Reading Around the Globe: Victoria in Canada
“I haven’t experienced any hurdles or barriers except for long wait times for borrowing books. I’m lucky that I’m in a position to buy books for myself (although I do limit myself). But I would prefer to borrow more than I do. I just wish that the wait times for books I want to read were lower – and that there were more opportunities to access them.”
Welcome to Reading Around the Globe, a series here on Reader Voracious Blog geared at fostering a culture of understanding in the bookish community about access to books in various countries around the world. Each post in the series highlights a full interview with one international reader. You can read more about this series and catch up on previous interviews on the master post.
* Note: after months of crunching data, I decided to move Reading Around the Globe to a different day of the week as Saturdays are a low traffic day.
- What is your name? My name is Victoria!
- Blog URL? Contended Reader
- Twitter handle? @thecontentedrea
- Where do you live? I live in Mississauga, which is a suburb of Toronto, Canada!
- Do you find that there is a culture of reading where you live? If not, tell us a bit how you came to be one! When I was younger, I didn’t think there was a culture of reading. My friends growing up were never readers and I rarely experienced readers around me – whether they be family, parents of friends etc. Since I’ve always loved reading, it made me feel like an outcast because I couldn’t find others like me. It wasn’t until I was in high school that I finally experienced a culture of reading. I met friends who read all the time, I began seeing people reading on public transit and I learned about independent bookstores and large scale bookstores in our area. Once I discovered this, I was able to find new book recommendations and talk to others who loved reading like me.
- What kinds of books do you enjoy reading? I mainly read young adult books, but I love any genre. You’ll find me reading mysteries, contemporary, romance, fantasy and anything in between. I’m also an elementary school teacher so I make an effort to read new and backlist middle grade books so I can always recommend books to my students. In terms of adult fiction, I enjoy reading contemporary and romance.
- Have you always been a reader? Absolutely! My parents read, but have never been huge readers – they’re usually too busy! But my mom made an effort to ensure that I was introduced to books at a young age. She used to volunteer in my elementary classes to help students read, and I think that helped ensure that I was always around books. But it wasn’t until high school that I truly embraced my love of books. I was finally surrounded by people who loved reading – whether they were new releases or backlist books. I could finally talk about new books I loved and fangirl with others. I also discovered that my cousin (who is also a book blogger!) was just as much of a bookworm as I was and we constantly shared recommendations to each other. Since then, my love of books has only grown stronger!
- Do you also read books published in your native language/published locally to you? If so, tell us a bit about what kinds of books are published in your country! I only speak English, but Canada is extremely multicultural and is a bilingual country! Books are available in French in our large scale book store (Indigo Chapters) but it’s usually a very small section (at least at my local store). I feel like these books should be more readily available, especially since a large portion of our population speak French. While I’m not certain, I think there are options for books in different languages, since we’re so multicultural, but I feel like once again, it’s on a smaller scale.
- Are there libraries where you live? If so, what kinds of books can you find there? Are you able to get the books that you want? There are definitely a lot of libraries where I live. In terms of my house, I can get to two within 5 minutes, and even more within 10-20 minutes. I find that you have to library hop sometimes to get the books you want, and I definitely make use of their online catalogue to help figure out where the books I want are located. I make use of the Mississauga Library System as well as another suburb close by, the Milton Library System. Milton is a small, but growing city, and I find I have more success getting the books I want through them. There aren’t as many wait times. But I’m only able to use this library system because I am a teacher in their district. With the Libby/Overdrive app, I can sometimes be waiting months for a copy of a book. I wish that there were more opportunities to access these books because it sometimes forces me to purchase a book, because I have to wait so long.
- How prevalent are English published books where you live in bookstores? (For example, books printed by HarperCollins.) They’re extremely prevalent and readily available at independent and large scale bookstores as well as libraries.
- Do you use NetGalley or Edelweiss to request electronic galleys for review? If so, what kind of success rate would you estimate for you personally? I use NetGalley and have a reasonable success rate for electronic galleys, in my opinion. I don’t get access to all the books I request though. I’ve used Edelweiss a few times, and have never been successfully in gaining access to a review copy. I don’t really use it anymore, except to look at publisher catalogues. I have far more success in receiving physical review copies.
- Do you experience hurdles or barriers to access for the kinds of books that you read? Please explain if so. I haven’t experienced any hurdles or barriers except for long wait times for borrowing books. I’m lucky that I’m in a position to buy books for myself (although I do limit myself). But I would prefer to borrow more than I do. I just wish that the wait times for books I want to read were lower – and that there were more opportunities to access them. Since I’m a mood reader, it’s hard because if I request a book and need to wait months, by the time I get to it, I sometimes don’t want to read it anymore or don’t have the time to fit it into my schedule.
- If you could make one change to the publishing landscape, what would you do? I think there is a lot of favouritism in publishing, especially in terms of their relationships with book bloggers and influencers. I often see the same people getting opportunities for giveaways, cover reveals, interviews etc – especially with big name authors. I think it’s important for publishers to understand that it’s not always about the numbers. You can be a small scale blogger and still have a lot of reach.
- Help other international bloggers out… What resources do you use to obtain the books that you want to read? I absolutely love Book Outlet – which I’m sure a lot of people are aware of. It’s a great way to get books for a cheap price. I’m lucky because I can drive to their retail store as well as use their online store, but there are so many great options. While you sometimes have to wait for the newer releases, I think it’s still worth it for books you want to add to your personal library; it’s also great for teachers! I also love using Edelweiss for their publisher catalogues. I do a feature on my blog highlighting new releases for readers, and these catalogues are extremely helpful in finding new books I’m interested in and want to highlight on my blog!
- Do you have any other experiences as a reader around the world that you would like to share? I can’t think of anything super important. But I think it’s important for others to realize that there is such a large scale book community and culture online. It wasn’t until book blogging that I realized you could surround yourself with others who are so similar. I’ve made amazing bookish friends, and I think it’s a great opportunity for readers all over the world to interact with each other!
Please note that all experiences reflected in the interviews are personal and are not meant to generalize what reading access is like in each country. If you are interested in participating please DM me on Twitter.
Let’s go on another adventure together!