Tuesday, November 17, 2015

My Favourite Places to Read in Toronto

Recently I've been on a scavenger hunt to find the best reading spots around Toronto. Every so often I do enjoy getting cozy at home, but sometimes the distractions around my place win over my attention. When I'm forced to step outside my apartment to find a new location to help myself focus on the reading or work I'm trying to get done, I become quite picky. If the place is busy, I want to feel comfortable. If I'm not spending a lot of money, I don't like to feel pressured to leave after I've finished my coffee or tea, especially when I have hours of work to do. I'm still convinced that there are hidden gems around the city that I have yet to discover. The following are my current favourite go-to places when I need a spot to read or work.

1. Fika Cafe
28 Kensington Ave.

My latest discovery is a small nook over on Kensington. Originally I ventured over to check out their book covered wall that I had come across online. I ended up feeling very comfortable in the back corner of the cafe and wished I had more time than I did that afternoon to stay and read. In addition to their unique coffee flavours (I tried a delicious coffee cake latte!), they also have a full menu which means you don't need to venture elsewhere to eat. From now on this is my go to spot whenever I find myself around the Market.

2. Dineen Coffee Co. 
140 Yonge St.

When I walk into Dineen I feel as though I've walked into a cafe in New York or Paris. The high ceilings and bright lighting make me feel chic and sophisticated as I settle down to read to the twenties' themed soundtrack. I wouldn't call myself anything close to a coffee connoisseur, but their vanilla latte is one of the best I've ever had. Unfortunately the seating area isn't huge, so it can be challenging at times to find a seat. The cushioned benches are far more comfortable than sitting at any communal table though, and to me they are worth the wait.

Image source: tseparfait.wordpress.com

3. Richtree Market
Toronto Eaton Centre, Lower Level

Though located in the hectic Eaton Center, I like coming to Richtree because there are so many booths and seating options available. So long as you don't mind a little bit of noise, this is actually a great place to camp out all day and work. I never feel pressured to leave once I've finished eating, or as though someone else is vying for my space. In terms of food, the options they have are almost bottomless. Chinese, pizza, sushi, vegan meals, sandwiches, baked goods - they even have a bar if you're ever so inclined to have a glass of wine while you work.

Image source: blogto.com

4. The JCR at Trinity College
8 Hoskin Ave., Main Building

During my time at U of T I discovered endless study rooms. I found the JCR the most comfortable, perhaps because I belonged to Trinity, but mostly because of its relaxed atmosphere. It's never too loud, but it's rarely so quiet that you could hear a pin drop. The big, old couches and armchairs put you right at home - you could even take a power nap if you need a break. If you're looking for somewhere with a more lively environment, The Buttery is just around the corner. For an even quieter space, all you have to do is walk upstairs to one of the classrooms on the second floor. Even if you're not a student, University campuses are an excellent place to turn for a productive work environment. You don't need to buy anything, and most people won't be able to tell that you don't actually go there.

5. Dark Horse
215 Spadina Ave., 125 John St., 630 Queen St. East

A few years ago, a friend brought me to Dark Horse and I instantly felt hip amongst the young crowd. If you can't stand the hipster scene, then this may not be the right pick for you. If you want something more social and young, you'll definitely fit right in. Fans of the show 'Suits' will be excited to know that Harvey Spector made a visit to the Chinatown location on Spadina during the show's fourth season. In addition the Chinatown location, the company has two other cafes: Queen East and John Street.

Image source: torontoist.com

6. Pacific Junction Hotel
234 King St. East

When I was attending school at George Brown, one of my journalism teachers made it a weekly ritual to meet at Pacific Junction after class on Wednesday nights. Though I never personally went there to read or study, I always thought that the many private booths and tables would be great for reading or getting some writing done. The menus are brought in folders covered with neon duck tape, and the food is reasonably priced. If you get bored or need a study break at any time they have pool tables, ping pong, air hockey, and a decent selection of board games to keep you entertained.

Image source: torontofunplaces.blogspot.com

Honourable Mentions

Although I felt it too mainstream to include in my list, I wanted to mention my two favourite Starbucks locations. I have to admit, I go to Starbucks frequently - mostly due to convenience. Out of all the locations I've been to, the following two are my favourite:

Starbucks on Bedford
1 Bedford Rd.

I like this Starbucks largely due to its location. In between Yorkville and U of T, the crowd is a mix of students and mature workers. There is a long banquette as well as multiple big, soft chairs. Many friends I spoke to agree that it feels very cozy being in this Starbucks, especially during the holiday season.

Starbucks on Queen and Peter
316 Queen St. West

This Starbucks beside Lush Cosmetics makes my list solely due to the outlets located all along the long banquette at the cafe's entrance. I hate when I've settled into a perfect spot, only to realize that there is no outlet within arm's reach to charge my laptop or phone. My phone battery grows low very quickly over the course of the day, so I almost have to be near an outlet if I'm going to be somewhere for a long time. I like knowing that being able to charge my laptop or phone is never an issue here. The location is small, but this one perk makes it stand out amongst a sea of franchises around the city.

There are so many places to read and get work done around the city. Where are some of your favourites? Comment below with your answers!

With love,

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