Nicola Macnaughton (left) & Shannon Macnaughton. Photo: Nora Hanako

A new romance-only bookstore provides pages of escape and builds community 

When sisters Nicola and Shannon MacNaughton opened Slow Burn Books, a romance-only bookstore in Marda Loop’s trendy Henry Block shopping district, they didn’t anticipate the outpouring of community support
they would receive. 

“We had our launch on May 6, 2023, and it was amazing,” says Shannon. “There was a line out the door for almost eight hours — even though it was raining.” 

Indeed, Shannon says that romance is certainly having a moment right now, perhaps because of the need for escape that was heightened during the pandemic. 

“Knowing that ‘happily ever after’ is coming, even with all the terrible things an author can put you through, gives you comfort,” says Shannon. “People needed that happiness.”

Encouraging that desire for escape while fostering a sense of community has inspired the sisters to host a range of events, from midnight release parties to book signings. 

Last month, Slow Burn Books held their first book club — registration filled in 10-minutes. 

“A lot of readers are introverts,” says Shannon. “But when you are around people reading the same thing as you, you don’t need to pretend. You can just talk about what you’ve read.” 

While the February book club is already full, Shannon suggests signing up for Slow Burn’s mailing list and keeping an eye on their social media
(@slowburn.booksyyc) for news of March’s club registration — which should be released in mid-February. The book club takes place at Marda Loop Brewing on the third Wednesday of every month. 

Slow Burn Books, 115, 1934 34 Ave. S.W.,