The Blogerati Files: BookLust

This week in the Blogerati Files, BookLust

Describe your blog in 10 words or less.
The most apt description of my blog 'BookLust' is probably it's subtitle: A bibliophile's musings on books, cartoons, art and stuff.

Why did you start your blog? Blogiversary?
I wanted to be a part of a bigger conversation concerning the things that interested me: books, writing and the publishing industry. And since I am a freelance cartoonist and illustrator, I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to share my art with people all over the world.

My blog's birthday is May 4, 2004. Just a little over 2 years old.

How long have you lived in Toronto?
I've lived in Toronto for 17 years.

What's the funniest/strangest thing that has happened to you in Toronto? Did you blog about it?
A lot of funny/strange things have happened to me over the years in this city. It's so hard to pick just one! The most recent story happened last month; this interesting old European character whom I often see walking in the Bloor West Village, and whom I have never spoken to before, propositioned me to make love to him. When I explained that my husband wouldn't appreciate this, he replied: "Nobody see! Nobody know!" The guy was at least seventy!

And yes, I blogged about it, for sure! I have a category called 'Seen in the Village' in which I write about all my unique experiences hanging out in The Bloor West Village. Naturally I illustrate these stories!

What are some of the changes in Toronto that you have seen in your lifetime?
The one change that really breaks my heart is the gradual change of The Bloor West Village. When I first moved to the west end of the city, The Bloor West Village was chock-full of unique stores, bakeries, movie theatres and delicatessens. Because of the high cost of rent and taxes, some of these stores have either closed or moved to other neighbourhoods. We've lost the Runnymede Theatre, the Humber Odeon Theatre, The Cheese Boutique, and now the wonderful store Durie Lane is closing at the end of May. The Bloor West Village is still beautiful and unique, but I fear that over time it may lose its unique flavour, as more mainstream stores move in.

What era, day or event in Toronto's history would you like to re-live and why?
Not an event per se, but I'd love to go back to the time in Toronto when we were still overflowing with independent and secondhand bookstores.

Who's your favourite Torontonian?
Jane Jacobs, bless her soul.

Can we believe everything you post on your blog?
I couldn't lie; my mother reads my blog and she'd never let me hear the end of it, if I made something up. She already gets me for my spelling and grammatical errors!

Has blogging changed you or enhanced a personality trait?
Yes, I would say that blogging has changed me, for the good, I think. My creative skills have improved, because I'm constantly thinking about what I'm going to write and draw. It's also made me much more aware of my surroundings, so that I can blog about all these unique stories that take place in our city.

Do you have a favourite post from your blog?
The one when I posted my first comic strip in my 'Art Imitating Lit' series, which is a light-hearted comic strip satire on the writing and publishing world. My first strip in the series, 'The Amazing Adventures of Lethem and Chabon' satirized the writers Michael Chabon, Jonathan Lethem and Jonathan Franzen. The response from the strip online was amazing! And I actually got emails from Michael Chabon and Jonathan Lethem telling me how much they loved the strip. That was such a thrill, and an honour.

Have you had your 15 minutes yet?
I guess so. Last year I was invited to be one of the guests on Rex Murphy's 'Cross Country Check-Up', on the bi-annual book show. I love Rex Murphy, so it was so exciting to be on the radio, talking to him about my blog, and some of my favourite books!

Ever met a stranger who already knew you through your blog? How was that?
Yes! I've become friends with a lovely lady named Hadas. She's orignally from Tel Aviv, and had recently moved to Toronto with her husband and son, and out of the blue she emailed me and invited me to her home for lunch, just from reading my blog! The gal has chutzpah, that's for sure. I could have been some wacko nut! Hadas is a talented photographer, and has a blog, too, called 'The Bubble'.

On another occasion I was invited by the very talented author Ami McKay ('The Birth House') to attend her book launch, which was hosted by Random House Canada. It was also the tenth year anniversary party for Random House's New Face of Fiction series, so quite a few well-known Canadian authors were in attendance. I had never met Ami in person before this event; she simply invited me based on reading my blog. It was an amazing night, and Ami is a delightful person. Oh, and yes, Ami has a blog, too!

Lose any friends or muck something up because of a post?
Well, I've only had to delete one post so far, because it was causing me a bit of trouble. I wrote what I thought was a light-hearted humorous story about my experience many years ago, when I took a life drawing course, and how the male model had a very, um, large appendage, and how it made it very difficult to draw him. Most of the people who commented gave great responses, but every now and then I would get emails from guys who wanted to pose nude for me, or talk about the stresses of posing nude in front of women, and I really didn't want to get into those kind of conversations with strangers, so sadly I had to delete the post. Lesson learned: don't write about penises on my blog.

Who are your fav bloggers?
I'd rather not name any specific blogs, because I'd have to leave people out, and then I'd feel terrible. Just take a gander at my blogroll !

What's happening in Toronto right now that the rest of us should be watching?
I recently read in the news that there is a new independent bookstore which has opened up on 883 Queen St. W. called 'Type'. Can you believe it? I think that's so exciting, the fact that we've got a new independent bookstore opening up in the city, even when all around us independent bookstores are suffering. I hope the store does well. I haven't had a chance to visit it yet, but I will very soon! Oh, and it's run by a couple of women, which just rocks my world.

You have the opportunity to gather with 5 of your regular readers - who are they, where do you meet and what do you talk about?
Ok, I'll list 5, but I could name plenty more! So apologies to those I don't mention.

The esteemed RJ, of Daily Blague fame.
The witty and wonderful Isabella of Magnificent Octopus.
The wise beyond her years Arethusa of Stalkers Not Allowed.
The effervescent Cipriano of Bookpuddle.
The charming and talented Illiana of BookGirl's Nightstand.

We meet at The Algonquin Hotel in New York and talk about books and writing and lots of literary gossip.

Have you ever had a question you wanted to ask random people throughout the world?
Oh, I've had plenty of questions I'd like to ask. And now that I have a blog, I can do just that! I have a category on my blog called 'BiblioQueria' in which I ask book-related questions to my readers. The responses are always so much fun to read!

If your blog were a food, what food would it be?
What an interesting question! Hmmmm.... I would be a grilled cheese sandwich. For me, that's down-to-earth comfort food, and I hope that's what my blog is for those who read it.

If you could gather all of the bloggers of the world together into one room and tell them one thing, what would it be?
Ignore the naysayers who trash blogs and blogging (especially all those darn print people!). Blogging isn't just about a collection of self-involved people writing about their dull lives; there are a multitude of talented, intelligent bloggers out there, sharing amazing ideas all around the world. You just have to look for them.

Anything else you'd like to add...
Just that for me, blogging has been an amazing and positive experience. I've met so many wonderful people, and learned so much through blogging. I truly believe that it takes a blogosphere to connect with the world.

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