The origin story goes like this … I saw Amanda Lewis walk into the Cycle Toronto Ward Captain’s meeting and thought … She is a book person. So am I. She is a bicycle advocate. So am I. We should put this together.
I remember us meeting after work at St. James Park. We had an embarrassment of ideas because to us books and bicycles go together like peanut butter and jelly.
We continued talking after our mini picnic meeting. We got more excited. We then met at the Dark Horse Espresso Bar and within an hour we had a name, a date and a program! That was the summer of 2014.
Today. Amanda lives in Vancouver. I live in Toronto. Our sixth Book Ride is about to kick into gear. I can’t believe this is our fifth year!
The first three years we had ZERO money. NADA. Zilch. NONE. We had da best authors who agreed to ride and read for love, hugs and chocolate. In 2017, we spent hours researching and writing a grant application for Toronto Arts Council and Ontario Arts Council. The Reading Line is a non-profit but not registered. We do not have a Board of Directors. Toronto Arts Council gave us money! Ontario Arts Council did not. We hired two young men in 2017 with the TAC funding. We paid our authors. We developed a relationship with the award winning design group, Gravity Inc., who are book lovers and cyclists and gave us a non-profit discount. We amplified our efforts and reached 300 book loving people on bicycles!
Today we are about to embark on the largest Book Ride ever AND I am stressed more than I have ever been in my life.
Stress? I put myself under stress when I applied and was accepted to speak at the World Cycling Congress in Moscow, Russia in February 2018. They said да and I immediately got shingles! But I recovered and I traveled to snowy Moscow and killed it at a venue next to Gorky Park!
Sharing The Reading Line’s mission of making our city a better place, one street and one book at a time on an international stage was incredibly satisfying. The 100th anniversary of the Bloor Viaduct ride with authors writing their newcomer stories in fiction, non-fiction, memoir and graphic novel format has been incredible. Taking inspiration from Michael Ondaatje’s novel In The Skin of A Lion we have found OUR voice!
Toronto has so much happening here right? Truly … how do YOU decide to spend not only your weekend but a Monday night?!
We don’t need to continue a Book Ride on the streets of Toronto. We have an embarrassment of cultural activities here and I would rather amplify other cities and towns. I think sharing the concept in an open source format allows for sharing and building community. It is also a sustainable and scalable format unlike our current structure which includes me getting shingles.
It’s the belief of authors like Carrianne and their publicists who support a different kind of reading series like The Reading Line that makes my heart sing.
There is more to share about this year’s special expanded Book Ride which is bridging the city west to east with books and bicycles but for now … fini.