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July 27, 2018
Toronto has a rich literary community with many options for places to read, buy books, or talk about them. Books Around Town is a series that describes some of the city’s most popular places for book nerds to gather and share their love of reading.
Bookstores have evolved from being just a place to buy books to cultural hubspots for community events. A Different Booklist is a prime example of how a simple bookstore could launch a cultural centre.
A Different Booklist was opened in 1995 by Dr Wesley Crichlow, a professor of Caribbean-Canadian gay and lesbian studies, as a shop for academic books from his field. It was purchased from him in 1998 by Itah Sadu and Miguel San Vincente and expanded what kind of books they’d sell. The shop now includes African and Caribbean fictional and nonfictional literature across all kinds of genres. Since then, they have become a popular venue for film nights, open mics, book launches, and more.
In 2017, they had to move from their original location at 746 Bathurst Street to a temporary location at 777 Bathurst Street due to the Mirvish Village building project. However, they are currently trying to raise funds to relocate to a more permanent location at Bloor St. W and Markham St. If you want to support A Different Booklist’s hopefully final move, you can buy a membership to the People’s Residence. Purchasing a membership gives access to discounts on products, nearby restaurants, and rental space at the store, among other perks.
The People’s Residence is a cultural centre that is hosted within A Different Booklist’s space. They host different programming including children’s programming, to help teach young kids how to present stories, music, and poetry to children under the age of 14 in a non-competitive environment. There is also the Blackhurst Gallery, which is meant to showcase visual art from African and Caribbean Toronto artists.
A Different Booklist is one of the few independent bookstores in Toronto still thriving, largely in part because of their community efforts. So if you’re looking for books or you’re looking for community, you will find both beyond their doors.