An #AFI2016 Itinerary: Toronto

The 2nd annual Canadian Authors for Indies Day is coming up on April 30, 2016. At independent bookstores across Canada, authors will be volunteering as guest booksellers, and that’s just the beginning of the bookish fun in store. Keep up with the BookNet Canada blog for updates, and don't forget to follow @authors4indies and #AFI2016 on Twitter. Lauren Stewart, former bookseller and BookNet's resident captain of awesome, reveals her plans for the day below. You can plot out your own #AFI2016 itinerary by visiting and looking for stores participating in your area.

As if we need another excuse to visit independent bookstores, right? And yet, the 2nd annual Canadian Authors for Indies Day is on the horizon and I'm feeling an all too familiar itch...

Last year, I went hard. Following a carefully planned schedule, I hit up more than a handful of bookshops, squirreled away treasures and titles for myself and others, and survived the after effects of the shopping addiction for a full 48 hours. This year, I have bigger plans. The credit cards are ready, I have a few gift certificates, and I might be able to hit up a friend with a car (which means I'll have a trunk and no bags burdening me as the day progresses). Here's where you'll find me:

Follow Lauren's journey with this handy map!

Follow Lauren's journey with this handy map!

TYPE Books, 883 Queen St. W.

I have a soft spot for this store, located in the heart of the Queen West shopping district across from the vast greenery of Trinity Bellwoods Park: it's gorgeous, has unique titles I've not found anywhere else in the city, and employed me for over four years. Plus, TYPE is going hard on Authors for Indies in 2016, tying the event to a celebration of their 10th anniversary. As with last year, they will have a limited number of special products for early-bird customers, and I plan to be in the lineup before the doors open at 10 a.m. to secure an exclusive, limited-edition hardcover of André Alexis’ Giller Prize-winning novel Fifteen Dogs, and a tote bag commemorating the store's 10th anniversary designed by Back Alleys and Shoplifter's Michael Cho. Plus, the first 30 customers get tote bags stuffed with literary swag from HarperCollins, Penguin Random House, Book Thug, Coach House, and Drawn & Quarterly! I'm especially excited to score a copy of Coach House's map of independent bookstores in Toronto, as teased on Twitter:

A store as beloved and geographically blessed as TYPE will, of course, have a full slate of authors offering bookselling support; head over to their Facebook page to get the most up-to-date information.

Another Story Bookshop, 315 Roncesvalles Ave.

Visiting Another Story is a treasured activity on its own but I'm particularly excited to stop by at 11 a.m. when their first slate of authors starts working. I'm looking forward to meeting Teva Harrison and hopefully snag autographed copies of her newly released memoir about living with metastatic cancer, In-Between Days. There are many people in my life with whom I'd like to share her comics, which were previously serialized in The Walrus. Once I've secured a few copies and discretely gobbled down a cookie (their snack game was on last year), I'll move on—many more shops and authors to see—and my walk up Roncesvalles to the subway will surely offer plenty of distractions, with the neighbourhood's rich mix of indie restaurants, shops, and community hotspots.

Complete Authors for Indies event details are available on the shop's Facebook page.

A Novel Spot, 270 The Kingsway

This is one of two bookshops on this list that I will visit for the first time on Authors for Indies Day, and it's safe to say I'm pretty excited. Visiting a new store is filled with anticipation: will we have the same taste? Will it challenge me? What treasure will I leave with? The store hosts a healthy number of events each month and I've only heard great things about the shop, the staff team, and their selection. Authors for Indies is a wonderful excuse to visit this newer shop in Toronto's west end; I can't wait to find out about their participating authors when I arrive!

A Novel Spot will be tweeting details of its confirmed author appearances @NovelSpotBooks.

Ben McNally Books, 366 Bay St.

Ben McNally Books, one of the most gorgeous shops in the city, shines even brighter due to its location in the otherwise uninspired Financial District (to our Wolf of Wall Street fans reading today: no offense intended). Ben McNally is hosting Ian Brown's only Authors for Indies Day appearance, starting at noon. One of my favourite memoirists, Brown will be stumping until 1 p.m., giving me a hard deadline to make it to the shop from the west end.

Ben McNally will offer event listings on their website at

Book City, 348 Danforth Ave. and 1950 Queen St. E.

As the day winds down, I will head east towards my own neighbourhood indies. My first stop off the subway will be the Book City location on The Danforth, a bustling location in the heart of Greektown and very conveniently located near famous smoothie and juice purveyor The Big Carrot. Juice in hand (sugar will be required to fuel the rest of this particular itinerary), I hope to make it to the Danforth location in time for Nettie Cronish, health-conscious cookbook author and protector of my waistline. Once I pick Nettie's brain for a new title for my ever-expanding cookbook collection, I will hop back onto transit and head over to Book City's second location in The Beaches, hopefully in time to catch Canadian historian extraordinaire Ken McGoogan. The man has written over a dozen books on obscure pockets of Canadian history and identity, surely he can identify a book suitable for my grandfather, a voracious reader of the subject. 

For Authors for Indies Day newbies, there are dozens of authors appearing at all Book City locations on Authors for Indies Day, so you really cannot choose a "bad" time to visit any one of their stores, IMHO. Take a breath and head to Book City's Facebook page for information about the authors appearing at the chain's various locations.

Great Escape Book Store, 957 Kingston Rd.

Great Escape is the second store I'll be visiting for the first time on April 30, and I'm pretty excited to discover a shop in my new neighbourhood. They've got one author appearing on Authors for Indies Day: Jason Ramsay-Brown, whose book Toronto's Ravines and Urban Forests I'm excited to pick up.

Ella Minnow Children's Bookstore, 991 Kingston Rd.

The final stop on my journey will be the new location of the beloved east end children's bookshop, Ella Minnow. Recently relocated from its Queen Street East location in The Beaches, Ella Minnow is a calming oasis where I never fail to find a new favourite to squirrel away for any kids who visit my home. If you need another reason to check it out on Authors for Indies Day, Ella Minnow is listing beloved plasticine artist (and author of dozens of picture books) Barbara Reid, in her sole Authors for Indies appearance. My journey brings me to this store near to its closing bell at 5 p.m., so my fingers are crossed that I'll be able to meet my childhood hero.

Ella Minnow's website promises forthcoming details on Authors for Indies.