Cristina's Library

Joie de livres

Tag: 2011

Two thousand (and eleven) memories

Today, I opened a Baci chocolate that said, on the little slip of paper wrapped snugly around it, “Love can hope where reason would despair.” Heckle me all you want, but I love to indulge in fortune cookies, horoscopes, messages from sidewalk graffiti, ghostly superstition, and the mysterious shapes of clouds at opportune moments. And because of these guilty pleasures, I believe that little Baci chocolate is a startlingly accurate summary of the past year, and a good projection of what’s to come. 2011 has shown me that logic, reality, finance, and reason take a backseat when passion is driving you. This is the mentality that I always want to carry with me.

With the close of 2011 comes a feeling of relief and anticipation. This year has felt like what I often refer to as a “buffer” book in a series – the one needed to explain backstories, flesh out ideas or plans, tie up loose ends, and set up the drama for the final book. Think Half-Blood Prince, or Catching Fire. So much has happened this year! There were many downs, but many more ups.

The good points shine out in my memory, vivid and sharp, a slow-motion mélange of images – graduating from university, completing a post-grad program and a publishing internship, living downtown, midnight dinners, friendships made, plans laid, good nights, new sights, New York City. It all feels so long ago, and just like yesterday, at the same time.

My friend, Ikhlas, wrote a precise and beautiful blog post on the question many of us hate to answer — “What is it that you do?” She lists seamstress, artist, and magician. I’ll add another of my own to the list: dreamer. All of my dreams come true in my imagination…and on paper. The most concrete things I learned this past year, in school and in life, have been about myself. I want to write. I want to travel more.

I’m looking forward to 2012…something tells me it’s going to be a fantastic, scary year. But all things beautiful are equally terrifying. When I asked my dad if he thought the world would end next year, he replied, “It already has. Everyone’s living for the wrong reasons.” How right he is. I feel little worry about Nostradamus/Mayan predictions – that’s one prophechy I don’t subscribe to. The Earth is stronger than any of us. Though our own society may be crumbling, the world is just fine. It’s the people that need to change. It’s us that need to understand the universe we live in, and all the ones that we create. Here’s to life, love, happiness, and doing it all for the right reasons.

Happy New Year, everyone.



Word on the Street, 2011

The word on the street is that people really love books. A lot.
It was so wonderful to see this, and the joy that reading brings to people, at this year’s Word on the Street. The comforting sound of ruffled pages, excited chatter, scolding parents, and good old-fashioned book-bartering brought a smile to many faces. Kids and adults alike sprawled on the grass in Queen’s Park and U of T, drinking in the sunlight, gleefully peeling corn-on-the-cobs and balancing ketchup-laden hot-dogs with bags of books. Kids and tweens raced from booth-to-booth, flipping through picture books, paperbacks, and classics, begging their parents to buy them — “Pleeeeeeeaaase, mom!” Teens strolled nonchalantly, maintaining an air of uber-coolness, but unable to mask their thrill after picking up the latest in the Pretty Little Liars or Nine Lives of Chloe King series for a sweet 30% off. Spontaneous audiences clapped and cheered at the amazing street magician, ooh-ing and aah-ing at the right moments. Word on the Street was fun and enjoyable for all.
HarperCollins definitely stole the show at the Queen’s Park/University Ave. junction, offering backlist titles at $2 – $3, as well as a seriously energetic team that drew in the crowds. It was dramatic. I actually stood outside the tent to watch for a few seconds (I was volunteering on the Frontlist side). Like bees to honey, people stood on their tiptoes to see what was there, shouting their orders to loved ones closer to the table. Hands and arms flailed madly around the red-and-white striped circus tent, stealthily snaking through the throng of bodies, trying to reach the books. It was mayhem.
Wonderful, absolute mayhem.
Simon & Schuster, The Labyrinth, BMV, Between the Lines, and Cormorant also topped my list on great booths to peruse — great deals, interesting titles, and friendly people! There were Canadian magazines and newspapers, including the Toronto Star, which had beautiful photos of vintage Toronto and The Walrus, where you could get a year’s subscription for only $20 — and a free bag!
Unfortunately, I didn’t have a chance to visit any of the stages, but I bought 10 books and spent about $30. How is that even possible? AND I got some freebies. Which, as we know, is the best part of any street festival. A few of the titles I picked up included Palo Alto by James Franco, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, Exit the Actress by Priya Parmar, Strangers in Paris (an anthology by Tightrope Books), a collection of Thomas Hardy poems, Dubliners by James Joyce, and a collection of Spanish poetry during the Renaissance — I have varied tastes, as you can tell. I can’t wait to start reading!
The best thing I saw at Word on the Street? It was 5pm and I was sitting on a patch of grass outside Victoria College near Avenue & Bloor, trying to organize the disaster that was my bundle of bags, when I noticed him.  A homeless man walked towards Bloor, his face turned up to the sun, occasionally drumming his hand against the yellow metal fence barricading the street. He held a small plastic bag. And inside, I could make out the rectangular shape of a single paperback. Just one. It likely cost everything he gathered in his hat that day — even if it was only a couple of dollars. He seemed to be in his own world, maybe a little crazy, but he was, undeniably, content.
He had something to read later.