Junction Reads

A Prose Reading Series.

October Readings

I don’t know about you, but Fall is when I get most excited about books. Sure beach reading has its pluses and who doesn’t love consuming delicious books with your feet in the sand, but this is the season I’ve been waiting for.

Sitting in a chair with a blanket across my legs, I’ve got two books on the go right now. And I am so excited to talk about them!

S.M. Freedman is coming on October 17 to talk about her suspenseful THE DAY SHE DIED. It is a book that explores the deep love of childhood friendship and what it means when you feel your life falling apart.

From Dundurn Press:

After a traumatic head injury, Eve questions every memory and motive in this mind-bending psychological thriller. Eve Gold’s birthdays are killers, and her twenty-seventh proves to be no different. But for the up-and-coming Vancouver artist, facing death isn’t the real shock — it’s what comes after. Recovering from a near-fatal accident, Eve is determined to return to the life she’s always wanted: a successful artistic career, marriage to the man who once broke her heart, and another chance at motherhood. But brain damage leaves her forgetful, confused, and tortured by repressed memories of a deeply troubled childhood, where her innocence was stolen one lie — and one suspicious death — at a time. As the dark, twisted pages unfold, Eve must choose between clinging to the lies that helped her survive her childhood and unearthing the secrets she buried long ago.”

On October 24, Jessica Moore returns to Junction reads with her narrative poetry in THE WHOLE SINGING OCEAN. We don’t normally include poetry in our readings, but Jessica’s prosaic memoir is exceptional on so many levels.

From Harbour Publishing (Nightwood Editions):

“Part long poem, part investigation, this true story begins with a whale encounter and then dives into the affair of the École en bateau, a French countercultural school aboard a boat. The École was based on the ideals of ’68, but also twisted ideas about child psychology, Foucault’s philosophy and an abolition of the separation between adults and children. As more troubling details are revealed, the text touches on memory, trauma and environmental grief, ultimately leading to buried echoes from the author’s own life and family history. At the dark heart of The Whole Singing Ocean is the question: How is it possible to hold two things—rapture and pain—at once?

What year is it?

The bad news is, it is STILL 2021. The good news is, Junction Reads is back! Wouldn’t it be nice if we could fast forward to the time when we will all be back in person, sipping tea or gin, listening to authors read?

We will be online for this season. It was a difficult decision, but there is a good deal of planning that goes into the series, especially organizing a space and in person events. Without assured safety for our readers and the audience, we don’t feel it’s time to return to in-person events. We also loved last year, that with our Zoom events, we were able to welcome both audience and author from outside of the Toronto area.

On September 26, we will kick off our new season with Heidi von Palleske and her incredible novel, Two White Queens and the One-Eyed Jack. There is a lot happening for Heidi and this beautifully written novel and I cannot wait to talk about the book, writing and life. Registration links will be up soon!

Our events are more accessible online and to be honest, I’m loving that our one-on-one events allows me to read ALL the books and invest the time to really dig into the writing and the subject matter with our authors.

I hope you’ll join us this season, for some (or ALL) of our events. Check out our Upcoming Events to see who’s coming to JR this year and Follow us on EventBrite and Subscribe to our YouTube channel.

National Indigenous Peoples Day

A celebration of the heritage, diverse cultures and outstanding achievements of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples, I am happy to share a few books I think you should read.

I wish this included many more mini reviews and I am dedicated to getting my TBR list piled higher with more books by Indigenous authors. Keep in mind, I am simply not very good at summarizing my feelings about books, so I urge you to check out the authors listed here and do a little googling to find more!

Seven Fallen Feathers by Tanya Talaga. This is a heart shattering book about seven Indigenous students who were forced to attend school in Thunder Bay because there wasn’t an adequate school in their communities. Tanya is an incredible journalist and she tells the stories of these students with so much love while holding the community and the reader to account when discussing the racism, indifference and complacency surrounding the tragic deaths of these kids.

The Break by Katherena Vermette. I am about a third of the way through this book. Stay tuned for a more thorough review. This book had me hooked from page one and I won’t stop reading until I uncover the truth (not believed by the police) about the assault witnessed in the first chapter.

it was never going to be okay by jaye simpson. This book is in my #summerpoetry pile and I’ve read only a few of the pieces in this collection, but I am moved by jaye’s honesty and fearless voice. It’s a mix of poetry and prose and if you’re the kind of person who thinks poetry is inaccessible, I’ll tell you, these poems will make you feel and will force you to think.

Peyakow by Darrel J. McLeod. Mamaskatch and Peyakow are both incredible collections of the stories of Darrel’s life. I was thrilled to sit and chat with him at JR last week, and if you want a very personal perspective on what it is to grow up Indigenous in Canada, these two books are where you should start.  Check out the video of our chat here.

Son of a Trickster by Eden Robinson. I cannot recommend enough this trilogy by one of the most joyful writers! Start with Son of a Trickster, where you’ll meet Jared and his family and friends. Eden tells these stories with great humour and you’ll love every single character, even if you kind of don’t like them.

Five Little Indians by Michelle Good. Can’t say much aboutthis book because it’s in my pile and I haven’t cracked it open yet. It’s the story of five young people who were taken from their families and placed in residential schools, then discharged without any support.

Jonny Appleseed by Joshua Whitehead. I was so excited to hear this book has been optioned for the screen. I cannot wait to see Jonny’s story! This book was a fast-moving book with so much happening in a little book, you really feel Jonny’s emotional frenzy as he deals with all the feelings about returning home to attend a funeral.

Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese. I read this fantastic book with kid a couple of years ago in his English class. I was so happy to see a book by an Indigenous writer included in the curriculum, and was sad that Richard died that year.  Another story of the residential school experience, Saul finds himself in hockey. While you might think this is a book about a Canadian pastime, it is not. Readers must be active witness to the horrors of the residential school system. Also. side note: Read Waubgeshig Rice’s piece in The Walrus about his complicated love of hockey.

Moon of the Crusted Snow by Waubgeshig Rice. Moon of the Crusted Snow is a little book packed with meaning! This book is both apocalyptic and a story of rebirth, the life-saving rebirth of Indigenous culture and traditions in the face of chaos and grief. Also, excited for the sequel (Moon of the Turning Leaves) to come out next year!

A Mind Spread Out on the Ground by Alicia Elliott. This collection of essays by one of my most favourite people in the world is a must read! Both heart breaking and enlightening, these essays offer the reader an opportunity to see how her family experienced poverty, mental illness and displacement from community. I urge you to read this book for its honest and beautiful writing. Check out the video of my chat with Alicia.

Birdie by Tracey Lindberg. It’s been a minute since I read this book, but what I remember most is that it is very funny. Following Bernice from Alberta to BC as she dreams of meeting the actor who played Jesse on The Beachcombers, she learns far more from her dreams, and the other beautiful women in her life, than she imagined.

Inconvenient Indian by Thomas King. This book is a history lesson for Canadians who got little education with regards to the Indigenous Experience in Canada (that’s most of us!). It’s not a book I read straight through, but it is still a book I’d pick up. I have shared it with a few friends and now it’s no longer on my bookshelf, so whomever has it, can I get it back?

May Days = Book Days

Have you started curating your “beach” reads list? These summer reads may or may not be read on a beach, beside or pool or even outside, but they will be read! This summer, more than ever, we will need books that can transport us to the beach, to the streets of Paris, to our favourite camping site, or simply to another place and time where we can watch the narrators live and experience worlds outside our own. Nora Decter and Julia Zarankin have two such places on offer. From mosh pits and music to beaches and birds, these two books will change the way you think about family, life and love.

Just two more books to add to your summer reading list! Consider purchasing from your local Indie book shop, or put them on hold at your local public library!

Nora Decter

How Far We Go and How Fast

“In her teenage narrator, Jolene Tucker, Decter gets it all right: the angst of youth, that simmering rage and bewilderment, looking in the mirror wondering who you are and what your worth to humankind may (or may not) be—Decter nails that mindset, really, she does.”

Craig Davidson

May 16

Junction Reads with Nora Decter

I am excited to welcome Nora Decter to Junction Reads to chat about How Far We Go and How Fast. Her debut has been described as “a novel for teens about girls with guitars, lying to your parents and to yourself, and the transformative power of a mosh-pit.”

Published by Orca Book Publishers, the novel has been classified as YA fiction, but the voice and prose of this book will be appreciated by all readers. Join me as we sit down to talk about writing, reading and how it feels to have such a great book out in the world.

Read more about HFWGHF.

Julia Zarankin

Field Notes From an Unintentional Birder

“The first time I went birding, I went initially to stare at the birders because I had had a completely indoor life… My family didn’t camp. We didn’t do the outdoors, so this is a totally different new world for me…I saw my first red-winged blackbird and it completely changed my life. It made me see in a different way.”

Julia Zarankin

May 30

Junction Reads with Julia Zarankin

I have fallen in love with birdwatching, bird feeding, bird housing and so I feel close to Julia Zarankin’s experience in Field Notes From an Unintentional Birder, but you don’t need to be a birder to appreciate how an obsession can become a life-changing hobby.

The book tells the story of Julia’s “unlikely transformation from total nature-novice to bona fide bird nerd. ‘It’ also tells the story of the unexpected pleasures of discovering one’s wild side and finding meaning in midlife through birds.”

Check out the Trailer for the book here.

These readings are supported by the National Public Readings Program.

April 24 Canadian Independent Bookstore Day

Canadian Independent Bookstore Day is Saturday, April 24, 2021!

This day is a celebration of our local bookshops and the contributions they make to our literary communities and our chance, as readers and writers to give back and show them our support. It is very difficult for an independent publisher; an emerging writer or writers creating important work that may not be the next blockbuster film to get into these big stores. This is where your local independent book shop comes in. They are also great supporters of local authors and do the publicity work so many writers need. While big retailers are in the business of selling books, local independent shops are in the business of supporting authors, independent book publishers and readers.

“By shopping locally for your books on April 24, you are advocating for independent businesses, supporting a flourishing bookselling community, and investing in Canadian culture.”

Toronto Independent Book Shops:

I hope this is an inclusive list. If I am missing your favourite shop, please let me know. Listed in alphabetic order. I have not included accessibility information, but will update this list once we get back to normal times. You can find these booksellers on social media. Follow @junctionreads on our platforms to see them tagged in our posts. Tag me in your posts and I will share details on your favourite Canadian Independent Bookstore.

The Anansi Bookshop is home to award-winning fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and CanLit, published by one of Canada’s oldest independent publishers, House of Anansi. It is located in the Junction Triangle at 128 Sterling Road (416) 363 – 4343 ext. 255. Currently closed to the public. Listed here because we love them so much! Stay tuned for information on their re-opening.

Another Story Bookshop is located on Roncesvalles, but offers curbside, local and Canada-wide delivery. Another Story is a renowned supporter of authors and independent publishers and “sells a broad range of literature for children, young adults and adults with a focus on themes of social justice, equity & diversity.” Contact: 315 Roncesvalles Ave, Toronto, ON, M6R 2M6. Phone: 416-462-1104 Email:

A Novel Spot Bookshop is a west end book shop located on Royal York, north of Dundas. They offer curbside pick-up, local delivery and you can also stop by, peak in the window and pay at the store. The owner and the staff are voracious readers and their shelves are stocked with handpicked titles. They have had most of our Junction Reads books. Humbertown Shopping.270 The Kingsway, Etobicoke, ON, M9A 3T7. Phone: 416-233-2665

A Different Booklist is an “African-Canadian owned bookstore showcasing the literature of the African and Caribbean diaspora, the global south from all the major publishers and independents.” They are offering curbside pick up and you can check out all their titles online and call or email.  779 Bathurst Street, Toronto, ON, M5S 0B7. Phone: 416-538-0889. Email:

Bakka-Phoenix Books is Canada’s oldest science fiction and fantasy bookstore and hosts a tonne of a events (in normal times) and supports all kinds of things related to the genre. The staff has historically been authors and super knowledgeable writers of science fiction and fantasy. They are currently offering curbside pick-up. 84 Harbord Street, Toronto, ON, M5S 1G5. Phone: 416-963-9993. Email:

Ben McNally Books is a beautiful book shop that says it carries the books you didn’t know you were looking for. They take orders online and by phone. I suggest you join their newsletter list to get curated lists and staff recommendations. Ben McNally is a great support of authors and can be found at many events around town (in the normal times). 317 Adelaide St. East, Toronto, ON, M5A 1N2. Phone: 416-361-0032. Email:

With four locations in Toronto, Book City serves a great number of Toronto readers and has been a mainstay for book lovers for decades. Check out their titles and order online for local delivery and curbside pickup.
Danforth. Phone: 416-469-9997. Email:
Beach. Phone: 416-698-1444. Email:
Yonge & St. Clair. Phone: 416-926-0749. Email:
Bloor West Village. Phone: 416-961-4496. Email:

Ella Minnow Children’s Bookstore is a lovely children’s book shop located in the east end. They have a huge selection of new and used books. They also offer reviews written by local readers, so you get a real feeling for the books before you order. You can order by email or phone and pick up or you can have books delivered in their catchment area. 991 Kingston Road, Toronto, ON, M4E 1T3. Phone: 416-698-2665. Email:

Flying Books is one of the coolest book spaces in Toronto. It “is a bookstore, book publisher, and writing school. The bookselling part of the equation usually operates inside three different businesses in downtown Toronto.” They are open for online shopping and you must check out their upcoming online classes taught by writers. In-store locations closed for now. Email:

Glad Day Bookshop “is the first queer-focused Canadian bookstore, and the oldest queer bookstore worldwide. Serving the LGBTQ community since 1970,” they “offer the widest possible selection of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, two-spirit, and queer literature.” In the normal times, they are the greatest supporter of reading series and author events in Toronto. 499 Church Street, Toronto, ON, M4Y 2C6. Phone: 416.901.6600. Email:

Mabel’s Fables Children’s Bookstore was my favourite place when the kids were little. I discovered books that introduced my kids to interesting characters and ideas that nurtured their creative minds. They are open for curbside pickup only and even after lockdown is lifted, they will not open to customers until their staff are vaccinated. They also have a TEEN BOOK CLUB! 662 Mount Pleasant Road, Toronto, ON, M4S 2N3. Phone: 416-322-0438. Email:

Moonbeam Books is located in the west end and they curate books for young readers and parents of soon-to-be readers. They also have a great selection of puzzles and games for kids of all ages. They pride themselves on turning young readers on to new books they’d never think of reading. They also rent board games, which is super cool! Easy online shopping and curbside pickup. 335 Jane Street, Toronto, ON, M6S 3Z3. Phone: 416-901-0832. Email:

Queen Books has curated lists online that make it easy for you to browse for a new book for you or a loved one. They have a subscription service that allows you to gift a book a month to someone you love! You can choose curbside pickup at checkout so best to order online or email with questions. This store is a huge supporter of local authors! 914 Queen Street East, Toronto ON, M4M 1J5. Phone: 416.778.5053. Email:

Type Books has three locations in Toronto and they have something for everyone. Books, puzzles, games and knickknacks, you will find something at one of their stores. They have a MYSTERY BAG that you can order for yourself or a friend. A curated pack of books worth $200 for only $100!. Email and phone orders with options for curbside pickup and delivery. QUEEN: 883 Queen St W. Call: 416-366-8973. Email: JUNCTION: 2887 Dundas St W Call: 416-761-9973 Email: FOREST HILL: 427 Spadina Rd Call: 416-487-8973 Email:

Thanks for the support!

Without the support of the Canada Council and the Writer’s Union of Canada, many writers are left to market and publicise their work with their own funds. We are grateful to the Writer’s Union for subsidizing the application fee this cycle of the National Public Readings Program. Without other grants, Junction Reads is limited to our PWYC sales and cannot normally afford to apply for these grants! We are so very grateful to have had our applications approved.

Check out our Upcoming Schedule and register for our events on EventBrite.

Spring Break, Spring Books

We are taking a a bit of a break in our schedule. Due to the interference of homeschooling, particularly, Grade 10 Math, I have had to move things around a bit. Sharon Kirsch has now joined our April line up! This means April is going to be a kick butt bundle of memoir and fiction.

April 11: Sarah Kurchak
April 18: Sharon Kirsch
April 25: Marissa Stapley

Sarah Kurchak is autistic. “She hasn’t let that get in the way of pursuing her dream to become a writer, or to find love, but she has let it get in the way of being in the same room with someone chewing food loudly, and of cleaning her bathroom sink. In I Overcame My Autism and All I Got Was This Lousy Anxiety Disorder, Kurchak examines the Byzantine steps she took to become “an autistic success story,” how the process almost ruined her life and how she is now trying to recover.” More from Douglas and McIntyre

Sharon Kirsch The Smallest Objective is a creative non-fiction book centred in Montreal. “A lantern slide, a faded recipe book, a postcard from Mexico, a nugget of fool’s gold — such are the clues available to the narrator of The Smallest Objective as she excavates for buried treasure in her family home. More from New Star Books.

Marissa Stapley brings us her fourth novel, Lucky, from Simon and Schuster. “Lucky Armstrong is a tough, talented grifter who has just pulled off a million-dollar heist with her boyfriend, Cary. She’s ready to start a brand-new life, with a new identity—when things go sideways. Lucky finds herself alone for the first time, navigating the world without the help of either her father or her boyfriend, the two figures from whom she’s learned the art of the scam. ” Read more on Marissa’s website.

Tickets for all our events are PWYC ($0+). Proceeds to the author. Check out our EventBrite page and register for any and all of our Spring events.

March Readings!

March 7: Aparna Kaji Shah

March can be the best and worst month of the year. Depending on who comes roaring in, a lion or a lamb, we can get a month that goes from good to bad or bad to good. It’s not a great month! It is certainly no June or September! I know many of us get a feeling that this month offers promise. The promise of spring. The promise of an end to winter, but there is nothing about this March that feels at all promising.

Except, we have books to read and authors to chat with about those books!

You can rely on Junction Reads – more than the weather – for readings and author talks. Our fun Sunday afternoon chats are something many readers and writers have come to look forward to.

March 7: Aparna Kaji Shah joins us for another fantastic conversation about her beautiful collection of short stories, The Scent of Mogra and Other Stories from Inanna Publications. The Scent of Mogra and Other Stories is a collection of four short stories about strong female characters dealing with difficult life-changing situations. The turmoil that they face is, often, the result of a social structure that discriminates against women. Through these powerful women characters, the stories reflect attitudes and ways of life in a village in India, and in modern day Mumbai; they highlight the values of an older generation, and the dreams of a new one. Beneath all their differences, The Scent of Mogra and Other Stories illuminate the quality of women’s lives, exposing the pain, the injustices, as well as the triumphs that make up their existence. More From Inanna Publications.

NEW DATE: APRIL 18 Sharon Kirsch will join us with readings from her latest A Smallest Objective from New Star Books. “Confronted with her mother’s memory loss, a daughter undertakes a search for buried treasure in her now-vacant family home, aided by a team of archeologists. This first-person narrative produces unsettling discoveries about several Montreal personalities as revealed by the objects that survive them—a microscope and lantern slides, a worn recipe book, the obituary of a renowned black sheep in the family. In the end, the excavation of the narrator’s childhood home yields both less and more than she ever imagined.” You can read an excerpt on her website.

Register for our events on Eventbrite. PWYC ($0+) Proceeds to the author. Captions available.

February Fiction!

We’ve got another three readings lined up for February and they promise to brighten up what some consider the dreariest month of the year. We have a collection of short stories that is hot hot hot, a Young Adult novel with important mental health themes and a bit of poetry and new fiction from one of Canada’s best essayists.

February 7: Jess Taylor joins us with her fantastic collection of stories, Just Pervs from Book*hug Press. This book was the highlight of my summer reads and I can’t wait to sit with Jess to chat about her open and honest approach to relationships, sex and sexuality. A 2020 Lambda Literary Award Finalist in Bisexual Fiction, I am so happy JUST PERVS will be shared with you all.

“Jess Taylor’s second short-story collection is a bold examination of the contemporary underbelly of women’s desires. The stories centre on nuances of longing that are much more interesting than those found in many mainstream narratives: the gross bits; fleeting, horrible Tinder-era flings; and even a refreshing take on queer polyamory (in “A Story About Our Friends Lana and Tia”). Taylor writes about women’s desires across life stages very well, particularly in “So Raw You Can’t Sit,” which follows a septuagenarian protagonist taking up with a new partner in the face of judgment and chronic pain.” Quill and Quire.

February 21: Brent van Staalduinen returns to Junction Reads with his debut YA novel, Nothing But Life, that has a traumatized protagonist at its centre. An award-winning writer, I cannot wait to sit and talk to Brent about his latest novel.

From Dundurn: “Dills and his mom have returned to Hamilton, her hometown, hoping to leave the horrors of Windsor behind. But it’s impossible to escape the echoes of tragedy, and trouble always follows trouble. When Dills hurts a new classmate, it comes out in court that he was in the Windsor High library when the shooter came in. But he won’t talk about what he saw, what he still sees whenever he closes his eyes. He can’t. He definitely can’t tell anyone that the Windsor Shooter is his stepfather, Jesse, that Jesse can speak into his mind from hundreds of kilometres away, and that Dills still loves him even though he committed an unspeakable crime.”

February 28: When I learned Alicia Elliott was working on some poetry while at the same time completing her first novel, I was so excited she agreed to come to Junction Reads to talk about writing in a genre so unlike her popular and inspiring essays.

If you haven’t read Mind Spread Out On The Ground, you should. It is a collection of personal and provocative essays, like no other. A #1 National Bestseller, Shortlisted for the Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize and named one of the best books of 2019 by many newspapers and magazines, it is the best non-fiction book I have read.

I hope you can join us for any or all of our upcoming events. Check out the Junction Reads EventBrite page to RSVP to our February Fiction Events.

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