Basil is an author and bookseller and has lived in Toronto most of their life. They’ve been reading Groundwood and Anansi books since they were a kid and have been working in the bookshop since 2018. When not selling books, talking about books, or reading books, you can find them trying to make latte art in their small kitchen.
Last book that made you cry: Mii maanda ezhi-gkendmaanh / This Is How I Know by Brittany Luby and Illustrated by Joshua Mangeshig Pawis-Steckley, it’s just so lovely and evocative.
Last book that made you laugh: The Code of the Woosters by P.G. Wodehouse. This book is almost a century old, and while it does show its age in many ways, the peculiar slang and witty comebacks still zing right off the page.
Moment you knew you loved books: When I was ten and read an entire 500-page novel in one day.
Favourite thing about recommending the perfect read: The way people light up when you manage to recommend something that fits the super-specific niche they’ve requested, it’s incredibly rewarding. Or when people come back to say they read what you recommended and loved it and have passed it on to a friend!
Best place to discover your next read: Our bookshop! Or talking to a friend or someone who has similar taste. Book lovers are almost always ready to tell you about their latest favourite read.
Favourite Anansi/Groundwood office/bookshop memory: the holiday season 2019 was pretty magical, we completely decorated the shop with “snow” and little houses and LED candles. We had three different wrapping stations and wrapping paper based on endpaper designs from Groundwood picture books. It was so cozy. Pre-COVID, I used to offer hot cocoa to those coming in out of the cold.
One book everyone should read: Tokyo Digs a Garden by Jon-Erik Lappano and illustrated by Kellen Hatanaka. It’s a really beautiful book and beautifully illustrated, about a kid growing up in a joyless city who plants a seed that grows into a garden that overtakes the whole landscape. It’s whimsical, it’s silly, but it’s also very hopeful about climate change and environmentalism, which is something I think we all desperately need.
Best book to give for the holiday season: I love watching people unwrap or read through The Lost Words by Jackie Morris and Robert MacFarlane. It’s a really special experience to sit with kids as they flip through the pages, and adults too.