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9 Reasons to Visit Literary Festivals

This weekend, Word On The Street brought readers, writers and story telling enthusiasts together to celebrate  written word in five cities across Canada.  Readers of all ages at WOTS Toronto rifled through cases, bins and stacks of books.  Families stopped to enjoy an iced tea a magic show.  Authors such as Joseph Boyden, Austin Clarke and DJ McIntosh signed critically acclaimed and best selling books, while up coming authors and publishers connected with the crowds.

Hundreds of authors and thousands of readers took to Queen’s Park to celebrate the festival, and here are the top 10 reasons why:

  1. Get out.  Take a break from routine, jump into a book-crazed crowd, and have some fun.  There will be time to read on the in your favourite chair later, so step outside and remind yourself how important reading is to so many other people.
  2. Meet your favourite authors.  This one might seem overly obvious, but if you’re lucky enough to have a festival in your community where you can meet the authors that line your bookshelves,  why not go to get their book signed?  It can be a great chance to chat or ask the questions you would at your dream dinner party.
  3. Improve your skills. Literary festivals almost always mean literary workshops.  This could be your opportunity to hone a specific written piece with the aide of professional writers, develop thematic writing, practice specific techniques or engage your creative side. These workshops are usually for all skill levels, high energy and supportive.  Depending on the festival, they could even be free!
  4. Learn about community affairs.  These events mean more than just book vendors.  Often times, you’ll find different community or political groups looking to engage with the book loving public.  There might be a tea house that hosts a monthly book club.  There might be a libertarian party representative to bounce questions off of.  Its all part of the fun.
  5. Meet the experts.  Discussions and presentations are noteworthy features of any literary celebration.  Topics can range from research techniques, advocacy for human rights or environment, emerging technology, you name it!  Anything that readers and writers are passionate about is sure to be talked about.
  6. Discover new talent.  There are  a plethora of skilled, profound and compelling authors  out there.  Most of them will never know the fame of JK Rowling or Shel Silverstein, but popularity isn’t the only earmark of a good book.  Consider it a chance to find hidden treasure. Who doesn’t like treasure?
  7. Share the excitement.  Reading and writing are often solitary, quiet activities, so embrace opportunities that make it a social one.  You can go with fellow book lovers, or better yet, bring someone who doesn’t know the wonderful world of written word.  With all the books, speakers and sales, there’s bound to be something to spark their interest. At the very least, there’s food.
  8. Enjoy the food.  Festivals can be great for the tastebuds too.  Unique and exciting food and beverage vendors can keep you energized as you stroll through the crowds, tents and pavilions with an ever-growing pile of books and pamphlets.
  9. Find great deals.  A book fair could mean bundled books, $3 hardcover novels,  or even books that have yet to hit store shelves! Not only can you add to your personal collection, but books can make great gifts.  Fact.

Convinced? Great!  Here are some of the book festivals kicking off this coming week: