Toronto Keeps Reading The Hunger Games, Game of Thrones
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Toronto Keeps Reading The Hunger Games, Game of Thrones

Library street teams are asking Torontonians for their book picks today to kick off the Keep Toronto Reading Festival.

Volunteer Nong Li chats with a pedestrian. He likes books on finance.

“What are you reading?” called out 17-year-old Nong Li. A rangy young guy in a backwards red ball cap reacted with surprise. After Li explained that she’s a volunteer with the Toronto Public Library, he was all ears. “Hey, where is the library?” he countered, letting Li practically walk him to a nearby branch.

A motley crew of book-loving kids and teens staked out the corner of Yonge and Bloor this morning to kick off the Toronto Public Library’s seventh annual Keep Toronto Reading Festival. The theme this year is Reader City, which Programming Manager Tina Srebotnjak explained will “celebrate not only the books you love, but the neighbourhoods the books are written in.”

To mark that theme, street teams (officially, “KTR Krews”) will be approaching Torontonians across the city today to ask what they’re reading, at locations such as Yonge and Sheppard, the Cedarbrae Plaza in Scarborough, and the MasterCard Centre in Etobicoke.

Grade 11 student and volunteer Yujia Cheng was soft-spoken, but lit up when she mentioned her new favourite book, The Lovely Bones. “The angle is pretty different from other books I’ve read before,” she enthused. Friend Carol Hu piped in that she’s loving the Hunger Games series.

Torontonians themselves have a mixed bag of interests, though thrillers and mysteries came out on top. “I just read that Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” called out a disheveled woman in her 60s as she rushed by.

“I like espionage books, like Casino Royale,” volunteered a well-tanned man in his late 40s. A black-clad young woman gamely waved John Lescroart’s Hunt Club at the street team, while another copped to liking Lee Child. The perennially bestselling series Game of Thrones received at least two nods.

Even a man handing out Toronto Sun papers on the corner got in on the action and confessed to liking classicist Michael Grant’s writing. “He’s a real junky for the ancient world,” he said.

Still, many confessed that they weren’t reading at all. “They’ve been busy with their lives,” Li explained.

Street teamer Haille Bailey-Harris, a Grade 12 student at Riverdale Collegiate Institute, wasn’t fazed. “The library is such an important part of the city and it’s just cool to contribute where you can, and help out and spread a love of reading.”

Other street teams will be in various locations across Toronto today. Keep Toronto Reading runs through the month of April. Event information is available from the library.