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?

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Nuit Blanche By the Book

This year, October 1 marks the night Nuit Blanche descends upon Toronto. A late-night exploration of installation and performance art dispersed across the city, this festival has hosted some absolutely mesmerizing pieces in the past few years that have been worth braving the large crowds and long queues to experience.

To the delight of my bibliophilic heart, there are a number of works on the 2016 lineup centred on books and storytelling. While I probably won’t be able to see them all myself, I’ve compiled some of them here in case other readers are keen to fill their white night with book art.

nb-85_05#85: 100 Libraries. 99 Books (St. Matthew’s United Church, 729 St. Clair Avenue West)

Excerpt from website: Visit 100 libraries and explore 99 books secured by chains. Bring your own book to catalog and then borrow it back. Make a mini-book. Post your nomination of a library and book special to you.

Library love with a side of DIY bookmaking? Yes, please. Each chained book in this work is representative of a different Canadian library or bookstore, and I’m curious to see which get paired together. I’ll make sure I have a book in my purse so I have one to check in to the catalogue and “borrow” again, but which one? Continue reading “Nuit Blanche By the Book”

At the Festival of Literary Diversity

Logo of The Festival of Literary Diversity
Source: http://thefoldcanada.org

May 6th to 8th was the inaugural Festival of Literary Diversity (FOLD). It was held in Brampton, Ontario, across several venues in the city’s downtown core and featured writing and educational workshops, spoken word performances, author interviews, and publishing industry panels to showcase excellent literature and authors often underrepresented in the Canadian literary landscape.

There were signs from the beginning that the FOLD was going to be great, and it was all in the way their team built anticipation and excitement. They partnered with local businesses in Brampton and created fundraisers that would get people meeting each other and fostering community. As Art Director and FOLD founder Jael Richardson has explained in interviews, it was important to center Brampton as another literary locus in the Greater Toronto Area. They held fitness classes and a 5k marathon in the city, they sold bookish t-shirts, and they had fantastic book giveaways in the weeks leading up to the festival. They created workshops and sessions just for educators and school children to discuss the craft of writing and importance of sharing one’s voice. And when an author wrote them about the lack of authors with disabilities and accessibility information, they updated their venue information online and created a new panel on diverse bodies and disability. The programming has been fun and inclusive, about folding everyone into a wider sense of literary community.
Continue reading “At the Festival of Literary Diversity”