A personal challenge

September 19, 2009 by · 1 Comment 

When I had this house built – I’d bought the land first, with the initial trickle of money I’d accumulated after opening Sophia’s – the bookshelves were designed for more than just a few books: I wanted a library large enough to double as a personal challenge. Qualitatively I was fine, owned maybe two hundred good editions in total, each volume individually purchased with the understanding that you eat what’s in front of you and don’t ask for more until your plate has been scraped and scoured clean. But good intentions rarely make it past the age of forty. Halfway to the tomb, it doesn’t matter so much anymore that you’re not likely to get through all eight volumes of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire or that Boswell’s Life of Johnson‘s two thousand pages are probably a thousand more than you’re ever going to read. Life’s sundial suddenly way past noon, time’s ticking shadow makes it absolutely essential to acquire every book that’s ever been written that’s worth reading, if not to actually read, then at least to call one’s own. I promised myself on my fortieth birthday that I would not die without a copy of Plutarch’s Lives of the Poets left among my worldly possessions. When the time came for indifferent strangers to haul my lifeless body out the back door of my home, I wanted it made perfectly clear that I was a man who had possessed the best that has been thought and said.

David by Ray Robertson

And speaking of “the best that has been thought and said”:


Canadian history has no shortage of underexposed dramatic tales featuring captivating, complex characters. But Canadian literature boasts but a handful of genuinely dynamic renderings of these events. Why did the historical novel become a place where our country’s real life adventures go to whither and die? And how can we reverse this trend? At the launch of his latest novel, David (Thomas Allen Publishers), noted author Ray Robertson will crack open these Can Lit chestnuts with Steven W. Beattie, Review Editor at Quill and Quire. Bidiniband will perform a live set based on their acclaimed debut album, This Land Is Wild.

Gladstone Hotel Ballroom, 1214 Queen St. West, Toronto

Wed Sept 23; 7:30 pm (Doors 7pm) $5 Cover (Free with Book Purchase)


One Response to “A personal challenge”
  1. patricia says:

    Looking forward to it!