With the omnipresence of the Internet, there are some people who believe that books will cease to be a popular medium, instead doomed to become the relic of a bygone era. However, I know for a fact that many people still prefer to read in print rather than online. For one, many of us spend large amounts of our work days staring at screens and reading from them, so when it comes to leisure reading, we prefer to read books because it’s less tiring to read from printed paper than from a monitor.
Secondly, the Internet format favours short browse-able texts and hyperlinked information that is tangential (jumping from one topic to another) rather than sequential (like a traditional story with a beginning, middle, and end), which means that substantial texts like novels and essays are easier to read in print. Thirdly, when reading a long piece of writing, you may prefer flipping pages to scrolling down web pages. Therefore, there is still a need for printed books in providing a medium for longer, more developed, and deeper literature.
The Toronto International Festival of Authors (IFOA) happening now at the Harbourfront Centre aims to focus on not only the need, but also the interest and enthusiasm for books, authors, and reading in general. As part of the Authors at Harbourfront Centre programme, the IFOA is now in its 31st year and features author book readings, interviews, lectures, round table discussions, audience questions, and book signings. For 2010, the festival has invited over 150 authors local and international, including Jane Urquhart, Ian Brown, Richard Ford, and Jeff Lindsay.
I attended the reading by John Waters, the cult artist who directed the films Pink Flamingos and Hairspray. He read excerpts from his latest book Role Models, sat down for an interview, and took audience questions. There are many other great authors reading and answering questions during the IFOA, including the finalists and winners of the Scotiabank Giller Prize, the Governor General’s Literary Award, the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, the Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-fiction, and the $10,000 Harbourfront Festival Prize.
This year, the IFOA runs from October 20 to 30. The tickets are $18.00 per reading/interview or round table discussion, while special events such as the Governor General’s Literacy Award Finalists reading have a different ticket price. I encourage you move away from the monitor, go down to the Harbourfront to attend this annual international event, and rekindle your love for the printed word.
207 and 235 Queens Quay West
By TTC: take the 509 or 510 streetcar from Union Station, or take the Union Station streetcar from Spadina Station.
By car: from the downtown core, head south on York St. or Spadina Ave. past the Gardiner Expressway and Lakeshore Blvd. until you arrive at Queens Quay West. There are indoor and outdoor pay parking lots along Queens Quay West.
Download the IFOA programme and schedule (link below) to see specific event times. The first event of the day starts as early as 10:30a.m.; the last event usually starts at 8pm.
Download the IFOA programme and schedule here