Simcoe Reads

7 Libraries. 7 Books. 1 Winner.

What is Simcoe Reads?

NTPL has joined forces with 6 other libraries in this cover-to-cover conversation! Read the books; watch the conversation; vote for the winner.

Simcoe Reads Cover-to-Cover Conversation

Join us for the Grand Finale Cover to Cover Conversation! Watch all seven library Champions defend their chosen titles.

Saturday, September 17 at the Innisfil IdeaLab and Library. 

New Tecumseth Public Library

What Strange Paradise by Omar El Akkad

What Strange Paradise is the story of two children finding their way through a hostile world. But it is also a story of empathy and indifference, of hope and despair—and about the way each of those things can blind us to reality.

Omar El Akkad is an author and journalist. He was born in Egypt, grew up in Qatar, moved to Canada as a teenager and now lives in the United States. His fiction and non-fiction writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Guardian, Le Monde, Guernica, GQ and many other newspapers and magazines. His debut novel, American War, is an award winning, international bestseller and has been translated into thirteen languages. What Strange Paradise is also a multi-award winning novel, including winner of the 2021 Giller Prize.

What Strange Paradise by Omar El Akkad

Omar El Akkad Zoom Author Visit

What Strange Paradise

Thursday August 25

We are thrilled to announce NTPL’s Simcoe Reads selection: What Strange Paradise, by Omar El Akkad.  The story of two children finding their way through a hostile world. But it is also a story of empathy and indifference, of hope and despair—and about the way each of those things can blind us to reality.

NTPL’s Champion Councillor Shira Harrison McIntyre will interview Omar El Akkad. 

Open Book Club

Thursday September 15 

Join us for a discussion of all seven Simcoe Reads title finalists: What Strange Paradise; Can You Hear Me Now; Hench; Washington Black; Not On My Watch; The Last High; and The Forgotten Home Child. New Tecumseth Public Library Hosts.


Champion: Shira Harrison McIntyre

Councillor Shira Harrison McIntyre has lived, worked and volunteered in New Tecumseth for over twenty years. Shira has contributed to the betterment of her community through her work as the Executive Director for Next Step, an adult literacy organization, Chair of the New Tecumseth Heritage Advisory Committee, Vice-Chair of the New Tecumseth Environmental Committee and as a board member on the Lake Simcoe Regional Conservation Authority.  Shira has travelled and studied in many countries and strives to bring about positive change at the local level.

Barrie Public Library

Can You Hear Me Now? by Celina Caesar-Chavannes

Celina Caesar-Chavannes digs deep into her childhood and her life as a young Black woman entrepreneur and politician, and shows us that effective and humane leaders grow as much from their mistakes and vulnerabilities as from their strengths.

CELINA CAESAR-CHAVANNES C is an equity and inclusion advocate and leadership consultant, and a former Member of Parliament who served as parliamentary secretary to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and to the Minister of International Development et la Francophonie. During her political career, Celina advocated for people suffering with mental illness and was given the Champion of Mental Health Parliamentarian Award in May 2017 by the Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health. That year she was also named one of the Global 100 Under 40 Most Influential People of African Descent (Politics & Governance category) and Black Parliamentarian of the Year. After she stepped away from the Liberal Party to sit as an independent member in 2019, Celina was picked as one of Chatelaine Magazine ‘s Women of the Year. Before entering politics, she was a successful entrepreneur, launching and growing an award-winning research management consulting firm, with a particular focus on neurological conditions. Celina was the recipient of both the Toronto Board of Trade’s Business Entrepreneur of the Year for 2012 and the 2007 Black Business and Professional Association’s Harry Jerome Young Entrepreneur Award. Celina holds an MBA in Healthcare Management from the University of Phoenix as well as an Executive MBA from the Rotman School of Management. She is currently enrolled in a PhD program focused on organizational leadership at Northcentral University. She lives in Whitby, Ontario, with her three children, and her husband, Dr. Vidal Chavannes.

Can You Hear Me Now, by Celina Caesar-Chavannes

Celina Caesar-Chavannes Zoom Author Visit

Can You Hear Me Now?

Thursday, August 4 – event has been postponed. Please watch for updates as they become available.

7 pm


Join Celina Caesar-Chavannes as she discusses Barrie Public Library’s Simcoe Reads pick, Can You Hear Me Now?.


Champion: Claudine Cousins

A scholar, thought leader and community changemaker, Claudine Cousins is the Chief Executive Officer of Empower Simcoe, a human services organization in the broader health sector and part-time teacher in the School of Business at Georgian College.  Claudine has over twenty-five years of leadership experience with various Ministries within the Ontario Public Service and the not-for-profit and profit sectors, including banking and investment. A drive and passion for social justice issues and its link to business outcomes, Claudine is a local advocate for equity, diversity and inclusion, and shares her experiences through presentations/speaking events, mentoring, and being a champion for women. 

Bradford-West Gwillimbury Public Library

Hench by Natalie Zina Walschots

A novel of love, betrayal, revenge, and redemption follows a young woman as she discovers that the greatest superpower–for good or evil–is a properly executed spreadsheet.

NATALIE ZINA WALSCHOTS is a freelance writer, community manager and bailed academic based in Toronto. She writes everything from reviews of science fiction novels and interviews with heavy metal musicians to to in-depth feminist games criticism and pieces of long-form journalism. She is the author of two books of poetry. In her free time she has been exploring the poetic potential of the notes engine in the video game Bloodborne, writing a collection of polyamorous fairytales, developing interactive narrative classes and composing short text-based body horror games. She also plays a lot of D&D, participates in a lot of Nordic LARPs, watches a lot of horror movies and reads a lot of speculative fiction.

Hench by Natalie Zia Walschots

Champion: Meade Helman

Meade Helman lives in Bond Head with his wife, two cats and a dog. He loves to garden, growing vegetables on his deck in pots! He has been many things throughout his lifetime: a restaurant manager, a senior executive, a management consultant, a school bus driver, a visual artist, a luthier, and, currently retired, focuses on music. In the last few years he has learned to play 6 instruments.

Essa Public Library

Washington Black by Esi Edugyan

When two English brothers arrive at a Barbados sugar plantation, they bring with them a darkness beyond what the slaves have already known. Washington Black — an eleven year-old field slave — is horrified to find himself chosen to live in the quarters of one of these men. But the man is not as Washington expects him to be. His new master is the eccentric Christopher Wilde — naturalist, explorer, inventor and abolitionist — whose obsession to perfect a winged flying machine disturbs all who know him. Washington is initiated into a world of wonder: a world where the night sea is set alight with fields of jellyfish, where a simple cloth canopy can propel a man across the sky, where even a boy born in chains may embrace a life of dignity and meaning — and where two people, separated by an impossible divide, can begin to see each other as human. But when a man is killed one fateful night, Washington is left to the mercy of his new masters.

ESI EDUGYAN  A graduate of Johns Hopkins University and the University of Victoria, Esi Edugyan was raised in Calgary, Alberta. She is also the author of Half-Blood Blues, Dreaming of Elsewhere, and Washington Black, which was shortlisted for the Rogers Writers’ Trust, and Man Booker Prizes, and won the 2018 Scotiabank Giller Prize. She has held fellowships in the US, Scotland, Iceland, Germany, Hungary, Finland, Spain, and Belgium. She lives in Victoria, British Columbia.

Washington Black by Esi Edugyan

Champion: Krista White

Krista is a former executive recruiter who fell so hard for writing, stories soon consumed her every idle thought. A member of the Women’s Fiction Writing Association, her debut book, The Birdcage, was published in December 2022. Relationships fascinate her. Marital, romantic, familial, professional—if they’re ripe with complexity and emotion—she’ll be reading and writing them. Krista lives in Essa township with her steadfast husband, three enigmatic sons and her vegetable garden.

Innisfil IdeaLab and Library

Not On My Watch by Alexandra Morton

In 1989, industrial aquaculture moved into British Columbia, chasing away the whales Alexandra Morton had dedicated her life to studying. Her fisherman neighbours asked her if she would write letters on their behalf to the government explaining the damage the farms were doing to the fisheries, and one thing led to another. Soon Alex had shifted her scientific focus to documenting the infectious diseases and parasites that pour from the ocean farm pens of Atlantic salmon into the migration routes of wild Pacific salmon, and then to proving their disastrous impact on wild salmon and the entire ecosystem of the coast. Alex stood against the farms, first representing her community, then alone, and at last as part of an uprising that built around her as ancient Indigenous governance resisted a province and a country that wouldn’t obey their own court rulings.

ALEXANDRA MORTON is a field biologist turned activist who has done groundbreaking research on the damaging impact of ocean-based salmon farming on the coast of British Columbia. She first studied communications in bottlenosed dolphins and then the sounds of captive orcas at Marineland of the Pacific in California. She then moved to the remote BC coast and found herself at the heart of a long fight to protect the wild salmon that are the province’s keystone species. She has co-authored more than twenty scientific papers on the impact of salmon farming on migratory salmon, and her book Not on My Watch is a national bestseller.

Not on My Watch by Alexandra Morton

Alexandra Morton Zoom Author Visit

Not On My Watch 

Tuesday, August 9
7 pm

Please join us for an Author Talk with Alexandra Morton hosted by IILL.


Champion: Jeanette Luchese

Jeanette Luchese, a first-generation Italian – Canadian settler, is a visual artist with roots in the design arts, and creates in the disciplines of drawing, printmaking, painting, sculpture, and sound. Jeanette is a graduate of the School of Design and Visual Art, Georgian College (Barrie), and the Sheridan College School of Design (Oakville). Residing in Innisfil, she has exhibited internationally and regionally at numerous public galleries, including the MacLaren Art Centre (Barrie), Quest Art Gallery (Midland), and the Georgian College Campus Gallery, (Barrie).

Midland Public Library

The Last High by Daniel Kalla

A Vancouver doctor and a detective face the deadly consequences of the opioid crisis as they track down the supplier of fentanyl that landed a group of teens in the ER with critical overdoses.

DANIEL KALLA  is an internationally bestselling author of novels, including The Darkness in the Light, Lost Immunity, The Last High, and We All Fall Down. Kalla practices emergency medicine in Vancouver, British Columbia. Visit him at or follow him on Twitter @DanielKalla.

The Last High by Daniel Kalla

Daniel Kalla Zoom Author Visit

The Last High

Thursday, July 14
7 pm

Join us for a virtual author visit with Daniel Kalla on July 14 at 7pm. He’ll discuss his work, the writing process, The Last High, and his newest book, The Darkness in the Light.  Hosted by Midland Public Library.


Champion: Suzanne Marchand

Suzanne Marchand is the Executive Director with the Centre de santé communautaire CHIGAMIK Community Health Centre and is an active and engaged community member. She grew up on her family farm in Lafontaine and has raised her two children (Kate & Kyle) in the very same community she calls home. Suzanne has served on a number of boards, associations and committees, giving of her time to ensure that quality health care, sports and wellness are sustained and equitably accessible within the community. She has become an avid reader and is always up for a good debate.

Ramara Public Library

The Forgotten Home Child by Genevieve Graham

The Forgotten Home Child brings to the foreground a lost part of Canadian history — the children that were brought from British orphanages to Canada in order to have better opportunities in life. While the concept was great in theory, the reality was often gruesome for the children. This story follows 5 children from Barnardo’s Homes in London who were brought to Canada in the 1930s and placed into family homes across Ontario. Decades later, 97-year-old Winny has to confront the horrors of her past when her relatives ask her about a mysterious old trunk.

GENEVIEVE GRAHAM is prolific and determined, dedicated to bringing Canadian history to life through the popular, mainstream market of commercial historical fiction. Having started writing relatively late in life (in her forties), she has already published five novels with Simon & Schuster Canada in five years, and is eager to keep on that same track for years to come.

The Forgotten Home Child by Genevieve Graham

Genevieve Graham Zoom Author Visit

Wednesday, July 20
7 pm

Each library has selected one book to take part in the challenge, and a local community member to champion the book.   The book that has been chosen by Ramara’s champion, Dorothy MacDonald is The Forgotten Home Child by Genevieve Graham.


Champion: Dorothy MacDonald

Dorothy MacDonald has had the good fortune to have had two very rewarding careers as a teacher.  One as a grade 2/3 classroom teacher and the second as an ESL teacher to mostly grade three students at Thorncliffe. It was a privilege to welcome newcomers to Canada and to help them develop the language skills to become confident, happy and contributing citizens of our country.

In 2004 Dorothy returned to beautiful Orillia/Ramara where she became involved with various community organizations like the Canadian Federation of University Women where she held various executive positions such as President and Scholarships Chair.  At the Orillia Museum of Art and History she was Chair of the History Committee which brought interesting history speakers once a month for seven months of the year.  These involvements helped her rise to new challenges and make new friends in the process.

Simcoe Reads 2022 MC: Emily Nakeff

Emily Nakeff (she/her) is the editor of the Borden Citizen, a Canadian Forces Newspaper serving Base Borden and the surrounding communities. She has a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Ottawa, and a diploma in print and broadcast journalism from Durham College, but her passion for storytelling stemmed from a love of reading. She lives locally with her husband and a dog who is too smart for his own good.

Simcoe Reads 2021

Simcoe Reads Debate and Voting

The Debate aired October 3 and 10, and voting closed October 12, but you can still watch the Debate online now.

And the winner is…

Gutter Child, by Jael Richardson! Congratulations to Essa Public Library and their Champion Grace Baker!

Heartfelt thanks to all who participated in NTPL’s first Simcoe Reads Cover-to-Cover Competition, and notably to Judy Penz Sheluk who championed NTPL’s selection Greenwood, by Michael Christie.

We’ll be back, New Tecumseth, for Simcoe Reads 2022!!

New Tecumseth Public Library

Greenwood by Michael Christie

From the award-winning author Michael Christie comes a propulsive, multigenerational family story, in which the unexpected legacies of a remote island off the coast of British Columbia will link the fates of five people over a hundred years.  An ingenious nested-ring, multigenerational epic, set against the devastation of the natural world.

MICHAEL CHRISTIE is the author of the novel If I Fall, If I Die, which was longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, the Kirkus Prize, was selected as a New York Times Editors’ Choice Pick, and was on numerous best-of 2015 lists. His linked collection of stories, The Beggar’s Garden, was longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, shortlisted for the Writers’ Trust Prize for Fiction, and won the Vancouver Book Award. His essays and book reviews have appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Globe & Mail.

Greenwood, his most recent novel, was longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize. Rights have been sold in seven countries.

A former carpenter and homeless shelter worker, he divides his time between Victoria, British Columbia, and Galiano Island, where he lives with his wife and two sons in a timber frame house that he built himself.


Photo of the cover of the novel Greenwood by Michael Christie, with author photo beside it.

Michael Christie Zoom Author Visit


Tuesday August 10

We are thrilled to announce NTPL’s Simcoe Reads selection: Greenwood, by
Michael Christie.  A propulsive, multigenerational family story, in which the
unexpected legacies of a remote island off the coast of British Columbia will link
the fates of five people over a hundred years. An ingenious nested-ring epic set
against the devastation of the natural world.

NTPL’s Champion local author Judy Penz Sheluk will interview Michael


Open Book Club

Tuesday August 31

Join us for an informal discussion featuring NTPL’s Simcoe Reads 2021 selection Greenwood by Michael Christie. All seven library Simcoe Reads 2021 titles will also be reviewed!


Champion: Judy Penz Sheluk

A former journalist and magazine editor, Judy Penz Sheluk is the author of the bestselling Marketville Mystery and Glass Dolphin Mystery series. Her short crime fiction appears in several collections, including The Best Laid Plans, Heartbreaks & Half-truths and Moonlight & Misadventure, which she also edited. Judy is a member of Sisters in Crime, International Thriller Writers, the Short Mystery Fiction Society, and Crime Writers of Canada, where she serves as Chair on the Board of Directors. She splits her time between Alliston and Goulais River, Ontario.

Barrie Public Library

A Mind Spread Out on the Ground by Alicia Elliott

In an urgent and visceral work that asks essential questions about the treatment of Native people in North America while drawing on intimate details of her own life and experience with intergenerational trauma, Alicia Elliott offers indispensable insight into the ongoing legacy of colonialism.

ALICIA ELLIOTT  is a Tuscarora writer from Six Nations of the Grand River. Her writing has been published by The Malahat Review, Room, Grain, CBC, The Globe and Mail, and Maclean’s, among others. She is currently creative nonfiction editor at The Fiddlehead, associate nonfiction editor at Little Fiction | Big Truths, and a consulting editor with The New Quarterly. Her essay A Mind Spread Out on the Ground won Gold at the National Magazine Awards in 2017. Elliott lives in Brantford, Ontario, with her husband and child.

Alicia Elliott Zoom Author Visit

A Mind Spread Out on the Ground

Wednesday, August 4
7 pm

BPL’s champion, Carolina Belmares interviews Alicia Elliott.


Champion: Carolina Belmares

Carolina Belmare’s passions include helping women with hectic lifestyles match their body to who they are, and what they’re capable of. She loves her blended family and her floofy cat named Churro. Carolina is an avid reader, an author, a speaker, an educator, and an entrepreneur.

Bradford-West Gwillimbury Public Library

Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin

Ayesha Shamsi has a lot going on. Her dreams of being a poet have been set aside for a teaching job so she can pay off her debts to her wealthy uncle. She lives with her boisterous Muslim family and is always being reminded that her flighty younger cousin, Hafsa, is close to rejecting her one hundredth marriage proposal. Though Ayesha is lonely, she doesn’t want an arranged marriage. Then she meets Khalid, who is just as smart and handsome as he is conservative and judgmental. She is irritatingly attracted to someone who looks down on her choices and who dresses like he belongs in the seventh century.

When a surprise engagement is announced between Khalid and Hafsa, Ayesha is torn between how she feels about the straightforward Khalid and the unsettling new gossip she hears about his family. Looking into the rumors, she finds she has to deal with not only what she discovers about Khalid, but also the truth she realizes about herself

Uzma Jalaluddin Zoom Author Visit

Ayesha at Last

Thursday, August 19
7 pm

BWGPL’s Champion, Emily Dahlgren will interview Uzma Jalaluddin.


Champion: Emily Dahlgren

Emily Dahlgren is a 15 year old Bradford West Gwillimbury resident who likes to stay busy! She runs her own business, The Munchies’ Concession Stand, and co-runs ‘A Bradford Christmas,’ the foundation she started with her sister. When she is not serving the community, Emily expresses her creativity by video editing, and writing, and relaxing with a great book.

Essa Public Library

Gutter Child by Jael Richardson

Set in an imagined world in which the most vulnerable are forced to buy their freedom by working off their debt to society, Gutter Child uncovers a nation divided into the privileged Mainland and the policed Gutter.

Jael Richardson Zoom Author Visit

Gutter Child

Thursday, August 26
7 pm

EPL’s Champion, Grace Baker will interview Jael Richardson.


Champion: Grace Baker

Grace Baker is a grade 10 student at Nottawasaga Pines Secondary School. She has always loved reading but her passion has grown immensely during quarantine while reading in her spare time. Grace loves musical theatre, being outdoors and is excited to be a part of Simcoe Reads. She is eager to represent her community, discover new authors and challenge herself in this new experience.

Innisfil IdeaLab and Library

The Company We Keep by Frances Itani

It’s been three years since Hazzley’s husband died but she is still struggling to cope. After some persuasion from her longtime friend, Hazzley decides to start a conversation group. The group quickly grows to include six strangers who meet in the back room of Cassie’s cafe weekly, each with their own unique stories to tell. The strangers find comfort and good company in this touching yet funny novel.

Frances Itani Zoom Author Visit

The Company We Keep

Tuesday, August 31
7 pm

IILL Champion, Anne Smith will interview Frances Itani.


Champion: Anne Smith

Anne moved to Innisfil eight years ago, following her retirement as a Senior Executive with an International Financial Services Company. Having been an active volunteer within the Toronto community, Anne immediately began looking for new volunteer opportunities and is currently the Chair of the Innisfil ideaLAB & Library Board, the President of the Innisfil Rotary Club, Treasurer of the Innisfil Community Foundation and a member of 100 Women Who Care, South Simcoe. Since early childhood, Anne has been an avid reader and Enid Blyton was her favourite author as a child. Anne believes that if you love reading, you will never be bored or lonely, and she is delighted to have passed on her love of reading to her two daughters and five grandchildren.

Midland Public Library

The Centaur’s Wife by Amanda Leduc

Amanda Leduc’s The Centaur’s Wife is a magic realist novel that imagines what it means for us, and our world, to be broken, changed, and grieving…and to be resilient, sufficient, and bound together.

Amanda Leduc Zoom Author Visit

The Centaur’s Wife

Thursday, September 9
7 pm

MPL’s Champion, Cady McLaughlin will interview Amanda Leduc.


Champion: Cady McLaughlin

Cady McLaughlin is a farmer, designer, and mother from Lafontaine, Ontario. She grows flowers and works on the family farm looking after horses, hens, and hay. Cady is passionate about community building and environmental sustainability. With degrees in museum studies and history, Cady gravitates towards stories that envelop the reader in a different world, while empowering them to make discoveries about their own.

Rama Public Library

Indians on Vacation by Thomas King

Inspired by a handful of postcards sent nearly a hundred years ago, Bird and Mimi attempt to trace long-lost uncle Leroy and the family medicine bundle he took with him to Europe.

Champion: Linda Lyons

After forty years of various occupations including office management, real estate brokerage, and community volunteer, Linda Lyons returned to formal education at Pima Community College and the University of Arizona. While pursuing degrees in English and Creative Writing, she participated in multiple volunteer opportunities including the establishment of a library and learning centre at a Mexican orphanage.  Now fully retired and settled on the shores of Lake Simcoe, she putters about her “work-in-progress” home and garden and indulges her life-long passion of reading and writing. Decades from being a young girl who haunted the bookmobile, hid under the covers with a flashlight, and read cereal boxes and toothpaste tubes, she chooses to view these challenging times as an opportunity to appreciate the fellowship of family and friends and the wonder of books and the natural world.

Simcoe Reads 2021 MC

Lisa Morgan

Lisa Morgan is the Midday host at 107.5 KOOLFM in Barrie. An avid reader, some of her earliest memories involve visiting the library for story time and to borrow books to pass the long summer days.   After winning last year’s inaugural event, Lisa is excited to be hosting Simcoe Reads this year.