I’m a classic introvert – I love to spend an evening curled up with a good book and with my BlackBerry at my side. That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy going out but it’s not something I *have* to do. Still, when my awesome friend Wanda Lynne Young posted a contest for the Book Lover’s Ball After Dark party on the Bookalicious blog on the Yummy Mummy Club website I had to enter. I’ve spent many a day at the Toronto Reference Library and the chance to spend an evening there was too good to pass up!
I didn’t win the tickets, but then the winner couldn’t make it and suddenly I could go! I had less than 6 hours’ notice to get ball ready but rushing around made for an even more exciting evening.
I arrived just as the party was starting, in fact those who had attended the dinner before hand were still eating so I took the opportunity to wander around and check out the main floor. The first ‘character’ I met was Harry Potter – appropriately doing some magic tricks. I chatted with him for a bit and went to sample some of the food and drink on offer.
The signature cocktail for the evening was the Book Lover’s Ball 10th Anniversary Old-Fashioned. It was sophisticated and very tasty. The sliders were excellent, the mini pulled pork divine, and the desserts were sumptuous and small enough that I could sample more than one.
I checked out the Adopt a branch library and pop up store where there were some seriously cute book totes and other merchandise available with a donation to the Toronto Public Library . I went to the Digital Innovation Hub and talked to some very knowledgeable people about the 3D printers and learned about 3D printing at the Toronto Public Library. I watched a few people have a 3D scan of themselves done too – it is really cool technology. I wandered through the TD Gallery’s Freedom City exhibit – while I was waiting for Wanda to be finished with dinner and my friend who was arriving separately to arrive.
Then I met up with Wanda and we had our picture taken in the photo booth. (I’d like to state for the record that the photo was not my idea, You all know I’m not a fan of having my picture taken but I couldn’t say no to Wanda). We refreshed our drinks and watched the dancing on the dance floor for a few minutes while deciding where to go next. After finding a few more people for our group, including Wanda’s lovely sister Kara, we went up to the 5th floor for the Library Mystery tour. What a surprise to find Doctor Watson in the Arthur Conan Doyle Room. The room is a vision of Sherlock Holmes’ study at 221 B Baker street and it is furnished to look like it is 1895. I am a huge Sherlock Holmes fan. I have read every one of his adventures multiple times, have seen most of the TV / Movie incarnations of the famous detective and have been to the Arthur Conan Doyle Room a few times while on scholarly visits to the Baldwin Room (Where the Canadiana is held). The Arthur Conan Doyle room never fails to impress me with the sheer magnitude of the collection. There are thousands of items in a relatively small space. Doctor Watson was ever so helpful to everyone, explaining the 4 special items on display.
These items were on the table with a Toronto Reference Library staff member on hand to answer questions and tell us some details about the collection. With some exceptions, books are not expensive collectables – most can be found for under a thousand dollars, but the sheer number of books in the Arthur Conan Doyle room – different editions of the beloved stories from around the world – is staggering. Sherlock finally made an appearance and posed for some pictures with his adoring public.
I reluctantly left the Arthur Conan Doyle Room (I could spend a month in there!) and went and looked at the other rare books on display, before heading back down to the second floor to try out the Celebrity Author Speed Scrabble. After a quick stop for some popcorn in the TD Library Lounge, we explored the Book Pod Gallery. There were 5 Pods, each depicting a piece of Canadian Literature. They were stunningly lit up for the event (I must admit that The Handmaid’s Tale one was a little spooky!) and I’m proud to say that I’ve read all the books depicted in them.
Having woven our way through the book pods, we found ourselves at the Celebrity Author Speed Scrabble. Our opponent was Andrew Pyper – and as we sat down to our 5 minute battle, he told us that he was win-less that evening. I felt bad for him, but not bad enough to throw a game of Scrabble! We started off with an 80 point bingo and the game went downhill from there. He was very gracious in defeat. I have since read one of his books and feel a bit worse about beating him so soundly.
I was hoping to meet Jennifer Robson since I adored her books Somewhere in France and After the War is Over or Marissa Stapley, whose book Mating For Life, I had read for a Bookalicious Book club chat, but in hindsight it would have been harder to destroy them at Scrabble.
After our 5 minute game of scrabble (that lasted a few extra minutes since it was the final one of the night), I went over to the Prose Store. I got a custom piece of poetry from the Spontaneous Prose Store. I love the idea of this. Kaile H. Glick (the spontaneous prose writer) was sitting at a table with her typewriter, some carbon paper, and some sticky labels. I went up to her, chatted a bit, and then she asked what I’d like my prose to be about. At a loss, I tossed out Doctor Who. (It’s my general fall back and a good test of a person’s geek credentials). She smiled and started typing. I adore the sound of words being written on a typewriter, past experience has taught me that I should not use a typewriter as I like to rearrange words and not have to rewrite the whole piece, but I appreciate the sound of others typing. Two minutes later, this is what she came up with:
The fact that there are smudges from the carbon paper makes it even more excellent. If you want some spontaneous prose of your own, Kaile has a website where you can order her books and even book her for your own event!
My next stop in the prose store was the Type Face Literary portrait. There was a good half hour wait for this, so my friend Heidi and I got to catch up which is always awesome. The time flew by and it was my turn to be interviewed by Matthew J. Trafford. We talked for a few minutes about what I liked to do, and I was the first one all night to have a pet which excited him to no end. Then I went back and talked with my friends for a few more minutes. Then I was handed an envelope. Which I opened immediately, because I was curious. (Heidi was doing her interview while I was opening my envelope). Matthew has a way with words that I seldom see in a quick write, he only had time for one draft and then he copied it out on the good paper ready for framing. This is what he came up with:
By this time it was after midnight and so, like Cinderella, I had to leave the ball. After getting my winter gear at coat check, I stopped off at the Bedtime Stories booth for a warm cup of hot chocolate before heading back into the cold, and got a new book to read courtesy of Harlequin. My only regret on the night was that it wasn’t long enough. I hope the Toronto Public Library Foundation hosts another After Dark party next year. If you’re a bibliophile like me, this is a can’t miss event.