Full disclosure: I am volunteering at the fair this weekend but am not obliged to give it good press.

It’s the weekend in Toronto and you’re bored. What luck! The city’s new big-time international book fair, INSPIRE! kicked off on Thursday and will continue through to Sunday at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

General admission tickets are good for the whole weekend, and can be acquired for $15 for adults, $10 for seniors and youths; children get in free. Fifteen dollars barely gets you into a a movie these days, so I was pleased to discover that INSPIRE! is loaded up with programming, author talks, and exhibitors. INSPIRE! boasts over 250 exhibitors, including big book stores, publishers, self-published authors, and zinesters, and expects to see 50,000 visitors over the course of its four day run. It’s a good deal, is what I’m saying, and a good way to spend a weekend for readers young and old.

What to see, do, and buy? Oh, everything. But here are some panels I’m excited about:

Saturday, November 15

Anne Rice, Prince LestatTHE STATE OF PUBLISHING AROUND THE WORLD, 203B, 11AM – 12PM: The name of this panel discussion explains itself just fine, I think. Not intrigued? Live tweet the panel and I’ll bake you some nice cookies. Sure to be of interest to publishing geeks, anyway.

ANNE RICE, Main Stage, 12PM – 1PM: The eccentric author talks vampires, her disdain for editors, (Jesus?), and her new book, Prince Lestat. Whether you’re a fan of her work or not, this talk is sure to be a trip.

MARGARET ATWOOD, Main Stage, 3PM – 4PM: It seems like Atwood always has a new book out, doesn’t it? And yes, she does. This time it’s Stone Mattress. But like Rice, it’s not the new book only that’s the draw, it’s the woman. Witty, widely read, and always interesting, Atwood’s become an institution. Unmissable, as far as I’m concerned.

LOVE TO READ!, Children’s Stage, 3PM – 3:30PM: Oh no, conflicting recommendations! Maybe you can listen to them both at once? This panel looks at the importance of reading programs for children: how learning to read, and learning to love reading, can lead to improved outcomes for kids across the board.

Sunday, November 16

George Murray, Wow Wow and Haw HawFIRST BOOK! EMERGING VOICES IN INDIGENOUS LIT, First Nations, Metis, and Inuit Literary Circle, 10AM – 11AM: Perhaps you haven’t noticed but many of Canada’s most interesting contemporary writers are indigenous. Don’t miss the chance to chat with some of our new greats.

GEORGE MURRAY, Children’s Stage, 11AM – 11:30AM: Murray is the author of the gorgeous new picture book, Wow Wow and Haw Haw. I mean, look at this cover. Go see him.

PICTURE THIS, Spark Stage, 11:30 – 12:30: Cartoonists and illustrators Michael Cho, Jon Paul Fiorentino, and George A. Walker talk picture books and cartooning.

COMEDY…? WHAT’S FUNNY IN FUNNY BOOKS, Spark Stage, 2PM – 3PM: Kate Beaton, Chip Zdarsky, and Ryan North sit in chairs emanating awesome.

HOW A PICTURE BOOK IS MADE, Discovery Stage, 3:30PM – 4:30: Does this need explanation? Well, perhaps you’re not the curious sort. But you should be. Go and learn! Picture books are such a special genre. *smishes them*

 

I’ll be at the fair all weekend, sporting a bright blue volunteer t-sheet, dark circles under my eyes, and fabulous hair. See some authors, buy some books, and come say hi!