Friday, December 7, 2007

Chapters & Nina's Toronto Book Tour

It’s Friday and my Friday Feature is dedicated to Chapters-Indigo-Coles Bookstore, a wonderful Canadian book chain that has wisely--and to my ecstatic pleasure--decided to carry "Darwin's Paradox" in every store across the country.

I just got back from my book tour in Toronto, Canada, and had a blast! Upon arrival at the Pearson International Airport, my brother and sister in law picked me up and graciously hosted me in their home north of Toronto. I didn’t realize just how gracious they were until I got there and discovered that they were in the midst of redecorating their home. But they were cool with me staying there and my sister in law even offered to act as my guide through Toronto’s maze of highways and suburban sprawl—so long as I didn’t mind visiting a hundred bathroom and tile shops between bookstores. I congenially agreed and settled into the groove. I even picked up a few tips along the way. Did you know, for instance that 1/2” thick cementitious ceramic tile backerboards are recommended over greenboard sheetrock for tub and shower enclosures, because the latter aren’t sufficiently water-proof in areas subject to heavy amounts of moisture? Well, there, you learned something just as I did.

As for Toronto…I saw it all…and I can tell you where every single Chapters-Indigo-Coles bookstore is, too! Toronto is really a network of many smaller historical “villages” with unique character, ethnic culture and history, glued together by a “connective tissue” of highways, urban sprawl and shopping malls. Toronto (tə’rɒntoʊ/, local pronunciation [trɑnoʊ]) is the largest city in Canada and the provincial capital of Ontario. Located on scenic Lake Ontario, the city is the fifth-most populous municipality in North America, with over 2.5 million residents. Considered one of the world’s most diverse cities, Toronto is also a global city and one of the top financial cities in the world. It’s come a long way from “the place where trees stand in the water” (Iroquois meaning for “Toronto”).

I started my tour in the northwest, including the Indigo Bookstore at Yorkdale Shopping Centre, which was in 1964 (when it was built) the largest enclosed mall in the world. There I met some wonderful readers, including Cathy Paxton (pictured here with me).

In the next several days, my intrepid sister in law and I meandered from one end to the other of greater Toronto’s sprawling network of villages and towns in search of bookstores. Our trek took us through 40 km winds, horizontal sleet and freezing rain and ice. Undeterred, we pushed on, confident with the knowledge that most Chapters-Indigo-Coles were equipped with a Starbucks where we could sample their latest gingerbread latte.

After doing the mall scene in suburban Toronto, we took the subway on Friday downtown to the funky part of Queen Street West where we had lunch at East, whose designer washroom was more attractive than most people’s livingrooms. As the sun briefly broke through the clouds, we walked to Bakka-Phoenix Science Fiction Bookstore. It was just what I’d expected, located in an old building complete with brick façade and casement windows. Inside, I found a friendly staff, headed by Chris Szajo, the manager. As I autographed the last two books, Chris assured me that more books were on the way.
My sister-in-law then tirelessly led me through the downtown core from Eaton’s Centre to the Largest Bookstore in the World and then, as the darkness fell over the city and the city lights reflected the falling snow, we ended up in the business section where Darwin’s Paradox was also for sale in several bookstores tucked in among fancy cafes where Toronto business men and women discussed the stock exchange and the coming environmental crisis.

Then, on December 1st, true to Toronto’s efficient way of doing things, and in the great spirit of Christmas, it snowed heavily, creating a winter-wonderland, complete with icicles and sparkling snowflakes. It couldn’t have been more perfect.

My last signing took place at Indigos in Markham in the Woodside Mall. What a send off for me! Not only had they already sold a large number of the books, but I proceeded to sign-off the rest to an interesting and incredibly vibrant and diverse group of readers who engaged me in diverting discussions on evolution, Darwinism, women’s issues, technology and the environment. Here are just a few of the interesting people I met: there was Mark, an orthodox priest; Lauren and Louise, lovers of historical fiction; Alvin a young University of Toronto engineering student; Nadira, a physician; Tristan, a science fiction reader and his mother; Rodica, a fellow Romanian with whom I shared a few Romanian words (mulţumesc, Rodica!); three Margarets (No! They didn’t know each other!); and Michael Fuller, an ecologist with the University of Toronto.

I must thank the managers of the book stores who hosted my signings, all of whom made me feel so welcome; particularly Mary, Kevin and Scott of Chapters (Woodside Centre in Markham), who put on a great show for the book and even got me one of those Starbucks coffees! Thanks, everyone!


Jean-Luc Picard said...

I recognise the picture of the church and the new city hall in Toronto, as I was there. Thanks for the explanation of what 'Toronto' means.

sfgirl said...

That's cool that you were there, Jean-Luc...though it doesn't surprise me that a man of your stature would have visited that fair place.