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Canadian Urbanism Uncovered

How do books on Toronto stack up?

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On top of my publisher and creative director duties with Spacing magazine, I also look after the book section in the Spacing Store. I’ve tried to keep a wide collection of titles in stock that reflect the vast interests of our customers. While we mostly focus on Toronto-themed books, we also carry other urban-centric publications like Jane Jacobs’s books or the Fantastic Cities colouring book series. And there are a lot of titles we wished we had in that stack (such as the Historical Atlas of Toronto which is out of print at the moment).

During a store cleaning session I ended up stacking a lot of books on top of each other and quickly realized how impressive it looked. If you asked your friends to name five books about the city they might be hard pressed to reach that total. But this stack clearly shows that our city has a deep culture of documenting itself.

If you’re planning on coming by the Spacing Store for holiday shopping, looking over this long, scrolling graphic of our books might help you figure out what to get that picky Toronto-phile.

If you click on the image of stacked books it will open a larger file for you to zoom-in on.




  1. I counted 48 on my bookshelves, including the “Historical Atlas of Toronto”. Strangely, there is very little overlap between my bookshelf and your stack.

  2. Would love to know your list, David.

  3. Matthew,

    I moved here from Montreal in 1980, knowing little about Toronto and its history and so bought many books about Toronto. Then 1984 arrived and many books were published about Toronto, some of which I bought. Since then, I’ve bought books from time to time, their subject matter being all over the map.

    I can send you a list if there’s a way to do so.

  4. Do you have the Hans Ibelings book in stock? I think it’s called the “Rise of Sprawl”. Looks at Toronto’s convoluted relationship with condominiums as a building typology.

  5. James: We only carry a few — Andre Alexis titles and In The Skin of a Lion. Our goal (eventually) is to expand our fiction selections. But we are max capacity now.

  6. Barry: Yes, it’s the stack. Stuck under the book “Making Toronto Modern”.

  7. Gemma Files’ terrific, awrd-winning 2015 horror novel EXPERIMENTAL FILM — set partially in Toronto and partially in Cottage Country, with a special guest appearance by Sneaky Dee’s?

  8. There are a lot of mysteries set in Toronto.

  9. I guess I need to send you a copy of Faces on Places: A Grotesque Tour of Toronto (Anansi, 2006).

  10. My first book about Toronto I received from a friend while i was living in South Africa. I had mentioned that one day my family will move there. Well, 27 years later I am in awe as to how much Toronto has changed. What a great city. Moving here was the correct decision.

  11. In terms of architecture and urbanism, I loved Unbuilt Toronto and Toronto: No Mean City. The latter book, in particular, was eye opening about the city’s rich architectural heritage and just how much has been destroyed over the years. If you look at streetscapes of the St. Lawrence area and the Financial District from the late 19th century, you’ll see that they resembled Montreal and many great American cities. Once the buildings are demolished, people forget they existed and something great is lost.