One of the cool things about the second semester of Trent’s Public Texts program is that on the occasional Friday, we get to go on field trips.
This past Friday (…yesterday) we boarded our magical bus and made our way to Toronto. First stop: the Thomas Fisher Rare Books Library, an absolute must-see for book lovers everywhere. Not only is the library itself gorgeous, but it’s… humbling to be surrounded by texts that have existed for centuries, and will continue to exist long after you’re gone. If nothing else, I gained a genuine appreciation of books as a constantly evolving form of technology.
After ogling the stacks, we were given a special tour and shown a variety of texts used throughout book history. This included the chance to check out some medical texts which I’m pretty sure caused that unsettling dream I had last night.
Once we were finished at Thomas Fisher, we made our way over to Coach House Books, a publishing house in the heart of Toronto dedicated to “pushing at the frontiers of the book with our innovative fiction, poetry, film and drama, and select non-fiction” (from their “About Us” page). I knew I’d love this place before we even stepped inside because right outside the building, located on bpNichol Lane, there is this:
I loved Coach House. It’s this amazingly indie-esque house packed literally to the rafters with books and printing presses (take the tour here), and it even has a chair that William S. Burroughs once passed out in (from all the drugs, I assume). We were given the opportunity to watch the process of a book being made by a friendly staff that just exuded all things literary, intelligent, cultural and “cool” in general. The next time I need to go to a mental happy place, this is what I’m picturing.
Side note: you know that giddy-like feeling you get, when you find a new book that you know you’re absolutely going to love and you can’t believe you’ve lived this long without it being in your life and ALL YOU WANT TO DO IS READ IT SO EVERYONE JUST SHUSH? It’s been a while since I’ve experienced that, but in Coach House it happened. All I had was my debit card so I couldn’t buy it right then and there, but I’ve ordered it online and it’s arriving soon and I can’t wait! All hail Coach House. Apparently they take interns… interesting.