In honour of 2013's Keep Toronto Reading festival, let's revisit the past One Book selections and check out what kept Toronto reading in the last five years:
In 2012, Maggie Helwig's Girls Fall Down set the tone for readers in Toronto. Based in various parts of the city, marked by distinct Toronto hangouts, it explored themes of mental health, homelessness, belonging and the ways our bodies betray us. Helwig penned a solid novel that spurred discussions between many Torontonians.
In 2011, Judy Fong Bates introduced us to a family full of secrets in Midnight at the Dragon Cafe. In spare, intimate prose, Bates drew out the weight of culture and tradition, and the portrait of a young Chinese-Canadian girl growing up in a small Ontario town.
In 2010, More by Austin Clarke dove headfirst into issues of racial inequity and the experiences of a black immigrant woman in Toronto, 25 years in. Both personal and political, More examined the complexities of race in modern western culture.
In 2009, Glen Downie's Loyalty Management brought readers together with a collection of poems that looked at the many sides of living in this city - from the lighthearted and funny to the deeply sobering. Downie's memorable voice, unique spacing and lovely made up words ("sleepward"!) pulled together a collection suitable for those new to poetry and long-time lovers alike.
2008 kicked off the One Book festival with Michael Redhill's Consolation. This title slipped between two worlds - centuries apart - that captured the memory of a young Toronto, through photographs and lived experiences.
Many of our One Book selections had Toronto as a starting point, but you can see how much the idea of what Toronto is - and who Toronto is - can change over time.
In Fahrenheit 451, Guy Montag asks: "How long is it since you were really bothered?... About something important, about something real?" Whether poetry or prose, One Book titles are chosen for the issues they bring up and the conversations they can spark all across the city.
Here's to many more One Books to come - thanks for reading, Toronto!