“Books contain the answer to the question ‘What makes us human?’” says the oft-philosophical co-owner of Words Worth Books, Mandy Brouse. “Books are our greatest sources of wisdom about ourselves and the world we inhabit.” With thoughts like these, it’s a good thing she spends her time in the coolest independent book store in Waterloo Region.
Words Worth Books in Uptown Waterloo has some pretty cool staff and they do some pretty cool stuff. Mandy, along with co-owner Dave Worsely, plan several literary events each year. They bring in big league stars and literary up-and-comers, giving special attention to local authors. “In the last year, our region has seen three local authors nominated for or win national awards: Erin Bow, Carrie Snyder and Tamas Dobozy,” Mandy says with obvious pride. “The talent in our region is astounding; we can’t help but promote that energy in our community.”
On the shelves, Mandy is proud to stock Canadian authors. “I’d sooner pick up a new book by a Canadian author than anyone else as Canadian writing is where we find the particulars of our shared cultural identity,” she says. Mandy is a bit of a deep thinker and being in the middle of a place that has become a vital part of the region’s cultural fabric is perfect for her. “Literary culture is a way of telling the world over and over that we are able and willing to function on a higher level of thinking and feeling,” she says. “I love that because of my connection to Words Worth I get to be part of that.”
Book lovers are naturally drawn to Words Worth and Mandy likes to find customers lurking about the poetry section. It doesn’t happen often, but to her it signals a kindred reader. She also likes the satisfaction of figuring out the more obscure customer requests such as, “It’s got a blue cover and it was on a shelf over there last fall.”
A couple of years ago, Mandy was recognized as the Best Young Bookseller in Canada and got to hang out with the Governor General, David Johnston, at the Governor General Literary Awards. “I was thrilled to meet Shelagh Rogers as she has done so much for the literary arts in Canada and meeting David Johnson was an honour while a bit surreal,” she says. “I had a wonderful time both evenings and am grateful for the experiences working at Words Worth have given me.”
Outside of the store, Mandy is a local arts and culture evangelist. “This is my home town and I want it to be an amazing place to live, work and play,” she says. “I’m that person on the megaphone yelling at people to go see this new play or to check out an art exhibit before it closes. This region has so much to offer and I want people to share my excitement.”
You can keep up with Mandy’s literary faves and store news over here.
P.S. Mandy’s favourite topic of conversation: funny stories from people’s childhoods.
P.P.S. Because this is the most obvious thing you want to know: Tucked away at home, Mandy will happily dig into some science fiction or Shakespearean plays. Yup, she’s just that kind of gal.