your Ottawa store….

  13. Dear Nicholas,
    yes yes yes please keep the links open to the book world ! We miss being able to drop into Greene avenue to soak in the real live books & see the new arrivals.

    Pilots & Pilot Ternis

  14. Please continue your blog. Your very entertaining and informative reviews have been so sustaining in themselves as well as providing us with wonderful books to read and share with others. I would love to hear all about Annapolis Royal – give Downton Abbey a run for it’s money.
    Thank you for all of the enjoyment and enrichment you’ve provided.

  15. I think the previous 29 comments say it all !! Your blog, for the short time I have been reading it has lead me to a number of British literary finds which I otherwise would have missed. Plese. please don’t stop now.

  16. When you review a book and find favour, I buy it. Never been disappointed yet. It’s your taste and experience I value.

  17. We hang on your every word. One consolation of the closings (particularly Ottawa, which was the best of the stores, a BIG statement) has been the thought that the website, and the blogs, should and must continue. So by all means, sir, please do!

  18. I am hereby adding my voice to those pleading that you continue blogging! Your Ottawa store was one of my favorites – a trip to the Market was not complete unless a detour to the best bookshop was included. You would not lack for an audience.

  19. It is a generous offer. If you blog it, we will read it. Do entertain us with tales of life in Annapolis Royal and continue to tell us about your literary discoveries. The bricks and mortar are no more but the spirit of your bookstores may ‘virtually’ live on. We are greatly missing the erudite punmaster Barrie on Greene Avenue’s 3rd floor and his companion Oscar, the bookstore cat. Please pass on our regards if you should be in contact with him.

  20. Keep blogging! Blog away! Don’t stop. I was saddened by your store-closings, but of course I understand. It’s a good thing you brought all your book friends with you to your new place. Keep on keeping on and we’ll all be waiting for the next instalment.

  21. Please do blog! I know several people anxiously awaiting blog posts that can pass along your reading recommendations. One of the most enjoyable parts of the stores was knowing anything off the shelves was going to be a great read!!!

  22. Yes, please keep going. Books, house, garden, brain-free collies, whatever…
    By the way, there’s a new book out on the French jewellery designer, Suzanne Belperron, based on her archive, docts., etc…by Sylvie Raulet & Olivier Baroin (Antique Collectors Club, ISBN 978-1-85149-625-9. I haven’t seen it, but I did see jewellery designed by Belperron at the late lamented Grosvenor House Antique Fair: stunning Art Moderne/Deco stuff.

  23. Please continue. We need your reliable guidance. If we must hear about bucolic Annapolis Royal, bountiful flower gardens and the ugly world of renovation, so be it.

  24. Nicholas,

    Please continue to share your thoughts with us. In addition to your reviews, we would want to follow your adventures, interests, and developments in Annapolis Royal.


  25. I have very much enjoyed your book reviews and have bought several books based on your recommendations. I think “to blog” is the right thing to do!

  26. Definitely keep the blog going! I’m new to your updates but adding a house restoration and the installation of a huge library into the mix is all for the best. Looking forward to the next post! Joanne

  27. An occasionally regular blog would be a delight and would go a little way toward filling the hole that the closing of your store on Front Street has blown into my reading life. Please, continue. Write about the house, the garden, the snow drifts, the brainless collie, the new books that you find and the old ones you read again, the soup you’re making for dinner… A blog will make it feel like you are less far away.

  28. In the past your blogs have led me to many fine books that otherwise would have missed my attention.
    I would be delighted if you were to continue the blogging,please!!!

  29. Please carry on – the balance between home, food, books and gardening is exactly what I and I would hazard to guess more people need. Thank you for everything – may it continue!

  30. Please DO continue!!! I’m just about finished the last book I bought at your Toronto store (The Missing Ink by Philip Hensher) and would love some intelligent guidance of what I might take up to read next. I’ve bookmarked you and plan to check in regularly.

  31. I think it would be wonderful if you decided to continue with the blog. I so enjoyed your book reviews as well as my visits to your Toronto and Ottawa shops. I live in a century house in Uxbridge that we have tended to for thirty years so I would enjoy following your home ministrations as well. I am well served here in town by our own award winning independent, Blue Heron Books. I know there are many fellow readers who would eagerly follow your reviews, thoughts and travails as you build your library and adapt and contribute to maritime life.

  32. Nicholas, my sentiments have already been clearly expressed to you verbally — you must continue to share your insights on the books you like, the horticulture you now have time and place to pursue, and the world in general. E.B. White retired to Maine but continued to enrich the world with his genius long after. You must not fail us — either!

  33. Keep it up and alter as you see fit. I believe most of your followers will stay. Some will drop off. New ones will come to take their place.
    Best wishes in the new adventure. I recently left Toronto myself for a more rural life in Ingersoll. And we’ve only unpacked 3/4 of our books. We have to wait until we can renovate the basement before the rest of them can come out of boxes. We also have a huge library and love books.

  34. To blog, my good sir. Most definitely, to blog. Libraries, books, grand old houses and all the wonderful ways in which they intersect are some of my favourite things.

  35. Yes please, do blog! If only once in a while in the same vein as your in-store chats, I know I speak for myself and others, that we’d love to have this continue on-line even if you find yourself gravitating towards books that have to do with the countryside rather than city scape. Wise words of wisdom from a true connoisseur of books ranks so much higher than an Amazon review.

  36. I think it is a great idea and I would be very interested. I live in Burlington, Ontario and I have been a member of the Loquacious Compendium Book Club in Nova Scotia (via long distance) for several years. I would be totally interested. I will miss your wonderful book clubs with Ben. Janice Collins

  37. PLEASE continue blogging. I want to hear about it all: the house, the library, the Brit fic, the transition to pasture.

  38. How do I get an invitation to see Hoare House, and just more than the rear – I’m versitile! In all seriousness, I was crushed by the closure of the store in Toronto. It’s just another part of Toronto that is now gone. All the best, and I’ll be awaiting an invite. It looks heavenly.


    • Please do continue. The mix of books and household dust will be most invigorating for us all. You and your staff have left us bereft on Greene Avenue!
      With our grateful thanks for those good years, Taylors


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