A literary corner online on the East Coast

First aired on Weekend Arts Magazine (28/1/12)

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One of the joys of living in the modern age is how the internet can enable you to connect with an otherwise distant community from anywhere in the world -- even Labrador City, Newfoundland. That's exactly what Kerri Cull has done with the creation of Book Fridge, a website that "talks about all things books." Cull, who is also a poet, started the site a year ago, and, like any book blogger, uses the site as a place to discuss what she happens to be reading at any given time. Cull recently discussed her website with Weekend Arts Magazine host Mack Furlong in Newfoundland.

Book Fridge goes beyond just Cull's own thoughts on books -- she frequently reaches out to authors and artists in Newfoundland and across Canada, and she posts interviews about their work and writing process. "I've had some really good writers," she said. "I feel really lucky that way to have some of the writers contribute that I have had in the past." Writers who appear on the site include Michael Crummey, recent Booker longlister Alison Pick, Giller nominee Johann Skibsrud and many more.

This year, inspired by an event you might have heard about called Canada Reads, Cull decided to host a little competition on Book Fridge in which Newfoundland writers and artists would talk about their favourite Newfoundland books. "I always thought [Canada Reads] was a fantastic competition, it always drums up a lot of excitement in the reading community," she said. "And I love the writing that comes out of Newfoundland. I think it's insane the amount of writers and artists we have in the province. And I wanted to see what they - some of the artists and writers - were reading, what they thought of some of the books that were coming out of the province. So we've been having a conversation about five really great books."

Ultimately, Book Fridge celebrates Cull's beliefe that "there's a book out there for everybody." She claims that she herself is an "omnivorous" reader. "I'll read anything you throw at me," she said. Until last year, however, one genre that Cull had never read was the often derided Harlequin romance. But when a friend insisted, she gave it a shot, if only to maintain her claim of being truly omnivorous. "It was, ah, interesting," she said diplomatically.

However, she knows that not everyone is as game to read anything and everything as she is. "I teach first-year lit courses, and sometimes it's a little bit of a struggle with some of the students, getting them to read and finding the books in the genres that they love," she said. "But I believe there are books out there for even the pickiest reader."

Cull admits that her location makes maintaining a literary website challenging at times. "The internet makes everything easy, but [living in Labrador City] I don't really have a face to put with Book Fridge," she said. "If was living in St. John's, I'd be going to the literary events and such, but there's not a lot of that here. I just e-mail people and ask nicely if they want to participate, and luckily most of them say yes!"

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