Junction Reads

A Prose Reading Series.

March On, Readers!

The sun is shining, the clocks have jumped ahead and it kind of sort of smells like Spring out there!

Feels like it’s time for some Spring Readings! Please join us on March 29 at 5:00pm at the Anansi Book Shop, 128 Sterling Road. We’re so happy to introduce you to 4 new books to add to your shelves and the talented writers who penned them. This month, we welcome J.R. McConvey, Jess Taylor, Hannah Brown and Nur Abdi! There will be refreshments and a raffle. PWYC ($5-$10 suggestion).

J.R. McConvey is a writer and producer working in Toronto, Ontario. His stories have been shortlisted for the Journey Prize, the Bristol Short Story Prize, and the Matrix Lit Pop award, and appeared in the Malahat ReviewJoylandEVENTThe Puritan, The New Quarterly and other publications. He won the 2016 Jack Hodgins Founders’ Award for Fiction. Different Beasts is his first book and was published by Goose Lane in 2019.

Jess Taylor is a Toronto writer and poet. Her second collection, Just Pervswas released by Book*hug in Canada in September 2019. Recently, a short story from that collection, “Two Sex Addicts Fall in Love”, was long-listed for The Journey Prize and included in The Journey Prize Anthology 30. The title story from her first collection, Pauls (BookThug, 2015), “Paul,” received the 2013 Gold Fiction National Magazine Award. Jess believes that collaboration and helping other writers is an important part of her writing practice and continues to organize events in the community. She is currently working on a novel, Play, and a continuation of her life poem, Never Stop.

Born in Hastings County, Hannah Brown currently lives in the Beach neighborhood of Toronto. She is a prize-winning screenwriter with two degrees in film from York University. After a happy sojourn teaching English and film at the college and collegiate levels, she recently returned to writing full-time, and has had her work published in several literary magazines. “The Happiness” was (parenthetical) magazine’s 2016 Journey Prize entry and her short story in Superstition Review #15, “On Any Windy Day” is recommended by Emily Wilson, along with the Broadway hit, Hamilton, as a fine companion work to Wilson’s translation of The Odyssey. Brown has been invited to read at the Leeds International Festival in May of this year from her debut novel, Look After Her, published by Inanna Publications

Nur Abdi grew up in the territory now known as Somaliland. In the 1980s, when a civil war was raging in Somalia, he sought refuge in Canada and became a citizen in 1994. Opposing the repressive government ruling Somalia at the time, Abdi wrote articles in newspapers and magazines. He lives in Toronto. Published by Mawenzi House The Somali Camel Boy is his first novel.

A Leap Year just means we’ve all got one more day to read!

FEBRUARY 23, 2020

Join us for some readings at the Anansi Book Shop.

We are excited to return to the Anansi Book Shop at 128 Sterling Road for some new #Canlit prose! Our readings are a Pay What You Can event with all proceeds going to our readers. Support these great Canadian voices and we will share our cookies and brownies! There will be books for sale and you can even browse the shelves for some fantabulous Anansi reads.

Louise Ells will share extracts from her debut collection of short stories, NOTES TOWARDS RECOVERY from Latitude 46 Publishing. This collection “explores loss and the spaces around loss. At the centre of these stories are everyday women who must navigate these spaces and their shifting boundaries, often redefining themselves in the process.”

Carolyn Bennett brings her debut novel to Junction Reads. Published by Now or Never Publishing, PLEASE STAND BY takes us to a fictional radio station in Alberta with a protagonist on the brink of losing everything. This book promises to be a funny take on “CanCon, the east-west divide, and secrets that can kill.”

Laure Baudot’s debut collection of short stories is coming to Junction Reads! These stories are about the power of what goes unsaid – of the truths people keep hidden from each other, which guide their relationships and their decisions in unexpected ways. Published by Cormorant Books, we can’t wait to hear some of these “intelligent and perceptive” stories.

“Based on the true story of the Donnellys of Lucan Township, this epic novel is the iconic tale of the Old World and its sins visited upon the new.” We are looking forward to hearing Keith Ross Leckie read some extracts from this clever and enlightening take on a real life Irish Canadian family. Published by Douglas and McIntyre.

Happy New Year!! Happy Readings!!

We are thrilled to get back to the microphone with readings scheduled for January 26, February 23 and March 29!!

On January 26, we are so excited to host our readings at the Anansi Book Shop, 128 Stirling Road (Lower Level). Accessibility information is available on their website. Come early and browse the bookshelves! We will have some refreshments, coffee and tea and we’d love for you to join us for drink at Henderson Brewery afterward!

This is a PWYC event, with a suggested donation of $5.00. Feel free to throw more into the pot. All proceeds go to the authors. January 26, we welcome Maria Meindl, Sally Cooper, Dean Serravalle and David Albertyn.

A good friend of Junction Reads and host of the Draft Reading Series, Maria Meindl will be reading from her first novel, THE WORK from Stonehouse Publishing.

“When aspiring stage-manager Rebecca Weir falls for the married director of SenseInSound theatre company, she initiates a love triangle and working collaboration which go on for two decades. Set in Toronto at the start of the 1980s, the novelexplores the genesis of what its disciples call ‘The Work’. The director, Marlin, has the status of a Guru in SenseInSound, but is he pushing people’s limits or abusing his power? Is the ‘The Work’ a cutting-edge artistic practice, a road to personal healing, or a cult?”

Sally Cooper returns with her new novel, WITH MY BACK TO THE WORLD from Wolsak and Wynn. “In an ambitious, yet intimate novel set in Taos, New Mexico, and Hamilton, Ontario, Sally Cooper explores unexpected motherhood, creativity, race, love and faith. With My Back to the World tells the stories of three women: Rudie, who is editing a documentary in Hamilton in 2010; historical artist Agnes Martin, who decides in 1974 after seven years’ exile in New Mexico to begin painting again; and Ellen, a black woman burying her husband in 1870 on an Ontario homestead. Each of these women is waiting for the arrival of an unexpected child and their interconnected stories explore how society’s, and our own, ideas of what it means to be a woman, a mother and an artist change over time.”

Dean Serravalle brings his latest novel, WHERE I FALL WHERE SHE RISES from Inanna Publications. ” Where I Fall, Where She Rises is a novel that follows two women on opposite ends of a terrorist kidnapping. While one woman suffers and falls at the hands of her captors, the other exploits the fame of such a publicized event to secure a future for her unborn child. Lea Ironstone is a Canadian freelance journalist who recalls her time spent in the very dangerous red zone of Baghdad, after the 2003 U.S. invasion. A self-destructive addict, she refuses to relegate herself to the safer green zone, where most mainstream news journalists like Paul Shell are protected. Desperately seeking a more controversial story to re-establish his fame as a television journalist for GNN, Paul Shell contacts Lea and agrees to meet her in the red zone for a recent finding. They are kidnapped by an insurgent terrorist sect and tortured repeatedly. Carol Shell, Paul Shell’s wife lives in New York. Eight months pregnant, Carol is approached by Timothy Abel, her husband’s agent. Timothy wishes to represent her “victimhood,” which he sees as a very marketable and exploitable asset. Her appetite for fame and celebrity eclipses her familial priorities and she is coerced into a lifestyle that hinges on personal promotion. Lea and Paul find themselves incarcerated in a basement dungeon expecting their next “artistic” torture, while Carol makes her next public appearance to further her star. Lea and Paul’s relationship evolves into a mutual understanding of their united fate, while Carol, on the other side of the world, rises in public stature..”

David Albertyn brings us his novel, UNDERCARD published by Anansi. “When Tyron Shaw returns to his hometown of Las Vegas after eleven years in the Marines, he’s surprised to discover that two of his best friends from childhood are all anyone is talking about: Antoine Deco, three years out of prison, hasn’t lost a boxing match since his release, and tonight is fighting in the undercard to the fight of the decade; and Keenan Quinn, a police officer who killed an unarmed teenager and escaped punishment from the courts, is the subject of a protest tomorrow morning. Tyron has trouble reconciling either story with his memory of these men, and the situation escalates when he runs into the love of his life, Naomi Wilks, a retired WNBA player, basketball coach, and estranged wife of Keenan. As Tyron reconnects with his old community, he will learn over the next twenty-four hours that much has changed since he left Las Vegas . . . and there is much more that he never understood.”

2019 was a great year of reading!

Some of you may be scanning the shelves of your independent bookstores for all the Best Ofs of 2019 and wondering for whom will you gift the joy of a fantastic #CanLit book? Others (like me) may have long lists of holds at the library, desperately hoping the 70 other people could just read a little faster, already!!

If you’re looking for a great gift, look no further than here. I am going to lay out Junction Reads’ 2019 readers (with my own little personal reviews…there are links for more detailed synopses). Because I am not a fast reader and have been immersed in my own writing, some of these reviews have been extracted from conversations with friends and family. I am also not a great reviewer of books!

Check them out and consider this our very own Top 22 with a few added bonus stories thrown in at the end!!

Priya Ramsingh’s Brown Girl in the Room is a book about first generation Canadians and how that corporate ladder to the top means different things to everyone. The characters in this book have to find a way to succeed against the silence of unspoken racism (the worst kind). undefined
Adrian Michael Kelly’s The Ambassador of What from ECW Press is a collection of haunting stories that you’ll remember for a long time. Each one provokes and engages the reader and will have you asking what you might do in any one of the characters’ situations.
Full disclosure, I have not yet read Kyp Harness’ The Abandoned, but my husband has and he loved it! Partly because it is set close to his hometown, husband says this book was a very up close and personal look at a dysfunctional family and how it can really mess a kid up, but also make them the best people you’d ever want to know….or read. undefined
undefined Jan Rehner’s Almost True is about the bond of friendship. Set in France during WWII, this book is full of mystery and discovery. Discovering who these women are, and how despite their differences, their shared secrets will keep them tied together forever.
Jen Chen’s Super! is a book full of young super heroes, but the main character, Beata, proves that you don’t actually have to have super powers to take down a villain. My son loved this book! undefined
undefined Aparna Kaji Shah’s The Scent of Mogra and Other Stories . For a debut collection, this book will have you in awe of the talent and skill with which each story is crafted. Each and every female narrator is powerful and daring. Have I mentioned how much I love the short story?
Sky Curits’ TRAPS, a third in her Robin MacFarland mystery series. I have to say, Robin MacFarland is the funniest, most honest and curious woman you’ll meet in a book. Along with her BFF and crime reporter friend, Cindy, Robin struggles to solve another murder (or prove there is a murder) while also trying to love herself.undefined
undefined Rebecca Higgins’ beautiful collection of short stories, The Colour of Birds, is a gift for anyone who loves the short story. I feel so blessed to have been able to read some of these stories before they got pressed into this lovely book. Rebecca’s writing is lyrical and her characters are emotional and intelligent.
Catriona Wright’s collection of short stories, Difficult People is full of weirdos and egos and you know what? We all know someone just like any one of these people. Each one of these stories is a fun dive into the world of one misfit or another. If you don’t already love the short story, you will after reading this.undefined
undefined Mary Lou Dickinson’s The White Ribbon Man is a fantastic mystery! A dead body is found in a bathroom stall in a church basement! An incredible setting and who’d kill someone in a church!?
Loren Edizel’s Days of Moonlight was a finalist for the 2019 International Book Award and shortlisted for the Fred Kerner Book Award. Set in Turkey, Crete and Canada, it is a story of unspoken truths, love unfulfilled and how a past can be experienced through the written word.undefined
undefined There are no happy endings in John Miller’s Wild and Beautiful is the Night. Focusing on two sex workers, both addicts, we follow them as they struggle to navigate the dangers of the street and the joys in close friendships.
It was such a pleasure to meet SK Dyment’s and hear them read from Steel Animals. This book is full of punk rock eccentrics, motorcycles and a dose of queer magic realism. You will not meet a cooler bunch of folks in any other book this year!undefined
undefined Tim Conley’s Collapsible was a very fun read. I picked it up and put it down a lot because I got so much joy from so many of the stories, I spaced it out between a couple of other heavier novels. Get this for the smart, funny short story lover in your life.
Alex Boyd’s Army of the Brace and Accidental is one of those books that got us talking. A retelling of The Odyssey, it got me wondering how had I read Homer as a young person. It might make you want to go back and re-read those epic poems! undefined
undefined Pratap Reddy’s Ramya’s Treasure is an immigrant story that takes you on a journey of self-discovery. The narrator is so honest and engaging. It made me questions who I might be given the same circumstances.
Victoria Hetherington’s Mooncalves was fascinating and gripping. I love a good story about cults and doomsdayers, but this takes you on that journey and pulls you deep! It’s kind of scary to think this is based on real events! undefined
undefined Erika Rummel is the kind of writer I aspire to be! The Painting on Auerperger’s Wall is a book that is both mystery and history lesson and a story that challenges you to think of truth in a different way. When everyone’s living with their own version of it, how do you know what’s real or fake?
Lisa de Nikolits is pure joy in person and on the page. Her writing is funny, engaging and so well-paced you’ll marvel at how quickly you get sucked in. Rotten Peaches has some of the funniest characters I have ever read. It’s a noir novel and not going to lie, anybody on your list will love it. undefined
Cracker Jacks for Misfits , by Christine Ottoni, is a collection of short stories near and dear to me. I met Naomi, Marce, Jake and Joanne in workshop, long before they truly came to life in this super fun collection of stories. Get this book for a twenty-something in your life, then buy a copy and leave it on your dad’s bedside table. They’ll both thank you!
Melissa Bull’s The Knockoff Eclipse is all I want my own writing to be. All of these stories get away with some challenging endings. If you’re looking for a happily ever after kind of delivery, stick with Grimm, you won’t find any in this incredible collection. undefined
undefined Anthony De Sa‘s readings are so engaging and fun, I am always left just desperate to get home and read his books. Children of the Moon is a novel that explores De Sa’s own family’s experiences with war through the eyes of three very different characters. As the mum of a kid with a facial difference, I am always in search of a great book that provokes readers to think of the experiences of the outsiders in the world. Get this one!

We had a few great short story writers who joined us in June. Watch out for the upcoming and already published writing of Adam Giles, Victoria Alvarez and Jarrett Mazza.

Join us on January 26 at the Anansi Book Shop for the first readings of 2020! Sally Cooper, Maria Meindl, David Albertyn and Dean Serravalle will join us for 5:00pm readings. More news will be posted here soon!!

A staged reading of The Defence: an award-winning play from Damian Tarnopolsky!

We are super thrilled to kick off Junction Reads limited season, with a staged reading of Damian Tarnopolsky’s play, The Defence.

On Friday November 29, we will gather at The Village Playhouse in the heart of Bloor West Village. There will be refreshments and snacks and a few very talented actors will bring Damian’s Voaden Award-winning play to life.

There is no information available on the Village Playhouse website regarding accessibility. From my experience, there are no options for access. We apologize for the inconvenience and please know, we recognize the desperate need for this to change.

Show starts at 7:00pm sharp, so come early mingle and munch and enjoy a cuppa something warm.

The play will be performed with soft lighting. We are happy to provide an ASL interpreter, but we ask you please contact Alison with your RSVP first at

Better news than the best news! Junction Reads goes to Anansi!

I am so grateful to Baka Gallery Cafe for offering a space to Junction Reads in 2020, but the accessibility issue weighed heavily on me. Junction Reads wants to be open and welcoming to all, and so we feel truly blessed that House of Anansi has agreed to let us into their space.

So on January 26 and February 23, we have already lined up some talented authors and even better news is Anansi is going to try and stock their books!

In January, we will welcome Sally Cooper, Dean Serravalle, David Albertyn and Maria Meindl. In February, we will be joined by Louise Ells, Laure Baudot, Keith Ross Leckie and Carolyn Bennett.

Join us at 5:00pm at the Anansi Bookshop

128 Sterling Road
Toronto, Canada

Accessibility Information: 

From their website: The front door to the Anansi Bookshop is at 128 Sterling Road, with access down two steps from the sidewalk. There is an accessible entrance to our office and bookshop through the front door of 128A Sterling Road, the adjoining building, which is west of us through the parking lot, on the other side of Henderson’s Brewery. If you will use the accessible entrance please contact us at 416 363-4343 x 0 and we will meet you to show you the way in.

2019-2020 Season!

I have been working hard on finding a venue to host our readers and I may have some good news, so stay tuned for upcoming dates!

It’s hard for me to ask for money, but I will anyway. I set up a Patreon account with great hope of getting some patrons to support Junction Reads on an ongoing basis. It’s hard, I know, given most supporters of writers are readers and writers who don’t have big bucks to spare. But if you or someone you know might consider supporting the series, I’d be forever grateful!

Before the end of last season, we had already booked about ten authors! Finding a space is my number one priority!

If you’d like to add your name to our roster, get in touch today.

Season Finale: June 23

June 23, 2019. Junction Reads: Famous Last Words. 392 Pacific Ave. From 5:15pm.

We’ve got something for everyone in our final readings of the season. M.J. Cates, Anthony Desa, Melissa Bull, Victoria Alvarez and Jarrett Mazza join us for readings that can best be described as, There’s something for everyone.

Our Book Raffle is full of fantastic books by queer writers; a signed copy of Marissa Stapley’s new novel and a few from our author/readers. So bring cash!

Melissa Bull is a writer and editor, as well as a French-to-English translator of fiction, essays, and plays. She is the editor of Maisonneuve magazine’s “Writing from Quebec” column and has published her poetry, essays, articles, and interviews in a variety of publications including EventLemon HoundsubTerrainPrism, and Matrix. Her collection of poetry, Rue, was published in 2015, and her collection of short stories, The Knockoff Eclipse, was published in 2018. Her translation of Nelly Arcan’s Burqa de chair was published by Anvil Press in 2014, and her translation of Marie-Sissi Labrèche’s novel, Borderline, is forthcoming. Melissa lives in Montreal.

Jarrett Mazza is a graduate of Goddard College’s MFA in Creative Writing Program in Plainfield, Vermont. Before completing his terminal degree, Jarrett studied writing at the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies and completed the Novel Writing class at Sheridan College under award-winning writer, Melodie Campbell. He has received extensive training in fiction in all mediums, including screenwriting, comic book writing, poetry, academic writing, and craft. He has also taught in a Writer’s Craft classroom at his former high school, and at Mohawk College in the Continuing Education department, has had stories published online in the GNU Journal, Bewildering Stories, Trembling With FearAphelion, Silver Empire Publishing, which was a best-seller on Amazon, The Scarlet Leaf Review, and Toronto Prose Mill. He currently writes for the website Sequart that specializes in academic writings on comic books, fandom, and films. He is also working on a comic book pitch, writes over two-thousand words each day, reads one book each week, and constantly submits to journals, contests, and other publications. He lives in Hamilton, Ontario.

Victoria Alvarez was born in Toronto, Canada. Having grown up in a Spanish and Colombian household, she quickly became well-acquainted with hybridity at an early age. Throughout her life, she has been fascinated by stories and voices, English or Spanish, and their expression in a world deeply uncomfortable with liminal spaces. Her writing focuses on ‘in-between’ states, liminality, intergenerational transfer, and the role stories play within all our lives. Victoria just completed her MFA in Creative Writing from UBC. She will continue to reaffirm the short story because, as a form, it is reflective of her own motto in life: less is always more… more or less. 

Anthony De Sa grew up in Toronto’s Portuguese community. His short fiction has been published in several North American literary magazines. Anthony’s first book, Barnacle Love, was critically acclaimed and became a finalist for the 2008 Scotiabank Giller Prize and the 2009 Toronto Book Award. Anthony’s novel, Kicking the Sky, was set in 1977, the year a twelve-year-old shoeshine boy named Emanuel Jaques was brutally raped and murdered in Toronto.  Children of the Moon is his latest novel.
Anthony graduated from University of Toronto and did his post-graduate work at Queen’s University. He attended The Humber School for Writers and Ryerson University. He is currently a teacher-librarian living in Toronto with his wife and three boys.

MJ Cates was born in Canada, studied psychology and literature at the University of Toronto, and has lived at various times in South Kensington, North London, and Ottawa, writing many novels and winning several awards under another name. MJ is married and lives in Toronto. MJ Cates is a pseudonym for a well-published Canadian author. George Meanwell, actor, singer will be reading from INTO THAT FIRE.

May!! It’s May!!

On May 26, we will gather at Famous Last Words at 392 Pacific Ave.. The sun will be shining (at least that’s what the forecast says now) and I’m thinking, we can share our summer reading lists. What do you think? Sitting down by the lake, on a park bench or on that little balcony, what will you be diving into this summer? We can certainly recommend a few titles!

From 5:15pm we will hear readings from Victoria Hetherington with Mooncalves , Erika Rummel  with The Painting on Auerperger’s Wall, Lisa de Nikolits with  Rotten Peaches and Christine Ottoni with Cracker Jacks for Misfits!

Victoria Hetherington will read from Mooncalves from Now or Never Publishing. Her debut novel, it weaves “a tale of buried crime in rural Quebec with a post-Singularity future, Mooncalves explores the unshakable hold of first love, the warped influence of unchecked ambition and sexual obsession, and the uncomfortable gaze of the accumulating dead – especially of those who walk the earth among us.”

Adam Giles’s short fiction has appeared in a variety of literary journals, including The Humber Literary Review, Sonora Review, Riddle Fence, and The Danforth Review. His stories have been nominated for the National Magazine Awards and the Best of the Net Anthology. His story “Corduroy” won the University of Toronto Magazine Short Story Contest in 2013. He will read from his story “Nothing to See Here,” which appears in the current issue of The Feathertale Review!

Attachments area

Lisa de Nikolits returns to Junction Reads with her new novel, Rotten Peaches from Inanna Publications.. “It is a gripping epic filled with disturbing and unforgettable insights into the human condition. Love, lust, race and greed. How far will you go? Two women. Two men. One happy ending. It takes place in Canada, the U.S. and South Africa. Nature or nurture. South Africa, racism and old prejudices — these are hardly old topics but what happens when biological half-siblings meet with insidious intentions? Can their moral corruption be blamed on genetics — were they born rotten to begin with? And what happens when they meet up with more of their ilk? What further havoc can be wreaked, with devastating familial consequences?”

Christine Ottoni also returns to JR with her debut book from Exile Editions, Cracker Jacks and Misfits brings together four people, Naomi, Joanne, Marce, and Jake who navigate the world both closed and open to the possibilities of love, pain and happiness. “It’s a deeply human book… It’s about lonely people and why they’re lonely. It’s about how much a mother and daughter can love each other and how much that love can hurt.”

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