I had intended to post a Pride booklist, but there’s something else I want to talk about in this post-Pride blog entry: an experience that made me super-excited about a bookstore for the first time in a good long while.
Oh, I’ve been excited about books at a bookstore, books I have the opportunity to buy or can’t wait to read. But this time, it’s the bookstore worth getting excited about.
Glad Day Books on Yonge Street in Toronto has been operating since 1970 and calls itself “the world’s oldest LGBTQ bookshop”. I’ve been there before this week’s Pride festivities: it’s crammed wall-to-wall with LGBT-themed literature of every type, from coffee table volumes to joke books to sexy romance novels to academic tomes. Some of its offerings are hot off the presses, and others have been around for awhile.
It’s been one of my gold-star shopping destinations in the city of Toronto since I discovered it last January. A horror-movie-loving friend and I delightedly discovered our one and only gay-horror DVD (a psychological thriller called You Belong To Me) there a while ago. They’ve helped me get through about half my Christmas shopping already and it’s barely July.
But here’s what I didn’t know about Glad Day (just about Freudian-slipped there and typed Glad Gay). That door in their front alcove doesn’t lead to a staff room or a broom closet. They have a third floor space for presentations, parties, and readings. That means they’re more than just a retailer of books with a LGBT theme; they’re also a shared space that brings the Toronto community together. Come check them out! Patronize them whenever you can!
I dragged myself out of bed and onto the subway extra early this past Saturday to attend a reading entitled ‘Fiction with Friction’, featuring three key authors writing on LGBT themes and – in my expert opinion – doing a damn fine job of it. They deserve a tip of the hat here, in return for the fine free reading they presented as part of the Pride celebration.
- Grace Flahive (check out her hilarious future-bio on Amazon) kicked it off with readings from her debut novel Rocketry Absurdand an in-progress work, both dealing with this generation’s search for meaning and a modern lifestyle that does not deliver.
- Debra Anderson followed up with Code White, a close-up look into the world of a lesbian who finds herself on the psych ward after a manic episode. The short passage she selected to read aloud seethes with humour and erotic tension, and promises an engaging read in the full novel.
- Liz Bugg, who gives a dramatic reading like she should be on Broadway, followed with a few vivid story clips from her latest Calli Barnow detective story, Oranges and Lemons, about money and murder at a Bay Street advertising firm. (Did I mention that the Calli Barnow mysteries are all set in Toronto? Nothing like a hometown tale.) I loved feeling like I could relate to the story’s butch detective, even as a frilly-dress-wearing straight girl. Now that’s a mark of a talented author.
And just in case that wasn’t enough of a draw, they had a massive book-sale blowout in honour of Pride. I picked up two brand-new hardcovers – yes, hardcovers! – for only $2 each. I think it may have rather broken the sellers’ hearts to give away some of their exciting wares so cheaply, but there’s no way I could’ve afforded them otherwise. I will have to go back and lovingly buy something full-price to make up for it.
These are no corporate-head-office drones, I might add. They’re fun, friendly, and chatty, and they’re definitely willing to go an extra step to help out their clientele, even holding an item for a month for me because it was buried in storage on the day I happened by. Talk about customer service! They know me there as P-Town Sara, but I can’t explain why without ruining somebody’s surprise. Perhaps later.
Keep on top of this place. With events during Pride and far beyond, plus a great focus on community involvement, a drive to connect writers with readers, and new LGBT books coming in all the time, they’re more than just another cookie-cutter bookseller.