Toronto's Spring (Book) Awakening
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Toronto’s Spring (Book) Awakening

Our pick of the top city-centric books to look forward to this season.

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April in Toronto means re-awakened brain cells, and not just from gawking at passersby who simultaneously rock short-shorts and parkas. It also marks the season when local independent publishers begin to put out their springtime catalogues. Spring 2015 promises a veritable smorgasbord of appealing, Toronto-friendly book titles, but since time is of the essence, we’ve rounded up the ones we’re most excited about.

35 ECW UrbanCyclingGuide Coversketches
The Urban Cycling Survival Guide: Need-to-Know Skills and Strategies for Biking in the City
by Yvonne Bambrick
ECW Press, March 2015

Cycle Toronto founding executive director and city-enthusiast-about-town, Yvonne Bambrick, has now, literally, written the book on cycling in the city. This lean, 160-page manual features attractive illustrations by Marc Ngui and offers advice on everything from choosing the bike that’s best for your needs to, well, not getting run over by a careless motorist. Bambrick has come under heat in the past for her open refusal to don a bike helmet, which might come back to haunt her now that she’s penned a cycling safety guide. But, either way, this book promises to start conversations about what it means to take to the city’s streets on two wheels.

by Kat Verhoeven
Conundrum Press, April 2015

This graphic novel for the YA set sees a group of friends in Toronto’s St. James Town “towerhood” who become aware of certain oncoming doom through the onset of various supernatural abilities. The book is a Toronto book in the sense that the Scott Pilgrim series was a Toronto series, but, more than that, it’s about friendship and the precise and bittersweet moment when you know childhood’s just about to be over.

The Ramones at RPM in a 1987 concert. Photo courtesy of Gary Topp.

Then & Now: Toronto Nightlife History
by Denise Benson
Three O’Clock Press, Late Spring 2015

Journalist and DJ Denise Benson’s popular “Then & Now” column for The Grid is getting the full-length book treatment, offering an in-depth glance on the city’s nightclub trends from the 1970s to 2000s. And, in endeavouring to examine a club district that has mostly given way to condo developments in recent years, the book also promises to shed light on which gathering spaces would foreshadow gentrification trends.

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The Ward: The Life and Loss of Toronto’s First Immigrant Neighbourhood
Edited by John Lorinc, Michael McClelland, Ellen Scheinberg, and Tatum Taylor
Coach House Books, July 2015

This is where we tuck our tail between our legs and sheepishly admit that this book isn’t exactly a Spring release. But, because you can pre-order it now on Coach House’s site, we’re giving ourselves a pass. This anthology features essays by John Lorinc, Shawn Micallef, Denise Balkissoon, Edward Keenan, and many others, and chronicles the history of the city’s first immigrant neighbourhood before it made way for the current site of City Hall.