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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!

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