Arts + Culture,  Here + Now

Finding Your Best Reading Spot on the Danforth

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Most of us crave a certain setting in order to truly enjoy something. This is true in all aspects of life, but I would say it is most important when we are reading. To retain information on a page, we need our focus, maybe not all of it, but I would say a good chunk of it. What fuels this focus is the real question. Every person is unique, we all have preferences and quirks that are different from others, but since we live in a society, we unintentionally pick up traits/habits of those most around us. This is most noticeable in close knit neighbourhoods.  

I went on a mission in search of the best location to read at on the Danforth. The street was calling to me, so I hit the ground running. I thought it best to start by asking around. Albeit, some hadn’t a clue.

David Rashty, a North York local who visits the Danforth regularly for its bookstore ‘Re: Reading’, enjoys a lively surrounding when reading and is fascinated with Greektown because of his Greek background. 

“That’s why I come here, to hopefully find a book that I like and know that I am not an outlier to the content,” he said. “Whenever I find one, I’ll go sit by the noise because I like a loud environment while I’m reading. For me that means being in front of the Alexander the Great monument.”

I headed to this location with one of my more descriptive novels and experimented. I do have to agree, it is phenomenal for those of us unable to handle the quiet. People come by constantly, some take pictures, others sit and stare, many will have conversations as there’s a café right there. If a busy area is something you enjoy during your reading sessions, then you will definitely find a favourite by Alexander’s altar. 

The next person I asked is a living Alexander, (not a Greek) this time a Scotsman with the last name Mackay. He too visits an independent bookstore on the Danforth, ‘Book City’ is where I found him. 

“I don’t like a lot of traffic when I read,” Mackay said. “Too much noise can be distracting. I live downtown by the Scotiabank arena, but I just can’t for the life of me pick up a book and enjoy it under those happenings. My aunt actually lives over here on the Danforth, so I like to visit her regularly and sneak away to come find a book or two. Where I read, strangely enough, is out in front of houses along this neighbourhood. I mean if you walk around, you’ll notice that these streets are quiet and have some gorgeous homes that create a sort of comforting aura in your peripherals while you are reading.”

I gave this a go as well, and you know something, Mackay was right! There’s something so calming about reading in front of creative architecture. The Danforth is a colourful neighbourhood and if you go down its side streets, you’ll find a lot of this. Unless you require an actual seat, you can just perch right over on the sidewalk and flip open onto a fresh page of what you are reading.

Finally, I decided to take the best of both worlds and meet somewhere in the middle. What I found were several quaint little cafes. Now, I can’t name a favourite as all of the ones I visited had what was needed: good coffee, comfortable seating, and a lively environment. 

These are spots for those of us requiring comfort and noise, but not too much noise. I, like many of us out there, enjoy reading with a coffee in my hand. It creates an alert and soothing feeling as I scan the pages before me. Cafes have always been a great place to get productive things done, like writing a screenplay or holding a business meeting, so why should reading be any different? The Danforth carries many cultured cafes to read at and I highly suggest checking one of them out. 

I went in search of something specific, a spot that I could safely claim as the obvious location to best read at when on the Danforth. What I found was something more diverse—lots of locations. There is no apex spot, it is up to you as the reader to take the information I have provided and apply it in your search for YOUR favourite spot. 

Featured image and photos by Luke Kurylo

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