Since it was my first time at the Salon du Livre de Montreal I had no idea what to expect. Even though I went in with no preconceived notions I was still struck by the immensity of the event. It is big! There is so much to see, experience, listen to, and to take in. In terms of square footage that you can cover as well as in sheer volume in regards to the amount of books, graphic novels, comics, etc. that are there. Let’s dive in!
Right off the top, I will let you know that the vast majority of the books found here are in French. A very small percentage of English books were on display. Even books like the recent release by former First Lady Michelle Obama was there, but in French.
The day I went happened to be Family Day at the Salon. There were plenty of parents and children there. I was amazed by how much of the Salon was dedicated to reading material for young people. Young people of all ages from toddlers to young adults. Nice to see that in this day and age of kids burying their heads into screens of some type or other that there is still an effort to get them to read. When I was young is when I fell in love with reading. It is the right time to tap into their imagination and show them how much fun reading is.
Like most events of this type there were invited guests. In this case these were the authors of the various books. Again, what I was struck by was how many were there. Tons! If you bought a book there was a good chance the person who wrote it was going to be there at some point and you could get them to sign it. Very cool!
On top of being able to get an autographed copy of a book, some of the authors also participated in discussions that happened in various locations around the Salon. Each was sponsored by a different company. I stopped by the TD area in order to listen to a talk by former NHL referee and Montreal native, Stephane Auger. We tend to know a whole lot about our sports heroes, but precious little is known about the men in black and white stripes. It was a unique opportunity.
Stephane Auger is still fairly young at 47-years-old, so it was a little surprising when he retired from the NHL in 2012. There were rumours that he had been pushed out due to several controversies involving his on ice work. He has now gone on to be a public speaker and a consultant for French language television stations carrying Montreal Canadiens’ games. Recently he became the subject of a book called Stephane Auger, Le Pouvoir du Sifflet, written by Mathias Brunet. Brunet, who works for La Presse and has written seven previous novels on hockey, was on hand to sign his book as well as acting as the moderator during Auger’s talk. Despite the fact that it was only 20 minutes long there was plenty to learn.
Auger and Brunet were just a small percentage of the authors who were going to be there over the six days of the Salon. World renowned Heather O’Neill, Dawson professor and writer Andrew Katz, former Montreal Alouettes Etienne Boulay, well known child entertainer Annie Brocoli, and biographer Jean-Yves Girard were all in attendance at different times. As many authors as there are pales in comparison to the variety of subjects covered. You could pick up books about selfies with Justin Trudeau, Yoga which aims to help with chronic pain, a guide book about fish from the Caribbean, the Stanley Cup’s birthday, monsters and ghosts, and even dopamine. All genres from biography to fantasy to fiction to cooking and back around to travel and sex.
The Salon itself is presenting several talks that will happen throughout. Again, there is something for everyone there as the talks, which vary from 25 minutes to one hour, cover such subjects as Myths and Realities about the LGBT+ Community, erotic literature, the historical novel, Female First Nations Voices, and marijuana in Canada. Several of the Salon prizes will be given out during these times as well.
Radio-Canada was also in attendance in that they had set up a temporary studio there which allowed attendees to take in some of their programming live. It also allowed us to meet their on air personalities. Several of the shows covered such relevant to the Salon subjects like audio books, Leon’s superquiz, tango and poetry, and Canadian Battle of the Books.
La Presse newspaper was also on hand. They were giving out free copies of the paper as well as affording you the opportunity to meet several of their journalists. Of particular interest to me (and many out there) were their talks on different subjects related to journalism.
A great iniative on the part of the Salon is the Lecture en Cadeau booth. There you can buy a book for a child between the ages of 0-12, who might not otherwise be able to afford books. Donation boxes were also set up throughout the Salon so if you bought a book you could drop it off there and not have to walk back to the booth.
Finally, in the Diversity Space, the theme for the talks there was Rebuilding Stories: The Voices of Resistance. Talks here included Slam Poetry: To Exist is to Resist, Schéhérazade in the Era of #MeToo, Our History was not Written for You: Translating the First Nations Realities for Whites, and The Voice of Resistance.
You still have the opportunity to go as the Salon du Livre de Montreal continues until November 19th. Information can be found on the website – www.salondulivredemontreal.com