The Importance of Reading Books

The Importance of Reading Books

April 19, 2022

I was to deliver a speech at the Annual General Meeting of the Windsor Public Library Board on April 12.

Unfortunately my presentation never came about as I contracted  covid and was unable to deliver the speech. Since my message is about the importance of books, libraries and independent bookstores; plus how I came to open a bookshop -  I thought there was merit in sharing it with you, our readers. 


The Importance of Reading Books

It is a real pleasure to be speaking at the Windsor Public Library annual meeting  this morning, I am quite honoured actually. I do think my grade 10 english teacher would be very surprised to hear that you invited me - writing was not exactly a strength of mine back in high school.

Looking back I now realize that I have actually been a bibliophile long before I even  knew the term. When my brother, Tom and I were really young a nightly ritual was listening to my dad read from the Thorton W. Burgess nature series. Books like “Blacky the Crow and the Adventures of Reddy Fox, Bobby Raccoon or Old Mr. Toad”. I still have a full collection of the Burgess titles and have made sure that we carry a number of them in the River Bookshop. 


Now my dad couldn’t afford to purchase all the titles so I filled in the missing titles from my grade school library, Not only did these titles help me fall in love with reading but they caused me to ba a naturalist to this day and this is reflected in the many bird boxes, turtles and snakes that I protect on my Boblo property. 

While my school performance at Massey was not stellar by any stretch of imagination, my reading continued with To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee and Catch 22 by Joseph Heller among others. The James Bond series by Ian Fleming was a personal favourite. Even though my dad would not let me read one of the titles as he judged it too racy…I eventually snuck it in.

In University  I was drawn more to business books like those from the father of modern management - Peter Drucker. Throughout my business career I never had a true mentor. I had some good bosses and a few bad bosses who taught me leadership things that I definitely should not do and some things that I should probably do, but again, no true mentor . So my mentors became business authors like Peters and Waterman. Dr. Noel Tichy, Jack Welch and Jim Collins.

They were all so influential that when I wrote my second book - 21 Leadership Lessons - I devoted an entire chapter on 21 Leadership books aspiring leaders should read. To kick off that chapter I thought it appropriate to quote horror writer, Dean Koontz “Each book is a mind alive, a life revealed, a world awaiting exploration”

In my active retirement I have now become a self taught urbanist, pushing and prodding local elected officials to help make Amherstburg even better, following the disciplines of using  evidence backed data , adapting  international best practices and always following the science. So my serious reading has switched again, this time to Jane Jacobs, Ken Greenberg, Richard Florida, Jan Gehl and others.


Now, all serious reading can make anyone a dull person - this year I am just finishing up my 33rd read with the 2022 Canada Reads winner Five Little Indians by Michelle Good. Pick it up.   You won’t be disappointed.

All this to say, reading books has definitely impacted MY life. 

However, it was only well into my life that I learned about the proven benefits of reading for adults and especially for kids. For instance, reading sparks a child’s imagination and stimulates curiosity, it helps develop a child’s brain, their communication skills and their ability to focus and concentrate.  

At our bookshop I often tell parents that books help their children to grow up to be much better adults. I truly think if more parents had read to their kids the world would  be in much better shape today 

So after working in business and sports, how did I come to open a book shop?

Apparently I did what the late Steve Jobs said about connecting the dots - “You have to know that somehow the dots will connect in your future, you have to trust in something  — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever,  this approach has never let me down. and has made all the difference in my life”

We opened our independent River Bookshop in Amherstburg almost two years ago. Not ever an easy business, especially when you open during a pandemic but we believe that all communities should have a bookshop and a library.

Our four core values at our shop are to inspire. engage, educate and entertain I think you would agree that those align with your ambitions here at the Windsor Public Library.  

Today Colleen and I spend a lot of effort making our bookshop special but we also have time for the libraries in our life. For years now we have financially supported the youth hub at the Sanderson branch in Toronto. Like all the youth hubs, it’s a welcoming place for teens after school and in the summer  where helpful staff are always available. 

A very good friend, who i admire greatly is - Ms. Vickery Bowles - City librarian for the Toronto Public Library and Vice chairperson of the Urban Library Council based in Washington DC. I asked her for her thoughts on the importance of libraries and her response was, and I quote, “Public libraries are catalysts for our cities’ success and our communities’ resilience and renewal which is particularly important as we emerge from global pandemic. No other public institution has the mandate and reach,  physical and digital infrastructure, talent and community presence to support local residents’ changing needs while at the same time supporting cities’ broader civic and socio-economic goals”

So as directors remember your mission and always remember that…books are magic.



Things to Watch for....


River Bookshop Book Club

Don’t forget our book club - the last Tuesday of every month. Because we are still popping up White Woods Home in our Hole in the Wall space our bookclubs will be virtual in April. On April 26th we will focus on Scarborough by Catherine Hernandez. Scarborough was a Canada Reads runner up so be prepared for a great read. Let us know if you’d like to be added to the Zoom invite list by emailing

#IndieEventsWith from Penguin Random House

Once again Penguin Random House is partnering with Indie Bookstores across Canada to offer their #IndieEventsWith conversations with entertaining and engaging authors like Douglas Stuart, author of the acclaimed Shuggie Bain and the newly released Young Mungo. Purchase of the book gets you exclusive access to this virtual event on April 28th.



Book Launch - in partnership with Black Moss Press - April 28, 7pm

Come and enjoy an evening complete with readings and a Q & A with the authors of three different works. All authors have connections to our area so the evening will truly be in support of local talent from a local publishing house, Black Moss Press.

There Will Be Fish by Peter Hrastovec Lucien & Olivia by André Narbonne (novel) The Marshwood Songs by Nick Hildenbrand and Jovan Stefanov

Email or phone 226-906-8311 or reserve your spot for this live, in-store event.


Senior Savings Day Tuesdays - EXTENDED!

Our senior readers have expressed so much appreciation for our Senior Savings Tuesdays that we've decided to extend the special outside of the month of March. So every Tuesday seniors (60+) can enjoy a 10% discount storewide! More book for your buck!


Well that's it for April - a busy month for sure!

Stay tuned for all that's coming up in the next month in and around downtown Amherstburg, here's just a sneak peek...

All month long in May - Munsch Mayhem - watch for this fun family activity taking place all around downtown businesses.

May 2 - We'll be open on Mondays again! 10-5 each week.

May 6 & 7 - Jane's Walk - an annual festival of free, community-led walking conversations inspired by Jane Jacobs.

May 14 - General Amherst High School 100th year celebration.

May 20 - Art Pop Up in the Hole in the Wall

May 20 - Open Air Amherstburg 2022 starts!

May 21 & 22 - Queen's Platinum Jubilee

May 29 - Storytime with the Maestro, Robert Franz from WSO

May 31 - River Bookshop Book Club



See you soon,

The River Bookshop Team




River Bookshop Covid Protocol Update -

effective March 21, 2022

As of Monday March 21, 2022 the government mandates regarding masking will be lifted. Here at the River Bookshop we will be proceeding with the utmost caution. We encourage those who wish to be masked to please feel comfortable doing so - staff will also remain masked for the time being. However, it will not be a requirement for shopping or attending Hole in the Wall events. We do ask that everyone strive to maintain social distancing during your time with us.

Thank you for assisting us in providing a safe and secure experience for everyone.


The River Bookshop Team