I’ve been attending Appel Salon events at the Toronto Reference Library for many years. I don’t remember what my initial motivation was, but the free price tag likely factored into it. In the early days, there were no tickets given; on the day of any given event, you simply lined up before the doors opened.
When a ticketing system finally was implemented a few years ago, I stopped attending Salon events. Considering my faithful attendance in recent years, I cannot believe that I did that. It might have been because I wanted to be sure that I had no commitments before getting a ticket, but I’m not entirely sure of my rationale. Whatever it was, it seems so insignificant now. Fortunately, this self-imposed moratorium wasn’t permanent.
In late 2013, I found out that a world-famous Canadian astronaut would be making an appearance at the Appel. Considering his then-recent stint on the International Space Station, I knew it would be a heck of a big deal (that’s an understatement).
The astronaut’s name? You may have heard it before: Chris Hadfield.
On the day that tickets went on sale for his event, there were technical issues which almost caused me to end up empty-handed, but my second attempt was successful. The stage was set for my long-awaited return to the Appel Salon.
Since that event, I haven’t looked back.
Under the leadership of Tina Srebotnjak and Yvonne Hunter, the Appel Salon has thrived in Toronto’s literary scene. Many an author has graced its stage, including Margaret Trudeau, Caitlin Moran, Lena Dunham, and current Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. In my opinion, 2015 was a banner year for the Appel; the hits kept coming night after night. It’s one thing to be able to book people like Margaret Atwood, Salman Rushdie, Mohamed Fahmy, and Judy Blume in the same venue. It’s another thing when you can book all of them in the same year. It shouldn’t surprise readers of this blog to find out that Judy Blume’s appearance is my all-time favourite Salon event; until that evening, Chris Hadfield had that honour.
On January 11th, the Appel Salon will open its doors for its first event of 2016: an appearance by chef Gabrielle Hamilton. This event is sold out, but given the Salon’s cachet, this shouldn’t surprise anyone.
Here’s another fact which shouldn’t be surprising: I’ll be there.