A bookstore for avid readers and the unusually bookish, for browsers and meanderers, for independent minds and spirits.
Come and browse in our lovely bookstore in Calgary’s revitalized Beltline District. You just might find the book you’re looking for, but you’ll also find books that you haven’t seen anywhere else.
Shelf Life Books began in 2010 as the brainchild of two old friends, William Lawrence and JoAnn McCaig, who shared a love of books and reading. Will, a history buff and experienced retailer, and JoAnn, a writer and former English professor, agreed that Calgary needed an independent bookstore downtown and worked hard to fill that need.
Shelf Life Books inhabits the Fourth Street building that many Calgarians fondly remember as the home of the gay bar Parkside Continental, which operated from 1973 to 1986. Other Calgarians may recognize the building as the one that sits behind Evelyn Grant’s familiar sculpture Counting Crows, which was installed in 2001. The building’s landmark status evolved further when, in 2019, Kyle and Derek Simmers painted a mural on the back wall as part of Calgary’s annual BUMP (Beltline Urban Murals Project) Festival in 2019.
In October 2020, Shelf Life Books celebrated its tenth anniversary. Shelf Life Books has been warmly welcomed by the Calgary reading and writing community since first opening its doors. Many important writers have appeared at our store, including Will Ferguson, Rudy Wiebe, the Minimalists, Jap Blonk, Vivek Shraya, bill bissett, Malcolm Mooney, Chris Turner, Sharon Butala, Sheri-D Wilson, and chef Matty Matheson. Shelf Life Books also prides itself on its community engagement and events programming, and many of Calgary’s local writers read and browse here on the regular.
Something is always happening at Shelf Life Books. We host events weekly with local or visiting authors, as well as book clubs, open mics, storytelling and discussion groups. We also support local authors and carry a good selection of their work.
We take special orders and enjoy talking to our customers about books. Let us know what you're reading or if there's a title we should keep on our shelves. Ask our staff for recommendations or browse our picks online.
Sign up in-store to earn points on every dollar you spend to accumulate in-store credit. Online accounts collect points automatically.
We at Shelf Life Books acknowledge that we are on the lands of the Treaty 7 People:
We also walk in the footsteps of the Metis People from Region 3, Metis Nation of Alberta.