Part voyeuristic pleasure, part travel-guide, the Perfect Summer Day Questionnaire connects writers and their books to real-life Canadian places while celebrating the goodness of summer.
Monica Heisey is a writer and comedian from Toronto. Do yourself a favour and read her essay, "A Day in the Life of Pinterest," which appeared in The New Yorker. And then check out her book, I Can't Believe It's Not Better: A Women's Guide to Coping With Life.
49th Shelf: Tell us about the setting for your perfect summer day. Is it a place in your book? The place where you live? Somewhere that you’re homesick for?
Monica Heisey: As far as places to spend a summer day go, Toronto is really up there for me. After what we’ve all been through, weather-wise, in the winter months, people really Lean In when things get nice. It feels like the whole city comes out of hiding and celebrates.
49th Shelf: Obviously, you’ve got a book to read. What book is it? Where do you go to read it?
MH: Lately I’ve been loving non-fiction and oral history books. I just finished Poking a Dead Frog: Conversations With Today’s Top Comedy Writers, and I think I’ll do Live From New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live next. Failing that, a Dorothy Parker anthology is almost always in my bag. Reading in the shade is all I ever want to do in the summer, so I’m probably parked under a tree somewhere, maybe in Trinity Bellwoods, trying to avoid getting hit in the head with a frisbee.
49th Shelf: When you’re finished reading, it’s time to eat. Is it patio weather? Where do you go for lunch, and what do you order?
MH: If this is the perfect summer day you better believe it’s patio weather. I’m a fan of a park picnic, though, so I’d probably head to Clafouti for a sandwich or a croissant and The White Squirrel for a massive unsweetened iced tea. The Tampered Press across from the park on Dundas sells these amazing fancy popsicles that could work too.
49th Shelf: This particular summer day being perfect, you meet up with excellent company to spend the afternoon with. Who are you hanging out with?
MH: The best part about Toronto (or at least my experience of Toronto) is that almost everyone I love lives within a ten block radius. The best days, I think, are when a hangout happens by chance: someone’s walking by, and they’re meeting a friend, and their friend brings a cousin, and then all of a sudden there are 12 of you and your quiet afternoon with your book has become a secret-sangria-from-a-thermos party in the park. A surprise pick’n’mix bag of buds is deal.
49th Shelf: How do you while away the next few hours in a memorable fashion?
MH: People watching, dog spotting (Trinity Bellwoods is a hub of hot guys walking cute dogs), and non-committal judging of slack-liners.
49th Shelf: We like bookshops. Where do you recommend we go to buy a book nearby?
MH: Type Books is a dream. You can wander in with a basic idea (fashion, dystopia, pirates) or a feeling (sad, loved up, curious) and the super-knowledgeable staff will match you up with the perfect book.
49th Shelf: What’s playing on your iPod as you walk there?
49th Shelf: Once at the bookshop, what three (Canadian!) books are you having difficulty choosing between?
MH: Oooh. It’s always a fight between trying something new and picking up an old favourite. Do I read Where Did You Sleep Last Night, or The Handmaid’s Tale for the 400th time? The Luminaries or Anne of Green Gables? Us Conductors or an Alice Munro collection?
Let’s go with Lynn Crosbie.
49th Shelf: And oh, those summer nights. What would be your ideal way to cap off a perfect summer day?
MH: A Campari and soda on someone’s back deck, with plans to hit the beach tomorrow. The perfect summer day lasts months.
I Can't Believe It's Not Better is a collection of stories, essays, advice, and drawings from writer and comedian Monica Heisey. Created to help you live your Best Life, this book offers tips on everything from workplace politics to sexting, from how to make your apartment look like you read design blogs to where to cry in public. Important guides like "How To Watch Literally Hours of TV At A Time" will help you sort your life out for good, while thought-provoking personal essays such as "Pizzas I Have Loved" and helpful exercises like "Are You Being Flirted With, A Quiz" provide some gravitas and perspective to help you navigate this modern world. Plus there is a very weird short story about bees.
Funny, smart and charming, this book is the perfect accompaniment to your next life crisis, or at least an easy and appropriate gift for the niece you don't know very well but want to impress.
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