←Return to News / Events


Launching Shelf Portraits: Inside the Libraries of Canadian Authors

Dec. 22, 2021

Canadian Authors Share “Shelfies” from Their Personal Libraries

Ever wanted to snoop the shelves of your favourite author?

The Richler Library Project is proud to present Shelf Portraits: Inside the Libraries of Canadian Authors, a rare and intimate glimpse at the collections of some of the country’s most collectible writers. From essayists to poets, creatives to academics, Shelf Portraits makes clear that there is no self without a shelf – and no writer without first a voracious reader.

Beginning with contributions from Governor General Award-winning authors Stephanie Bolster and Phil Hall, Shelf Portraits gives readers the opportunity to see inside the personal libraries of established and emerging Canadian authors. In our inaugural essays, Bolster ruminates on what it means to inherit a library posthumously, offering a portrait of the library as an obituary; Hall, meanwhile, provides a sustained and poetic meditation on the library as both a theatre and a fortress. In both instances, photographs and words come together to provide a self-portrait of these celebrated authors as never before seen – as readers.

Slated for weekly publication, Bolster and Hall will soon be joined by writers such as Christian Bök, George Bowering and Madeleine Thien to create a virtual bookshelf authored by the writers who already adorn our shelves. With contributions from writers from the 1930s until now, the collection provides a collaboratively assembled creative narrative revealing the changing meaning of personal libraries across generations. By uncovering authors as collectors, the project shows how the global production and exchange of books has changed as the market for literature in Canada evolves. Shelf Portraits is thus a portrait-in-motion of how our favourite authors were made – word by word, shelf-by-shelf and book by book.

Shelf Portraits is edited by Jason Camlot, Jeffrey Weingarten and Alexandra Sweny. Website designed by Manami Izawa and developed by Max Stein.

If you are a Canadian author interested in contributing to Shelf Portraits, please contact richlerlibraryproject@gmail.com.