I Totes Love It: Anatomy of a Canvas Tote Bag

My experience at BookExpo (more specifically, my experience trying to get 3 bags completely crammed full of books from Hell’s Kitchen back to my house in Connecticut) made me see the light on the importance of a well-designed, nicely structured canvas tote bag. Yes, the one I brought with me received approximately 50+ “Where did you get that???”s (and, subsequently, a lot of disappointed looks when they realized I hadn’t just been handed it by some tote-toting publisher) made me smile when I looked it. But designed for that kind of haul… it was not. The giant, monogrammed heavy-duty tote my husband had given me years ago was a little better. But its general shape lent to some awkward maneuvers akin to The Funky Chicken as I tried to keep it slung over my shoulder.

The winner? A flat-bottomed Cooking With Zac tote someone shoved into my hands (much to my appreciation) at the Rodale booth. My “uniform” consists solely of Chucks,  jeans, and a t-shirt, so I couldn’t tell you the first thing about Zac Posen and I don’t cook (that’s why I married my husband). But I have never been more thankful to be handed a free piece of merchandising made of canvas and thread in my entire life.

The schlep back uptown that resulted in permanent marks on my shoulders and what I assume is lifelong injury to my spinal column had me pondering the earmarks of the best canvas totes.

I believe it comes down to this:

gray read harder tote bag

  1. Wide straps: It’s just basic physics. The more surface area, the less I feel like my arm is about to be violently ripped from its socket.
  2. Reinforced seams: It’s a truth universally acknowledged… books are heavy.
  3. Sturdy canvas: On top of being heavy, books have pointy edges. Heavy duty canvas is a lifesaver.
  4. Cute/quirky book-related graphic: You may think this is unnecessary, but if I’m given another opportunity to act as a billboard for my love of reading… I’m going to take it.
  5. Dark colors: Nothing is sadder than falling in love with a canvas tote only for it to become filthy. Because I’m not a grown ass adult, I like to use tote bags as purses. It’s less cute to show up to my job in corporate America with a tote bag covered in city dirt and grime.
  6. Flat bottom: This one may be the most essential. Flat bottom = ability to fit more books into that bag. Which is a win!

Yes, I just wrote a whole post about canvas tote bags. But any reader worth their salt understands how vital this is to living your best bookish life!

We are continuing our celebration of the 20th Anniversary of the publication of Harry Potter & The Sorcerer's Stone with a giveaway of five copies of the beautiful illustration edition. Go here to enter, or just click on the illustration from the book below!
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