Kitchissippi Reads: A special blend of mystery and fantasy for John Thompson

By Judith van Berkom – 

“I’m doing something I’m qualified to do,” says John Thompson, sole proprietor of The Record Centre on Wellington Street West. John has always been passionate about vinyl records and has amassed an extensive collection over decades at his home. He’s just been waiting for the rest of the world to catch up. The Record Centre evolved out of his love and passion for vintage audio. His store offers a large jazz section, but also has some classical, rock, and metal and sells the equipment to play vinyl.

Photo of John Thompson by Al Goyette.
Photo of John Thompson by Al Goyette.

In 2011, John took over the business from a friend in a very small space which he shared with another business owner. In 2014, he moved next door to the former hair salon and created his own space. He has worked with the same staff since he opened the store – one full-time person and several part timers.

John’s business card advertises ‘buying well cared for record collections & quality used audio gear.’ From a vintage record centre specializing in jazz, John has since expanded his scope and now hosts live performances by local and visiting musicians. He has also created his own little record label, which has released 20 records by local musicians so far.

And he is an avid reader. John was a little bit of a mystery guy – having read all of Ian Rankin’s books – but now he’s more into science fiction. He’s also interested in re-reading books that have been really good in the past.

“Every now and again there’s a book I want to reread – it’s almost a gift of forgetting enough of it,” says John. “I think I want to re-read a book and I’ll know right away if it’s not the time.”

John is just about ready to re-read Weave World, by Clive Barker, which is more fantasy. The kind of fantasy he enjoys is something that can occur in our world.

John’s choices of summer reading material also includes Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne, which he recently saw referenced somewhere and realized he’d never read. “It’s a nice, easy read,” he says.

His second choice is a Japanese writer, Haruki Murakami’s A Wild Sheep Chase. Murakami’s books have been translated in over 50 different languages. John has read most of them but says he’s not for everyone. It took him awhile to get used to his writing but what he loves about Haruki is how well he captures Japanese culture. “He’s super interesting, unconventional, very underground,” says John.

His third choice is a book he read 15 years ago and wants to re-read. “It’s the best book I’ve ever read,” he says. The Secret History by Donna Tartt, is in the mystery genre but is not structured as a mystery per se. It opens with a murder but is not really about a murder. “It’s a really good story and centres on a group of highly intelligent university students who are on the outside,” John says.

John’s reading habits have changed since he started to read on his iPad. He almost always has a book on the go and is able to read during the day at work or evenings at home where he and his wife have a designated reading room.

This post is part of our annual summer reads issue. Read all of our 2017 profiles right here.


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