Did you know that this blog shares its name with an actual, physical Writers’ Nook? It's true!
I’m a firm believer that everything within the walls of a library is somehow a useful resource to the practice of writing, making the entire library one giant “Writer’s Nook”, but on the 4th floor of the Central branch we corral the books that are written for writers about writing.
I’ve always found it difficult to read about writing. If I want to read a book that will help me write better, I will always choose to read really good books, to see how the best make their narrative or poems work so well. But also included on the shelves of the 4th floor’s Writer’s Nook are a variety of local, national, and international literary magazines, and these are all very exciting.
These are the places where many great writers get their start.
At the library, we’re always shifting books around to make more room for collections that never stop growing. Especially here at Central, space is at a premium. That’s why I was surprised, and delighted, when the 4th floor recently made space (20 rows!) to rescue an amazing selection of Canadian literary magazines, dating all the way back to 1902.
Browsing these well-preserved original magazines is like reading a condensed history of Canadian literature. Like watching their evolution unfold right before your eyes up the current issues. Book reviews are especially interesting - to see how books were received at their time of publication, and what Canadian readers were looking for in a good book at any given time in the twentieth century. And, of course, hilarious advertisements.
Here are the 6 titles we salvaged from basement storage:
The Antigonish Review, starting with #35 (Autumn 1978) - link to Antigonish Review website
Canadian Geographic, starting with Vol. 97, #1 (Aug/Sept 1978) - link to Canadian Geographic website
(I realize this isn’t exactly a ‘literary’ magazine, but its photography, travel narratives, and hilarious advertisements are great fun to explore. In fact, here is the slogan from an advertisement off the very first page, courtesy of Smirnoff Vodka: “It felt like Europe. With a dash of Hemingway.” In a faded image below, two young women sit at a table at an outdoor café, smoking cigarettes and enjoying what is presumably a pleasant afternoon in Spain.)
The Dalhousie Review, starting with Vol. 66 (Spring/Summer 1986) - link to Dalhousie Review's website
The Malahat Review, starting with #16 (October 1970) - link to Malahat Review's website
Queen’s Quarterly, starting with Vol. X, #2 (October 1902) - link to Queen's Quarterly website
University of Toronto Quarterly, starting with Vol. 1 (October 1931) - link to U of T Quarterly's website
So the next time you're at the Central library, pop up to the 4th floor and visit our Writer's Nook to check out this sweet collection of magazines.