Gretchen McCulloch and Ryan North Discuss Because Internet
6:00 PM18:00

Gretchen McCulloch and Ryan North Discuss Because Internet

Gretchen McCulloch

Gretchen McCulloch

Flying Books and Penguin Random House Canada invite you to join a conversation between Gretchen McCulloch, author of New York Times bestseller Because Internet: Understanding the New Rules of Language, and Ryan North, author of How to Invent Everything.

Because Internet is a fascinating exploration of how the internet is changing the English language, why that's a good thing, and what our online interactions reveal about who we are.

Language is humanity's most spectacular open-source project, and the internet is making our language change faster and in more interesting ways than ever before. From the grammar of status updates to the protocols of comments and @replies, the apps and platforms we use shape and influence our online conversations. They also help spread new slang and jargon with incredible speed. And since social media is a vast laboratory of unedited, unfiltered words, we can watch language evolve in real time.

Internet linguist Gretchen McCulloch is watching this evolution more closely than anyone, and her fascinating book reveals the deep forces that shape human language and influence the way we communicate with one another. She explains how your first social internet experience influences whether you prefer "LOL" or "lol," why ~sparkly tildes~ became the preferred punctuation to indicate irony, what emoji have in common with physical gestures, what made animal memes like lolcats and doggo so ubiquitous, and so much more.

GRETCHEN McCULLOCH writes the Resident Linguist column at Wired. She has a Master’s in Linguistics from McGill University, runs the blog All Things Linguistic, and cohosts Lingthusiasm, a podcast that’s enthusiastic about linguistics. She lives in Montreal, and also on the internet.

Ryan North

Ryan North

RYAN NORTH is the writer responsible for the award-winning Dinosaur Comics. His most recent book, How to Invent Everything, is nothing less than a complete cheat sheet for civilization. He lives in Toronto.

Please join us!
Tuesday, September 3, 2019
The Ossington, 61 Ossington Ave, Toronto


“Gretchen McCulloch is the internet’s favorite linguist, and this book is essential reading. Reading her work is like suddenly being able to see the matrix.” —Jonny Sun, author of everyone's a aliebn when ur a aliebn too

“McCulloch is such a disarming writer—lucid, friendly, unequivocally excited about her subject—that I began to marvel at the flexibility of the online language she describes, with its numerous shades of subtlety.” —The New York Times

“McCulloch’s book is a good start in guiding readers to consider the wild language of the internet as a thing of wonder — a valuable feature, not a bug.” —The Wall Street Journal

“[An] effervescent study of how the digital world is transfiguring English. . . . [McCulloch’s] almost political thesis — the more voices, the better — rebukes both the élitism of traditional grammar snobs and the cliquishness of, say, Tumblr. It’s a vision of language as one way to make room for one another.” —The New Yorker

“Rather than obsessing about what the internet is doing to language, [Because Internet] largely focuses on what can be learned about language from the internet. . . . McCulloch's book is about the birth of a new medium.” —The Economist

“A well-researched retort to grumpy grammarians who think technology is turning kids into lazy, inarticulate drivelers.” —Time

“A compelling narrative rich with examples from her own online activities, a healthy dose of humor, and plenty of cat memes… the breadth of topics covered — from conversation analysis to meme culture to the development of texting as we now know it — makes this book useful, engaging, and enjoyable.”

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Amber Scorah & Claudia Dey on Leaving the Witness
6:00 PM18:00

Amber Scorah & Claudia Dey on Leaving the Witness


Flying Books and Penguin Random House Canada invite you to celebrate the publication of Amber Scorah's acclaimed new book, LEAVING THE WITNESS: EXITING A RELIGION AND FINDING A LIFE. The religion in question is the Jehovah's Witnesses, which Amber comes to realize while preaching in China is a cult.

Amber will be in conversation with Claudia Dey, author of the bestselling Trillium Award finalist, HEARTBREAKER, which features a mysterious fictional cult in Northern Ontario.

A third-generation Jehovah's Witness, Amber Scorah had devoted her life to sounding God's warning of impending Armageddon. She volunteered to take the message to China, where the preaching she did was illegal and could result in her expulsion or worse. Here, she had some distance from her community for the first time. Immersion in a foreign language and culture — and a whole new way of thinking — turned her world upside down, and eventually led her to lose all that she had been sure was true.

As a proselytizer in Shanghai, using fake names and secret codes to evade the authorities' notice, Scorah discreetly looked for targets in public parks and stores. To support herself, she found work at a Chinese language learning podcast, hiding her real purpose from her coworkers. Now with a creative outlet, getting to know worldly people for the first time, she began to understand that there were other ways of seeing the world and living a fulfilling life. When one of these relationships became an "escape hatch," Scorah's loss of faith culminated in her own personal apocalypse, the only kind of ending possible for a Jehovah's Witness.

Shunned by family and friends as an apostate, Scorah was alone in Shanghai and thrown into a world she had only known from the periphery — with no education or support system. A coming of age story of a woman already in her thirties, this unforgettable memoir examines what it's like to start one's life over again with an entirely new identity. It follows Scorah to New York City, where a personal tragedy forces her to look for new ways to find meaning in the absence of religion. With compelling, spare prose, Leaving the Witness traces the bittersweet process of starting over, when everything one's life was built around is gone.

AMBER SCORAH is a writer living in Brooklyn, NY. She works as an editor at Scholastic and her articles have been published in The New York Times, and The Believer. Scorah has lived in Shanghai, where she was creator and host of the wildly popular podcast Dear Amber - The Insider's Guide to Everything China.

CLAUDIA DEY is the author of the acclaimed novels HEARTBREAKER and STUNT. Her plays have been produced internationally and nominated for the Governor General’s and Trillium Book Awards. Her writing has appeared in The Believer, Lit Hub and The Paris Review. Dey is also co-designer of Horses Atelier.

Wednesday, July 10, 6 PM
The Ossington, 61 Ossington Ave, Toronto

"A fascinating glimpse into the consciousness of being an outsider in every possible way, and what it takes to find your path into the life you'd like to lead."

"À la Tara Westover's Educated, Scorah's pensive, ultimately liberating memoir chronicles her formative years as a Jehovah's Witness...and captures the bewilderment of belief and the bliss of self-discovery...[Leaving the Witness] is a suture for anyone searching to reconcile their past and present selves."
—O, The Oprah Magazine

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Come to a Make Ink Demo and Signing with Jason Logan
12:00 PM12:00

Come to a Make Ink Demo and Signing with Jason Logan


Jason Logan is a wildly talented artist who forages from Toronto’s railbeds, ravines, parks, and gutters to create ink — the true lifeblood of civilization. This gorgeous book shows how he does it, and he’s signing copies and demonstrating his inks in action this Sunday at Flying Books: 1080 Queen St W, 12 PM.


Photos: Lauren Kolyn

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The Personality Brokers: Emily M. Keeler in Conversation with Merve Emre about Her New Book
6:30 PM18:30

The Personality Brokers: Emily M. Keeler in Conversation with Merve Emre about Her New Book


Flying Books and Random House Canada invite you to celebrate the publication of Merve Emre's acclaimed new book, The Personality Brokers: The Strange History of Myers-Briggs and the Birth of Personality Testing.

Whether you're an ESTJ, INFP, a different combination of these letters, or have no idea what they mean, come hear Emily M. Keeler talk with Merve about this amazing book, which, at its heart, is about what makes you YOU. 

If you've ever applied for a job or used an online dating platform, chances are you've encountered the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator; but how and why have so many organizations come to put so much stock in it? Did you know the MBTI was created by mother-daughter team Katherine Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers, two aspiring novelists who aimed to bring the gospel of Carl Jung to the masses? 

Drawing from original reporting and never-before-published documents, Emre takes a critical look at the test that became not only a cultural icon, but also a tool to define the self by way of multiple choice. 

MERVE EMRE is an associate professor of English at the University of Oxford. She is the author of Paraliterary: The Making of Bad Readers in Postwar America. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The New Yorker, Harper’s Magazine, Bookforum, The New Republic, The Baffler, n+1, and the Los Angeles Review of Books.

Emily M. Keeler

Emily M. Keeler

EMILY M. KEELER is a Toronto writer, the Vice President of PEN Canada, and the series editor of Exploded Views at Coach House Books. She has been an editor at the National Post, Hazlitt, The Walrus, Joyland, and The New Inquiry, and has written for the Guardian, Globe and Mail, Toronto Life, Maisonneuve, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and the Los Angeles Times.

Monday, September 17, 6:30 PM
The Ossington, 61 Ossington Ave., Toronto


". . . inventive and beguiling . . . The Personality Brokers is history that reads like biography that reads like a novel — a fluid narrative that defies expectations and plays against type."
New York Times

“This is a sparkling biography—not just of a pair of remarkable women, but of a popular personality tool. Merve Emre deftly exposes the hidden origins of the MBTI and the seductive appeal and fatal flaws of personality types. Ultimately, she reveals that a sense of self is less something we discover, and more something we create and revise.”
—Adam Grant, New York Times bestselling author of Give and Take, Originals, and Option B with Sheryl Sandberg

“Genius, passion, insight, love, heartbreak, war, family, competition, corporate villainy: the story of the Myers-Briggs personality assessment, and the extraordinary mother-daughter duo who conceived and developed it, has all the stuff of a great novel, with the added advantage that it’s true. Chances are you didn’t know that Myers and Briggs were women. In the tradition of Hidden Figures, this brilliant book proves—yet again—that women were behind some of the most important scientific innovations of wartime and postwar America. I absolutely love it.”
—Liza Mundy, author of the national bestseller Code Girls

“Merve Emre pulls back the curtain on the world of personality testing and the mother-daughter duo whose work catapulted the field into a movement. The Personality Brokers is a fluid mix of history, research, and first hand reporting that speaks to both true believers and skeptics alike. With her engaging and persuasive narrative, Emre elucidates how personality testing became a cultural force, one whose influence persists.”
—Nathalia Holt, New York Times bestselling author of Rise of the Rocket Girls

“Scholar and trenchant literary critic Emre uses archival research to tell this story, revealing the fictions woven into a supposedly ‘scientific’ instrument.”
The Millions

“An illuminating dual biography…Emre has dug deeply into published and archival sources to produce a deft, gracefully written account of Katherine Briggs and her daughter Isabel Myers…a discerning history of the quest for self-knowledge.”
Kirkus Reviews

“[Emre] tells the fascinating story of the origins of the world’s most widely used personality test…she is excellent at recounting how the MBTI began to sweep American institutions in the 1950s. [A] fine study.”
Publishers Weekly

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How to Talk to People about Things Presents: David McRaney in Conversation with Misha Glouberman
7:00 PM19:00

How to Talk to People about Things Presents: David McRaney in Conversation with Misha Glouberman


How do we change our minds? Why does it seem so hard? What makes people believe crazy things? And what happens when they do change their minds?

David McRaney’s upcoming book looks at all these questions and more.

He talks to anti-vaxxers, to people who joined (and left) cults, to former members of the Westboro Baptist Church, and to a group of activists who have developed strategies to shift opinions through conversation and listening. He connects all these stories to new and fascinating research on how opinions form and change.

David is the creator of the very popular You Are Not So Smart podcast, blog, and books. He’ll be joined in conversation by communication expert Misha Glouberman of How to Talk to People About Things and the Trampoline Hall lecture series.

What does it take to disrupt a deeply-rooted belief or way of thinking? How did a country change its views on same-sex marriage in just a few years? Together, Misha and David will discuss the intricacies of influence and unpack the fascinating relationship between facts, attitudes, beliefs, and the ever-shifting landscape of public opinion, social progress, and change.

Tickets are $15
($12 for alumni of How to Talk to People About Things)
Tickets go on sale April 11

For more information:
Facebook event here

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Jane Says: A Reading for the People of Downtown Toronto
7:00 PM19:00

Jane Says: A Reading for the People of Downtown Toronto

If the downtown of tomorrow looks like most of the redevelopment projects being planned for it today, it will end up a monumental bore. But downtown could be made lively and exciting – and it’s not too hard to find out how. – Jane Jacobs

While housing costs in Toronto continue to rise, the people of the city have been pushing back. Right now, residents in Parkdale are in the second month of a strike against unlawful rent hikes and unliveable conditions. Kensington Market residents led protests against short-term rental companies, like Airbnb, that have been pushing out long-term renters. And reactions to a certain magazine piece about a “crack house” reno have gone viral.

But these fights are nothing new. Didn’t Jane Jacobs teach those running this city anything? Toronto was the adopted home of the prolific urban studies journalist and activist, who prevented city-killing developments like the Spadina Expressway. Jacobs may have been writing about a different era, but her basic philosophy is as relevant today as ever: cities are for everybody (not just the rich), and downtown is for the people. We think it’s time for a Jacobs revisit.

Flying Books will be at the Cadillac Lounge on June 27th for a sprint reading of Jane Jacobs’s seminal 1958 essay, “Downtown Is for People.” All proceeds will go to ACORN Canada.

NAVNEET ALANG writes about modern technoculture for Hazlitt, the Globe & Mail, The New Republic, and The Atlantic.

LYNN CROSBIE is a Parkdale Lifer, given to yelling at the new Metro, “There goes the neighbourhood!” Her new book of poems is called The Corpses of the Future.

ANNA FITZPATRICK is a writer living in Kensington Market.

BARBARA GOWDY is a three-time finalist for the Governor General’s Award and the author of The White Bone, Helpless, The Romantic, Little Sister, and others.

SARAH HAGI is a staff writer for Vice, and is really, really good at Twitter.

ETERNITY MARTIS is an award-winning journalist and editor whose work has been featured in The Walrus, the Fader, Complex, Canadaland, Hazlitt, and elsewhere.

ALIYA PABANI is the host of The Imposter, an arts and culture podcast from Canadaland.

MARTHA SHARPE is an editor and the owner of Flying Books.

ASTRA TAYLOR is the director of documentaries (Zizek! and Examined Life), writer (The People’s Platform), and a founder of Rolling Jubilee, a campaign that buys and abolishes debt.

MIRIAM TOEWS is the Governor General’s Award-winning, two-time Giller Prize-nominated author of A Complicated Kindness and All My Puny Sorrows.

VIDAL WU is the Editorial Resident at Canadian Art and has written for TIFF, Vice and Vocativ.

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Sagan Editions + Flying Books Holiday Pop-Up + Party
to Dec 21

Sagan Editions + Flying Books Holiday Pop-Up + Party


Sagan Editions & Flying Books invite you to celebrate our inaugural pop-up, "Staff Picks," on Thursday, December 1st, from 6 to 8 PM, at the Likely General, 389 Roncesvalles Ave.

Sagan Editions artists have teamed up with Flying Books to select books that inspire them. Their picks will be available for sale alongside their editions at the Likely General from November 28 to December 21.

Available artist prints and editions by:
Hannah Enkel, Heather Goodchild, Layne Hinton, Mani Mazinani, Darby Milbrath, Alicia Nauta, Lido Pimienta, Danielle Suppa, Margaux Williamson, and Naomi Yasui.

Thursday, December 1, 6:00 - 8:00 PM
~ Refreshments ~

Books and editions available for sale
Monday, November 28 to Monday, December 21

The Likely General
389 Roncesvalles Ave., Toronto

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Our Brilliant Friend: Discussing Elena Ferrante
6:30 PM18:30

Our Brilliant Friend: Discussing Elena Ferrante

Flying Books is delighted to co-host the launch of Frantumaglia, by Elena Ferrante, author of the internationally bestselling, zeitgeist-forming Neapolitan Quartet at HotDocs Ted Rogers Cinema in Toronto. Ferrante's brilliant translator, New Yorker editor Ann Goldstein, will discuss Ferrante and her body of work with novelist and Globe and Mail columnist Elizabeth Renzetti.

Frantumaglia: A Writer’s Journey is a collection of Ferrante’s non-fiction writing. Renzetti and Goldstein will discuss what makes the Italian author’s work so lucid and impossible to put down, as well as what it’s like to work with an anonymous author, and much more. You’ll never get closer to meeting Ferrante than through these two outstanding women.

Tuesday, November 15, 6:30 PM
HotDocs Ted Rogers Cinema
506 Bloor St. W, Toronto

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Mark Greif & Sheila Heti on AGAINST EVERYTHING
7:00 PM19:00

Mark Greif & Sheila Heti on AGAINST EVERYTHING

Flying Books and Pantheon are pleased to invite you to celebrate Mark Greif and his acclaimed new book of essays, Against Everything.

Sheila Heti will join Mark for a fun, onstage conversation.

Mark Greif is a co-founder of the high-profile little magazine n+1, where a number of the essays in Against Everything first appeared. Writing on topics ranging from the tyranny of exercise to the tyranny of nutrition and food snobbery, the sexualization of childhood, the philosophical meaning of pop music, the rise and fall of the hipster, the impact of the Occupy movement, and the crisis of policing, Greif's formidable brain performs an MRI on our vexed times.

Sheila Heti is the author of seven books of fiction and nonfiction, including the acclaimed novels How Should a Person Be? and Ticknor, and the short-story collection The Middle Stories.

Wednesday, October 26, 7 PM
The Ossington
61 Ossington Ave., Toronto

“Greif turns the quotidian world over like a miniature globe in his hand.… I would read anything he writes, anywhere.”
– Daphne Merkin, New York Times Book Review
“Greif’s point is not to tell you how to live, but to encourage you to really think about how you're living.”
– Lauren Oyler, VICE

“Mark Greif writes a contrarian, skeptical prose that is at the same time never cynical: it opens out on to beauty and the possibility of change.”
– Zadie Smith

“Anyone who hasn't discovered Mark Greif's unforgettable essays yet in the pages of n+1 – the country's most powerful literary mag, which he cofounded – will thank me for demanding you rush out to buy his grasp-you-by-the-throat collection Against Everything ... A must-read collection by one of our preeminent thinkers.”
– Mary Karr

“I love Mark Greif. No living essayist effects the destruction of everything other people hold dear with a lighter or more elegant touch. An unmitigated delight.”
– Elif Batuman

“Mark Greif’s book proposes the impossible thing, a phenomenology of the present – at a moment in which the present is slipping by so fast that anything we dare call that is already signed, sealed and delivered to the past.”
– Fredric Jameson

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At the Existentialist Café
6:00 PM18:00

At the Existentialist Café

Flying Books and Knopf Canada present Sarah Bakewell and her book At the Existentialist Café: Freedom, Being and Apricot Cocktails. Together we will ponder Being-in-the-world, the Other, freedom and responsibility, and drink an apricot cocktail or two (or three).

Featuring an on-stage conversation among:

Sarah Bakewell speaking on behalf of Jean-Paul Sartre (“There is only one day left, always starting over: it is given to us at dawn and taken away from us at dusk.”)

Emily M. Keeler speaking on behalf of Simone de Beauvoir (“Let but the future be opened to her, and she will no longer be compelled to linger in the present.”)

Russell Smith on behalf of Albert Camus (“The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.”)

Wednesday April 13, 6:00 PM
The Gladstone Hotel, Melody Bar, 1214 Queen St. W.

At the Existentialist Café, Sarah Bakewell’s group portrait of Husserl, Heidegger, Sartre, Beauvoir, and the other ‘Continental’ philosophers who flourished before and after World War II, is a work of deep intelligence and sympathy, reminding us how exciting those thinkers can be. And it’s a page-turner.” — Lorin Stein, The Paris Review

SARAH BAKEWELL had a wandering childhood in Europe, Australia and England. After studying at the University of Essex, she was a curator of early printed books at the Wellcome Library before becoming a full-time writer. Her book on Montaigne, How to Live, won numerous awards, including the National Book Critics Circle Award. Bakewell lives in London, where she teaches creative writing at City University and catalogues rare book collections for the National Trust.

EMILY M. KEELER is a senior editor at The Walrus. She is formerly the Books Editor of the National Post, and her writing has appeared in the Globe and Mail, the Los Angeles Times, Maisonneuve, and Hazlitt. In 2012, Emily founded the award-winning literary magazine Little Brother, which publishes two issues per year.

RUSSELL SMITH is one of Canada’s sharpest and funniest writers. In his books, including How Insensitive, Girl Crazy, and Muriella Pent, he captures urban frenzy and exciting underworlds with a slyly urbane twist. He writes a provocative weekly column on the arts in the national Globe and Mail, and teaches in the MFA program at the University of Guelph. His most recent book, Confidence, was a finalist for the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize and was longlisted for the Giller Prize.

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Sheila Heti at Flying Books
5:00 PM17:00

Sheila Heti at Flying Books

Sheila Heti is Flying Books' current guest chooser! Come see Sheila and her amazing selection at Flying Books inside The Weekend Variety Friday, March 4 from 5-7 PM.

Sheila Heti is the author of the acclaimed novels How Should a Person Be? and Ticknor, the short-story collection The Middle Stories, the children's book We Need a Horse, and the play All Our Happy Days Are Stupid. She is also the co-editor of Women in Clothes and co-author of The Chairs Are Where the People Go. She lives in Toronto (lucky Toronto!).

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2:00 PM14:00

Flying Books Presents: Halloween, by Lynn "I Love the Dead" Crosbie

When the clock strikes 2 PM this Saturday, Flying Books' very first guest chooser, the incomparable Lynn Crosbie, author of store best seller Where Did You Sleep Last Night, will be haunting 1080 Queen St W.

Lynn will guide you through her ghoulish choices — Maldoror, The Well-Dressed Wound, The Black Dahlia, Dark Places, Flowers in the Attic, So Much Pretty, Party Monster, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, Helter Skelter, The Bewdley Mayhem Stories, and, of course, Rosemary's Baby. And she will sign Where Did You Sleep Last Night, her creepily obsessive tale of ghosts (starring the ravishing Kurt Cobain) and smack and sex and punk, which makes the dreamiest of the ghoulish fantasists sigh.

Best costume wins a Where Did You Sleep Last Night poster!

Lynn Crosbie is a poet, novelist, cultural critic, newspaper columnist, and academic. She teaches at the University of Toronto and the Art Gallery of Ontario, and her books include Pearl, Queen Rat, and Dorothy L'Amour, Paul's Case and Life Is About Losing Everything.

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1:00 PM13:00

Mad Scientist Christian Bök to Sign The Xenotext Oct. 4

At the end of the world, after the sun dies, there will be only Christian Bök's The Xenotext (and Keith Richards, who will be reading it). Come to Flying Books, 1080 Queen St W, on Sunday, October 4, 1-3 pm to get your piece of eternity signed by the mad scientist of Canadian poetry himself!

Bök won the 2002 Griffin Poetry Prize for Eunoia (Coach House), the international cult hit, in which each chapter had words containing only one vowel. The Xenotext (Coach House) is his long-awaited next book, and in this one, he goes biological, encoding a poem (called ‘Orpheus’) into the genome of a germ so that, in reply, the cell builds a protein that encodes yet another poem (called ‘Eurydice’). Basically, Bök is teaching bacteria to read. Don't miss out!


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