Authors, audiences Keep Toronto Reading

Three ladies sat in the basement auditorium of the S. Walter Stewart library branch in East York one day last month, discussing mystery novels while waiting for a visiting author to arrive.

They were taking advantage of the “eh List” author series, a featured event of the sixth annual Keep Toronto Reading Festival.

Among the three was a newcomer to mystery novels, Barbara Anderson.

Anderson lives in East York and has recently retired. She worked for a hospital for 30 years, and now one of her hobbies is reading mystery novels. She learned of the event through a brochure and spoke about the importance of reading.

“I always try to read, but before I retired I was so busy at work, we really didn’t have a chance to sit down to read,” Anderson said. “The idea is that now that I’m retired, I have more time to read and can enjoy what I’m reading. I’ve become a lot faster, so I think it’s a great way to keep your brain active.”

Eric Wright at the S. Walter Stewart library branch. (Eric Wright at the S. Walter Stewart library branch.)

Eric Wright was the author of the night. He is one of Canada’s major crime writers and came to the library to read from his latest book, A Likely Story.

Torontonians of every age and skill level were celebrating the joy of reading in April — when the Toronto Public Library (TPL) and various sponsors spearheaded the Keep Toronto Reading Festival across the city.

Each year, the festival boasts a new theme. This year’s theme is the transformative power of books.

Since 2008, the TPL’s internal committee has selected one book each year for a citywide book club. The goal of the committee is to select a book with a theme that resonates with Torontonians. This year, the One Book campaign selection was Midnight at the Dragon Café by Judy Fong Bates.

Tina Srebotnjak is the manager of Cultural and Special Event Programming for the TPL.

“It’s an accessible read and beautifully written,” Srebotnjak said. “I think the joy of reading is one of those things that every single person can be involved in.”

There were more than 80 events at 40 library branches across Toronto. At the S. Walter Stewart library, head librarian Jean Kowalewski discussed the branch’s participation in the festival.

“Every year we are involved in the citywide events and every year we try to have some events in the branch as well,” Kowalewski said. “People are really interested in the festival and everyone is eager to read the book for the One Book campaign.”