Glad Day Books, Toronto’s longest-running bookstore and always an awesome place to drop around and visit, has turned overnight into one of the hottest places to hang out in all of Toronto. With an espresso machine, many metres of red granite bar surface, talented bartenders, bright new tiles with neon pink grout, tables with a people-watching view of Church Street, and excellent grooves on the sound system, it is not a typical bookstore.

Like everything Glad Day, the place is one-of-a-kind, following its original community-spirited intent, giving voice to marginalized and underrepresented artists, and supporting stories you won’t find anywhere else. It’s been only a few months, but already the new Glad Day Books at 499 Church St. has hosted an incredible array of fun and intellectually-enriching events, opening their doors with the wildly popular Queer and Trans Literary Festival: Naked Heart. An on-going series of poetry nights called Poetrix has also taken form to positive acclaim, as has a Monday night Tipsy Knitting party, book launches and signings galore, Drag Shows, A Pop-Up Restaurant, and a series of well-attended board game nights that are just beginning to develop momentum.

Glad Day is managed by Scott Dagostino, and is also run by a collection of (at recent count) 34 co-owners, “spearheaded” by Michael Erickson, who has been indefatigable throughout the move and the set up. There are also a number of interesting people behind the scenes, but most visible when I visited were Radwa Auda, an inspired and gracious “front of house” presence, who not only knows her books, but in her occasional spare moments is acquiring skills to mix a mean cocktail from Lead Bartender Terence Lowe.

As I mentioned, the cocktails here are not just every day. Terence shares the main bartending responsibilities with Ahmed, also a lead. Their Cosmopolitan is incomparable, so if you enjoy cocktails try this one for sure. Also ask if they may have invented a new drink, or have an inspired twist on an old favourite.

Esther H, another presence behind the bar, serves both espressos and vodka orange with the same friendliness and flair, while Katie Sly also deftly serves drinks, discretely multi-tasking her bookstore duties while discussing literature. The beer is all local Ontario breweries, and offers organic varieties and craft beer not found elsewhere. There are sandwiches with vegan/vegetarian options, the space is accessible, and a kitchen is on its way.

Although it was lively the day we met, I finally got to chat with Terence, who is a great spokesperson for Glad Day, and who commented, “it’s about stories”, explaining how the books start conversations and interaction. He remarked that while other venues can be homogeneous, the Glad Day space transforms and is never the same, hosting events and meeting space for everyone, and changing throughout the day. He also commented that the intention is to be super-inclusive, to welcome everybody, and to make a place where you could be your whole self.

The bar opened first, on Nov 8th, and then the books arrived, carried by an army of volunteers, hundreds of boxes, continued to flood in. Many were stored in the basement, so that the place now has an abundance of volumes if you are looking for a special title, but is neatly set up with an emphasis on contemporary and new releases.
Interesting titles include Alec Butler’s book “Rough Paradise”, S McDonald’s Trans poetry memoir, “Confessions of an Empty Purse”, and several Canadian fiction books with mystery as the theme. Jessica Webb’s “Pathogen” has lesbian sleuths set in BC, and “The Jane Loop,” by Graham Jackson, is a psychological thriller set in Toronto.

Also worth racing in for is the interview series “Queer and Trans Artists of Color”, both volume 1 and 2, by Nia King, “The Remedy: Queer and Trans Voices on Health and Healthcare”, edited by Zena Sharman, “Fashionably Late, Gay, Bi and Trans Men Who Came Out Later in Life”, edited by Vinnie Kinsella, and ”This is a Book About The Kids in the Hall”, by John Semley, examining the impact on alternative comedy and pop culture that the show has exerted. There are a mountain more good reads waiting in Glad Day Books at great prices destined to transform Toronto, so get in there and drop a few dollars well-spent. A worthy book is a way of saying “I love you” to your mind.

Glad Day is also available for private event bookings.

About the Author

SK Dyment has been a cartoonist and illustrator for many years and has
been published in over two dozen Canadian indy magazines and journals. SK loves sketching passing interpretations of intriguing people in pen-and-ink, and is often seen attending various activist-oriented
events around Toronto. He is also available for quick illustrations of
all sorts as well as more serious forms of illustration. SK Dyment maintains a website @ www.graphicrecording.ca