Book Season

The leaves have turned beautiful colours, school is back in full swing and the book season is upon us. There are some really amazing titles coming out this time of year, and what better way to find out about these great titles then to attend a book event!

The Word on the Street is one of the biggest book events in Canada, happening each year at the end of September. This is the place readers can meet their favorite authors and pick up some hot, new titles. The U of T Bookstore folks were lucky enough to be there and see the crowds line up for Yann Martel as he signed copies of Life of Pi and Beatrice and Virgil. At the Kid’s Tent the Witches were a huge hit and taught us exactly what it is Witches can do.

For the more academically inclined, there was the book launch of Karen Mulhallen‘s book Blake in Our Time. The launch took place at Victoria College’s E.J. Pratt Library, where the G.E. Bentley Blake Collection is housed. It’s hard to imagine that these beautiful sketches are almost 200 years old. The collection is free and open to the public and is definitely worth the trip to one of the University’s most stunning libraries.

There are some great book events coming up. Check out the event calendar for a detailed schedule. One of the many events I’m looking forward to is hosted by the Centre for the Study of the United States at the Munk Centre on November 26th. It is the launch of Tripp Evans’ biography on Grant Wood. Grant Wood, known for the American Gothic, was one of the most interesting and talented American painters of his time. And yet not a lot of people knew about the complexities that surrounded this famous figure.

There is also the Massey Lecture on October 29th which I’ll mention in more detail in my next post. This year, for the first time ever, the Massey Lecture will be based on a novel. Have you had a chance to read this book yet?

And for those of you who are wondering what’s going on at the bookstore, make sure to check out our Reading Series. Our next event is November 4th!



Reading Series: Win Tickets to Memoirs in May, May 18, 2010

Email to enter to win a double pass to the intimate Memoirs in May event:

Reading Series:  Memoirs in May - Judy Fong Bates, Sarah Hampson, John Doyle, James Fitzgerald

Video: Bill McKibben and Margaret Atwood for the Launch of Eaarth

View the full set of videos.

Bill McKibben, eaarth

As part of the Reading Series, Bill McKibben’s new book, eaarth was launched to a sold out crowd at U of T Bookstore 

Bill McKibben's, eaarth

 last night.  Margaret Atwood had a conversation on stage with him.  There are only about a dozen books left in the store today – I think almost everyone bought one. 

Before the event started a man ran into the store and desperately wanted to purchase McKibben’s book because he had heard him speak on CFRB and Canada AM earlier that day.  We asked him if he’d like to leave it with us and we’d have it signed for him, but he said, “No, I just really need to read it”.  Need.  

Need indeed. 

All of us need to read Bill McKibben’s book, eaarth.  It’s written for a general audience (meaning, while it’s full of facts it doesn’t read like an essay, technical journal or a manual).  In fact, it’s dripping with sarcasm, with ideas never thought of – such as the impact the environment has on the psyches of war torn countries and sooo, so much more.  eaarth is not about changing our light bulbs – it’s bigger than that, it’s about needing to ask governments to change environmental legislation and not renege. 

Well, I needed to read it before the event yesterday.  I was the MC for the night.  I raced through Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake and The Year of The Flood – they were great reads, as we usually come to expect from Margaret Atwood.  I read the advanced reading copy of eaarth last.  I have to admit the reason I had read it last was that I thought it was going to be a daunting affair, that my brain, being more artsy than science-based, wouldn’t be able to fully comprehend, that I’d have to sit beside my computer to look stuff-up. I knew Bill had a huge following and that he was the top dog at, but I thought the book would be about proverbial “flux capacitors.”    

Well, as fate would have it – I needed to read that book.  It was a great read, chocked with things that have made me see the world around us a lot and I mean a lot differently. I was absorbed in the book, like a child full of wonder.  The week before I read eaarth, I wouldn’t have thought twice about the weather in Toronto, last week.  Now I think, last weekend I wore shorts, during the week I carried an umbrella for three days rain and then yesterday, the day environmentalist, Bill McKibben was in the store it snowed.  The “creative” side of my brain couldn’t have thought up that type of punctuation to begin my intro on stage when he covers things like that in his book. 

Previously, I skimmed through the “environment-type” issues in The Metro, on my commute in to Toronto on the Go Train.  There seems to be information overload on environmental stories, like health stories – what to eat, what to do, what not to do, wine is good for you, wine is bad for you type stories.  Last week, on one day in the paper there were two big environmental issues… 

“The death toll hits 100 in Brazil from rains and mud slides – the heaviest deluge on record.  In our own Toronto city, Grassy Narrow, residents came 1800 kilometres to march in front of the legislature because, and I quote, “the water has stopped flowing in a clean way and it has become our poison.  Mercury poisoning in the First Nation is worse than in the late 60s, early 70s when a paper mill dumped the equivalent of 9-thousand kilograms of mercury into the Wabogoon River.  McKibben’s book speaks to what big business has done in regards to mercury and how it affects the planet as we know it. 

I’m not saying I would have not read the stories in the paper – I like to keep up on current events.  What I am saying is how reading one book, that I needed to read for work, changed my thoughts.  Look what we’ve done to our world.  Global warming does exist and those 100 people in Brazil may be alive today if we didn’t have more rain.  Grassy Narrow residents are fighting for what we in Toronto take as fact…we turn on the tap and clean water comes out. We did this, government policy did this. 

I needed to read this book, I needed to see the world differently – I needed to change.