A brief history of book stores in Montego Bay

It started with Sangster’s Stationary and Henderson’s Book Store for textbooks in primary school and high school. They sold Literature books and novels, too. Sangster’s has two branches in town. Henderson’s is attached to a pharmacy.

There was Books and Things across the street from my high school; it’s been there since before I can remember. Changed hands once or twice, I’m not sure, but Mobay High girls could always be found there after school spending their lunch money on paperback romances (that I’d borrow rather than buy). They’re still there, peddling used books to all and sundry. And making tidy profits as well, I’d wager.

Down the road from school was the epitome of book stores, the great Novelty Trading Company. Despite claims otherwise from the parent store in Kingston, the Montego Bay branch would sell books retail to walk-in customers. Which was probably part of the reason they shut down. Pity. The memory of walking into that place and seeing bookshelves stacked floor to ceiling in a warehouse-sized enclosure will stay with me forever. It smelled like heaven, too.

Recently, Bookland has moved in near to where Novelty used to be and so far they seem to be doing well. The ambience is without par, really. I don’t think even Bookophilia (Kingston) can compare to their flowing layout and at home decor.

Even more recently at Whitter Village in Ironshore, Island Bookstore has sprung into existence. Being so far out of town, it’s ideal for the readers who don’t live in/around Montego Bay but who still want a quick reading fix. They’ve added a used books section since the last time I visited.

The most recent addition is a little indie book store hidden away in downtown Montego Bay selling used books of all varieties and genres for fairly inexpensive prices. Deus Books and Auxillaries is less than a year old, but shows a lot of promise. It’s just that the book market in Mobay isn’t exactly conducive to the forward-thinking seller. “Readers” know what they want and they’re not really willing to give anything new a try. I only hope this place survives; I’ve gotten quite attached to it.

Disclaimer: I didn’t include pharmacies on purpose because they all sell the same novels anyway.

Do you have a favourite book store?


ETA: Since writing this post, Deus Books and Auxillaries has closed its operations on Barnett Street. If I find out that they’ve moved, I’ll update this post letting you know. 

Mobay Food: The Soup Kitchen

Hungry yet?

In what is hopefully only the start of a series of ‘Why Montego Bay is Awesome’, I’ll be reviewing the restaurant on 8 Barnett St.: The Soup Kitchen.

The Soup Kitchen might daylight as a simple hardware store, but between the hours of noon and 5pm every Tuesday to Thursday (and noon to 8pm on Fridays), this unassuming restaurant is dishing up delicacies like Spaghetti & Chicken Cacciatore and Chicken Alfredo (affectionately dubbed Chicken Jamfredo) with penne pasta.

TL;DR reasonable prices, continental variety and good-sized servings = one great restaurant

Barely more than a year old, The Soup Kitchen already has a dedicated cache of patrons with companies and individuals ordering lunch on a daily basis. Did I mention they deliver? The restaurant also gets more than its fair share of walk-ins, catering to a crowd that is hungry for more than the tired fare of foods deep fried in grease and fat. It really is a higher culinary experience.

With a menu as varied as its clientèle, The Soup Kitchen serves its trademark Bar-B-Fried Chicken alongside cultural favourites like curried goat, escoveitched fish and brown stewed chicken. All meals served with choice of white rice or rice and peas. The Soup Kitchen offers a full dining complement with appetizers like mannish water and desserts like bread-and-butter pudding (and if you’ve never had it, trust me, you’re missing out). Even the beverage options are enticing – who can resist natural juice flavours like otaheite apple, cucumber and an expertly blended cucumber-fruit-punch mix?

So is it gauche to mention prices? I’m not sure what the social etiquette is for restaurant reviews. But price shouldn’t count when it comes to good food, right? Wrong. At least, I care a lot about prices when I’m being advertised to.

Soup Kitchen prices generally range from $350 to $700 JMD (with the more expensive stuff, like shrimp, being offered less often). They’ve also begun to offer a smaller lunch deal for $250. The regular sized lunch is pretty impressive too (I can’t finish it at one sitting, but then again I eat like a bird).

If you are ever in Montego Bay and if there are any Montegonians reading my blog, you don’t have to despair about finding proper food. The Soup Kitchen’s got you covered. :)