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The Best of Open Book 2011

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Happy New Year!

Happy Holidays! As 2011 draws to a close, we have pulled together for you a list of the year’s most-loved articles and features on Open Book: Toronto and Open Book: Ontario.

In 2011, we welcomed new contributors, we were dazzled (again) by the incredible talent of our Writers in Residence, we continued to map literary Ontario and we worked hard to keep you in the know about Canadian authors, hot topics in the Ontario lit scene, exciting new Canadian books and literary events in your neighbourhood and across our fine province.

In 2012 at Open Book, we will celebrate our fifth anniversary. Thank you, dear Readers! Your enthusiasm and curiosity about all things literary in Ontario is what keeps Open Book going. We couldn’t do it without you.

And now, the Best of Open Book for 2011.

OUR WRITERS IN RESIDENCE
Each month, Open Book: Toronto welcomes a new Writer In Residence who lends his or her wisdom, charm, talent and wit to the website. A round of applause, please, for our 2011 WIRs, whose smart, timely and intriguing posts made OBT a destination for book lovers from all over the world: Kate Pullinger, Jeff Latosik, Angela Hibbs, Ian Daffern, Amy Lavender Harris, Devyani Saltzman, Jessica Westhead, Fraser Sutherland, Liz Worth, Farzana Doctor, Dorothy Ellen Palmer and John Brady.

MAPPING LITERARY ONTARIO
Since Open Book: Ontario launched in fall 2010, we’ve been busy highlighting Ontario’s Literary Landmarks on our detailed online map of the province. Readers can click on Landmarks to learn more about the history, present and location, and can also login and contribute words, images, video or audio to the Landmark scrapbooks at anytime.The Map is an opportunity for Open Book readers, staff and contributors to work together and map Ontario’s literary places.

This past year, together, we’ve added the following Landmarks: House of Anansi Press, Grey Borders, Eden Mills Writers’ Festival, Fish Quill Poetry Boat Tour, Heart of Niagara Writers’ Festival, Dr. Pollard Poetry Park, Backbeat Books, The Bookshelf, Spring Pulse Poetry Festival, Richard Outram’s House, Words Worth Books Knowledge Bookstore The Muskoka Chautauqua Reading Circle, The Ontario Writers' Conference and Wayzgoose.

We also added Port Colborne's Bookmark, Mississauga's Bookmark, Hamilton's Bookmark and Midland's Bookmark in collaboration with Project Bookmark Canada. Thanks to Kate Burgess and Elizabeth Hilborn for their remarkable work on these Landmark pages

We look forward to all reader suggestions and contributions to the Map in 2012!

BARBARA BELL ON LITERATURE AND FITNESS
“A fitness freak, I’m not. A book fanatic, yes. This fixation naturally suggests unhealthily long hours in a sedentary state. Books and physical activity seem mutually exclusive, and I’ve learned from sad experience that reading and any kind of sport — even walking — can be dangerous to your health.” Kingston WritersFest Producer Barbara Bell entertained readers this fall with her account of staying in shape by coordinating the well-attended literary festival. Read “Festival and Fitness.”

DALTON HIGGIN'S CONSIDERS THE HEFT OF A BOOK
“It’s one thing to have an albatross around your neck, and then there’s the next worst thing, which might be carrying school textbooks on your back.” Columnist Dalton Higgins makes a fun pitch for ebooks over textbooks in his widely read article, “Cro-Magnon Kids and David Letterman.” Discover his “Top Ten Reasons Textbooks Bite.”

SPOTLIGHT ON POETS
What do you get if you bring together twelve talented Ontario poets and one exceptional photographer? A gallery of stunning portraits of members of the CanLit community. In the latest installment of Open Book’s Spotlight Series, you can peruse beautiful photographs of some of our country’s finest poets enjoying the cool spring air in Toronto.

MELANIE JANISSE'S BOOK DESIGNS
“Now, I am no graphic designer. Nothing about my history dictated that I would become involved in re-branding one of the most tenacious and long-standing presses in Toronto — especially the one that publishes me, but I couldn’t resist the ideas forming in my head.” Melanie Janisse’s article “Dancing Seahorses” provides a fascinating account of the process of book design and discusses Guernica Editions’ change of ownership and style.

STACEY MADDEN LOOKS AT THE NEXT DAY
In “Opening Up About Suicide,” Stacey Madden writes about the launch for Pop Sandbox’s latest book, The Next Day, an intensely moving graphic novel about survivors of suicide attempts. Madden article is thoughtful and empathetic. He writes, “As a rule, Open Book doesn’t post reviews or recommendations, but I am going to break that rule. If you are someone who is prone to moodiness, if you sometimes feel like life has kicked your ass so hard there’s no possible way you could ever recuperate, if you’ve ever felt so profoundly alone that, even for a moment, you questioned your own tangible existence — in other words, if you’re a human being — I urge you to buy a copy of The Next Day.”

THE GREAT CANADIAN WRITER'S CRAFT
In the spring, Toronto high-school students conducted interviews with some of Canada’s most exciting and inspiring poets. The interviews feature the savvy journalism of two Writer’s Craft classes under the collaborative tutelage of teacher John Ouzas and poet a.rawlings. We were delighted to be able to share the 28 thoughtful and whip-smart interviews with our readers, who were in turn delighted to read them. You can find the interviews on the Writer’s Craft page.

ROB MCLENNAN ON THE HISTORY OF SOMEONE
“In June, 2011, the afternoon before the spring edition of the Toronto Small Press Book Fair, Christine McNair and I went to visit Aaron Benson and Deborah Barnett at Someone's new storefront at 1691 Dundas Street West, just by Lansdowne.” In rob mclennan’s engaging interview with Barnett, we learn about the history of Someone, which is important to the history of CanLit. Read “Four Questions for Deborah Barnett, Someone.”

MICHELLE MEDFORD SEARCHES FOR GHOSTS
Notebook and pen in hand, Michelle Medford bravely followed paranormal investigator and author Richard Palmisano on his ghost walk around the CNE grounds in order to write about it for Open Book. While many of the ghosts were “polite,” others weren't as friendly, but when leaving the grounds, Michelle and her tour companions were reassured by the medium that their visit wasn’t entirely unwelcome: “there’s a little boy looking down from the second floor, peering out of a window with a bright light. His name is Oliver and he’s waving goodbye.” Read “Searching for Ghosts at the CNE with Richard Palmisano” and prepare to have your hair stand on end.

NATHANIEL G MOORE ON BOOK PR
Nathaniel G Moore’s October installment of his Conflict of Interest column, “How to Be Your Own PR Book Dream Team,” quickly shot to the top of our “Most Popular Reads list.” Readers wanted to know about “The Camilla Gibb Effect,” how to work social media, planning the launch, the time between publication and review, how friends can lend a helping hand and about the “afterlife” of a book. Moore’s column answered pressing questions about book publicity.

SHAUN SMITH'S FICTION CRAFT
“Where do your stories come from?” Shaun Smith asked Douglas Coupland, Terry Fallis, Edeet Ravel, Sean Dixon, Emma Ruby-Sachs, Trilby Kent, Patrick deWitt, Jon Evans and Ken Sparling in “The Story of Stories,” the May installment of Smith’s ever-popular Fiction Craft series. “The Story of Stories” quickly became one of the best-read articles on the Ontario site, and readers learned the origins of many of their favourite books. We’ll tell you this: deWitt’s “impetus for The Sisters Brothers was the two words ‘sensitive cowboys’ scribbled in a note pad.” You’ll have to read the column to find out where the other writers’ stories came from.

BECKY TOYNE VISITS THE BOOK BAKERY
“In deepest Parkdale (literally — it lives in the basement of Capital Espresso), a new project is taking shape...” writes Becky Toyne in her article, “A Library in the Palm of Your Hand. An Artwork in the Pages of Your Library.” The Book Bakery is now a well-known publisher of fine books, but back in March when Toyne wrote her column, she was one of the first to explore the exciting new publishing venture.

GEORGE MURRAY'S QUESTIONLESS BOOKS INTERVIEW
George Murray’s weekly series, in which he gets famous and fascinating literary types to finish statements about books and publishing, has a seriously devoted following. Visit Murray’s Author Blog page for a full list of the interviews (you can also find them in our archives), and find out how the literati finish this statement: “A manuscript that’s ready to be read has....”

Coming up in 2012: More engrossing articles, intriguing interviews and photo galleries, fun videos, on-the-scene event coverage, up-to-date book news and engaging and provocative blogging from our Writers in Residence. There’s also going to be this great new app....

Happy New Year!
Open Book: Toronto & Open Book: Ontario

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