Book Review: Stories from the Vinyl Cafe by Stuart McLean

Vinyl CafeBook Title/Author: Stories from the Vinyl Cafe by Stuart McLean
Publisher/Year: Published 2009 by Penguin Canada (first published January 1st 1995)
Genre: Fiction, Stort Stories, Humour
Series: Book 1 of 7 Vinyl Cafe books; 2 additional related works
Format: Softcover
Source: Owned

View on Goodreads


Like an old friend who’s turned up in town, Stuart McLean returns with Stories from the Vinyl Cafe, his bestselling collection of tales based on his enormously popular Vinyl Cafe radio program. The collection features Canada’s much-loved fictional family: Dave, Morley, Stephanie and Sam. Stories from the Vinyl Cafe also introduces a host of other wonderfully imagined characters, such as Margaret Dwyer, a suburban housewife who startles herself by shoplifting a pepperoni sausage, and Flora Perriton, who is consumed with thoughts of lost opportunities when an old friend passes away. Then there’s Ed, who-overcome by the death of his favourite rock star — embarks on a pilgrimage to New York City to meet the singer’s widow.” (Goodreads)




This was my first Vinyl Cafe experience, I had not listened to the radio show before reading this book. Having not listened to the radio show, I believe that I was not as invested as delighted as I could have been if I did listen before I read.

I found it difficult to get invested in the characters when there wasn’t a core plot line. I found myself also spending much of my time trying to link the stories together, thinking that they were interrelated, rather than allowing myself to just turn my brain off and just be immersed in the story itself.

The top 3 stories that I got the most enjoyed out of were:

  1. Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  2. Stanley
  3. Skunks

Because this book is set of short vignettes, it’s a good book to have on your person if you have the opportunity for short reading spurts (e.g. waiting for the bus, traveling, waiting for an appointment).

If you’re new to Vinyl Cafe, I think it would be wise to have a listen to the Vinyl Cafe radio show on CBC first, seems like those who have heard the radio show are more invested into the characters.  An alternative recommendation that would have made this book experience more fun: to it read aloud with a friend or loved one.   I would have probably enjoyed this book more if I were reading it on a road-trip.

Experience Vinyl Cafe for yourself, check out these links:


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