Our Second Visit to the Open House
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Our Second Visit to the Open House

The second annual Open House Festival, an eclectic celebration of bookish things, was held this past weekend and we, your ever-intrepid book-lovers, were out in force. In general, we found ourselves very pleased: last year’s hiccups with regard to venue and atmosphere (too austere) were completely resolved thanks to the warmth of the Appel Salon, and though there were some formatting tweaks we’d like to see in the future, the line-up was first-rate, the panel topics were on point, and there was plenty of wine to help it all go down smoothly.
[email protected] editor James Grainger and contributor Erin Balser, along with Torontoist’s Hamutal Dotan and Suzannah Showler, have the complete scoop over on our sister site devoted to all things literary. And to help get you oriented, we put together a handy little event-by-event list for you right after the jump.

Compassionate Citizenship: An Open House Symposium

TV host and author Paula Todd deftly guided the panel, which consisted of Mark Kingwell, Gabor Mate, Pico Iyer, and Barbara Coloroso, through a series of questions anchored in the idea of compassion. How does compassion inform one’s rights as a citizen? What does it mean to be a citizen without compassion? How do we learn to deny our instincts toward compassion and fellow feeling? JG

Fiction Night in the Open House

Linden MacIntyre, Colm Tóibín, Joanna Trollope, and Colson Whitehead are on tonight’s roster: it’s a stellar list, a classic blend of new star, literary heavyweight, bestseller, and up-and-comer. It’s a line-up that would slide seamlessly into any major festival’s programme. But tonight feels a bit different, the literary equivalent of taking off your jacket and loosening your tie. HD

Coach House Authors Come to Play

Moving beyond the usual fare of readings, interviews, and roundtable discussions, Open House’s Saturday evening event, Torn from the Pages, presented a project of a different ilk. The premise: a slate of Canadian musicians write musical pieces inspired by a Coach House Press book of their choosing and perform these songs in conjunction with readings from the chosen literary works. A bit a of a kitschy-cute idea, to be sure, but you’re far better off asking “why not?” than “why?” in this case. SS

Reimagining Citizenship at the Open House Festival

We all know what it means to be a citizen, in practical terms: there are rights and attendant responsibilities, expectations that your home government will protect you if you get into trouble abroad, and oftentimes (though not always) there is a corresponding sense of national identity. What’s less clear are the moral, conceptual, and ideological aspects of citizenship—what it means to be a citizen, philosophically. Tackling that issue on Sunday afternoon at the Open House Festival were three authors with special insight into the subject: Ishmael Beah, Roméo Dallaire, and Adrienne Clarkson. HD

An Open House on the World at Large

Wine and libraries are two things that don’t usually go together (unless you’re in fourth year university and minutes away from passing in your final exam). But this weekend, it was the norm, as the Toronto Reference Library hosted the Open House Festival, where big name authors mingle among us regular folk with ease, drinking wine and chatting about words and ideas. That’s what happened this Sunday afternoon when leading Islamic thinker Irshad Manji, former prime minister Joe Clark, author Ronald Wright, and New York Times writer Chris Hedges came together to talk about the world at large and, essentially, how we’re all screwing it up. EB