All Booked in May

…Well, that whole posting-once-a-month resolution hardly panned out as planned, did it? To be fair, a lot has been happening. I travelled to the UK in February (more on that trip to come), started a new job, and figured my living habits for the next year. With all that happening, I couldn’t get my fingers or my brain to concentrate for long enough to get words out when I sat down to write.

But I’m here and itching to get back on track with my posting schedule. Luckily enough, May has been an eventful month for books. Here’s what I got up to.

The Festival of Literary Diversity (FOLD)

If you read my post here on the first year of the festival, you’ll know it was fantastic. There was no question that I would be attending again this year.

My friends and I were at the Peel Art Gallery Museum + Archives bright and early for the first Saturday session, On My Mind. Farzana Doctor facilitated this discussion on writing and mental health with authors Eden Robinson, Danielle Daniel, and Leah Piepzna-Samarasinha to explore ideas of catharsis, connection, courage, and the importance of portraying the messiness of real human relationships in their writing. Next, in Wonder Women, Sarah Raughley, Kai Cheng Thom, and M-E Girard talked about the different considerations they had when exploring femininity, language as empowerment or entrapment, and the use of fantasy, all to the tune of Shoilee Khan’s thoughtful prompts. After an extended lunch, I dipped into Jen Sookfong Lee’s workshop, Plotting Your Novel, where she served up some seriously practical advice on how to think of a novel as a balance of macro and micro stories, and the types of questions you should be asking yourself as you plan out your book.

My TBR list was growing with each session, but we visited the bookshop too late and many smarter, more decisive attendees had snapped up a few of the titles I had been eyeing. However, I did get a copy of Eden Robinson’s Son of a Trickster, which I’ve been wanting for a few weeks now. Jen’s plotting advice really impressed me, so I also picked up The Conjoined — it’s a chilling premise and I’m curious to see how she tackles it.

Covers for Son of a Trickster by Eden Robinson and The Conjoined by Jen Sookfong Lee.

Toronto Comic Arts Festival

The weekend after the FOLD, I popped down to the Toronto Reference Library for the Toronto Comic Arts Festival (TCAF). The reference library is a huge venue but TCAF has been growing larger and larger every year. Even with booths splaying across 3 of the library’s 4 storeys, it was absolutely teeming with eager comic readers. After about 3 hours we were exhausted and hadn’t even seen everything! While I like seeing more mainstream artists (meeting Kate Beaton a few years ago was a dream), my favourite part of the festival is finding newer Canadian comic artists and cute, funny zines. I picked up False KneesA Guide to Understanding Bird Behaviour, four-panel comics of the awkward and clueless birds of Kitchener-Waterloo, along with Rosena Fung‘s Eating Time Comics, which features some serious instant ramen hacks and general food-frolicking. I really liked Rosena’s Streetcar Greeting postcard, and picked up the rose print by San Francisco–based Minnie Phan.

Toronto Comics Arts Festival haul: Eating Time and Streetcar Greeting by Rosena Fung, A Guide to Understanding Bird Behaviour by False Knees and rose print postcard by Minnie Phan.

Doors Open Toronto

If you love architecture or you’re a bit of a snoop like me, then Doors Open Toronto can be the best way to investigate buildings that you might not visit otherwise. Last year, I learned about sugar production at the Redpath Sugar Refinery and visited historic Fort York for the first time. This year, this blogTO article tipped me off to the Great Library inside Osgoode Hall and I knew I had to check it out. This is the largest private law library in Canada and is comprised of two rooms, the American Room and the Main Reading Room. The former boasts dark wood shelves and a narrow upper gallery reached via a corkscrew staircase, while the latter is even more grand in its scale and ornamentation. Unless you’re free during regular working hours, the library is really only readily available to members of the Law Society of Upper Canada. So it was a special treat to explore these beautiful and functional spaces.

I didn’t realize how bookish the month of May had gotten for me until I took a hard look at my calendar. But that makes sense, what with the ability to read outside again, spring book releases, and stocking up on reading material for summer holidays. I definitely have a lot of reading to look forward to in the next few months!

So, what kind of bookish activities did you get up to this month?