Simcoe Reads

7 Libraries. 7 Books. 1 Winner.

Simcoe Reads logoSelect Simcoe County libraries squared off again for a host of great reads in 2023. Bradford West Gwillimbury, Essa, Innisfil, Midland, New Tecumseth, and Ramara all joined in the fun!

Each of the 7 libraries selected a Canadian book and a local celebrity to champion it.  Here were the selections for 2023:

After spending an amazing summer reading all 7 of these amazing selections, we held the grand finale conversation on October 19th at Angus Recreation Centre. All the champions did an incredible job supporting their book.  Special thank you to our champion, Shakir Barmare, for his amazing contribution and support representing our library at the grand finale! 

Each book received a large number of votes and in the end, it was a very tight finish! Congratulations to Innisfil IdeaLab and their champion Raj Grover who prevailed and won the 2023 Simcoe Reads Challenge.  Thank you to all our champions for the enthusiasm and fun you brought to the event. We can't wait to see what 2024 brings. 


Simcoe Reads 2023

Champions and Books

Barrie Public Library

Champion: Shakir Barmare

Book:  How to Calm Your Mind - Finding Presence and Productivity in Anxious Times in by Chris Bailey. 

Shakir Barmare

Book Cover for How to Calm Your Mind by Chris Bailey

Shakir is a passionate and loving human with a creative and change-making mindset. Throughout his life, he has been driven to celebrate every event, connect with new people, build relationships, and create awareness of the most important things in life. Shakir enjoys traveling, exploring, giving back to the community, and spreading the joy of love. And while Shakir does that, he strives to live in gratitude, as his name means ‘Grateful’!

How to Calm Your Mind is a crucial guide to achieving calm, navigating anxiety, and staving off burnout. It offers a toolkit of accessible, science-backed strategies that reveal that the path to a less anxious life, and even greater productivity, runs directly through calm.

Bradford West-Gwillimbury Public Library

Champion: Jen Turner

Book: Scarborough by Catherine Hernandez

Jen Turner

Book Cover: Scarborough by Catherine Hernandez

Jen Turner sits on the Board of Directors for the Bradford West Gwillimbury Public Library. During the day she is the Manager of Public Policy and Engagement for BGC Canada (formerly Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada). Jen has worked across the non-profit sector in public policy, government relations, evaluation, and community engagement. In her spare time, she loves reading and dabbling in circus and strength sports.

Scarborough is a poignant multi-voiced novel about the troubled life in the inner city living in low-income neighbourhoods. It offers a raw yet empathetic glimpse into a troubled community that locates its dignity in unexpected places: a neighbourhood that refuses to be undone.

Essa Public Library

Champion: Amy Kiezebrink

Book: The Maid by Nita Prose

Amy KiezebrinkBook Cover: The Maid by Nita Prose

Amy is a lover of all things literature and laughter. Amy is a wife, mother, graphic designer, writer and sarcasm specialist. When she’s not chasing around her three boys and doing copious amounts of laundry, she loves reading anything and everything to a point where her “to be read” list is getting out of hand. Along with owning her own Beauty and the Beast library, her goal is to write and design her own book on the adventures of motherhood.

The Maid is a Clue-like, locked-room mystery, and a heartwarming journey of the spirit. A locked-room mystery & a heartwarming journey of the spirit, The Maid explores what it means to be the same as everyone else & yet entirely different.

Innisfil ideaLAB & Library - Winner of Simcoe Reads 2023

Champion: Raj Grover

Book: On the Ravine by Vincent Lam

Raj GroverBook Cover: On the Ravine by Vincent Lam

Dr. Raj Grover is the Medical Director of the Medical Imaging Department at Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre, and a member of both the Innisfil Public Library and RVH Foundation Board. He is a passionate community champion and father of two eager readers. Dr. Grover has a keen interest in how our public institutions can support healthy communities and reflect the diversity and needs of our residents.

On the Ravine is an exquisitely crafted novel, piercing in its urgency and breathtaking in its intimacy, about the devastating experience of addiction. It is a thrilling novel that compassionately explores the doctor/patient relationship, addiction and loss.

Midland Public Library

Champion: Roberta Douglas

Book: Breast Cancer: After the Diagnosis by Jayne Pritchard

Roberta Douglasbook cover image of breast canacer after the diagnosis by jane pritchard

Roberta Douglas is a proud wife, mother of three children, and a new grandma to a beautiful granddaughter. She enjoys long walks, hot yoga and curling in the winter, and spending time with family and close friends. Roberta’s family owns and operates Bell Falls Family Campground, the Royal Tea on King Boutique & Gift Shop, and the Georgian Bakery, a longtime community favourite. Roberta is the proud mama bear of a brain tumour warrior, and looks forward to building a local charity walk to support her son and others with similar journeys.

Breast Cancer After The Diagnosis, shares what Jayne, a long time news anchor with CTV News Barrie, went through over a three-year period of emotional ups and downs, including several setbacks after her diagnosis of breast cancer. 

New Tecumseth Public Library

Champion: Melissa Medaglia

Book: Women Talking: A Novel by Miriam Toews

Melissa MedagliaBook Cover for Women Talking: A Novel by Miriam Toews

Melissa is a feminist, advocate and maker who values community, friendship and a good book. After studying Women’s Studies at York University, Melissa settled in Alliston with her young family and made this community her home. For over 10 years, she has worked as a Front Line Women’s Counsellor and Advocate at My Sister’s Place, South Simcoe’s only Women and Children Shelter. All her life, people have been drawn to Melissa’s creative spirit, old soul and listening ear.

Women Talking is based on real events. Toews' masterful novel uses wry, politically engaged humor to relate this tale of women claiming their own power to decide.

Ramara Public Library

Champion: Jane Ste. Marie

Book: A World of Curiosities by Louise Penny

Jane Ste. Marie

Book Cover: A World of Curiosities by Louise Penny

Jane has been an avid reader since the age of 4. She received a B.A. in French and Spanish and trained as a secondary school teacher. She taught in Sarnia and eventually went on to work for her provincial union. She retired and moved to beautiful Brechin where she and her husband enjoy a rich social circle and a dizzying array of volunteer activities. She is a stepmother to four grown children and a grandmother of 12. She is the current Chair of the Ramara Public Library Board. 

 A World of Curiosities is a crime mystery novel which delves into the nature of evil, sensitively exploring the impact of dreadful events.

Simcoe Reads 2022

Champions and Books

Essa Public Library - Winner of Simcoe Reads 2022


  Champion: Krista White

  Book: Washington Black

  By: Esi Edugyan



Barrie Public Library


  Champion: Claudine Cousins

  Book: Can You Hear Me Now? 

  By: Celina Caesar-Chavannes 



Bradford West Gwillimbury Public Library 


  Champion: Meade Helman 

  Book: Hench 

  By: Natalie Zina Walschots 



Innisfil ideaLAB & Library


  Champion: Jeanette Luchese

  Book: Not on My Watch 

  By: Alexandra Morton 




Midland Public Library 


  Champion: Susanne Marchand

  Book: The Last High 

  By: Daniel Kalla 




 New Tecumseth Public Library 


  Champion: Shira Harrison

  Book: What Strange Paradise 

  By: Omar El Akkad




Ramara Public Library 

  Champion: Dorothy MacDonald

  Book: The Forgotten Home Child 

  By: Genevieve Graham



Simcoe Reads 2022 - Grand Finale Video (click picture to watch)

 picture of video for simcoe reads grand finale 2022

Simcoe Reads 2022 - Grand Finale Video (click picture to watch)

picture of video for simcoe reads grand finale 2022


Simcoe Reads 2021

Champions and Books

Essa Public Library - Winner of Simcoe Reads 2021


  Champion: Grace Baker

  Book: Gutter Child 

  By: Jael Richardson  


Barrie Public Library

  Champion: Carolina Belmares

  Book: A Mind Spread Out On the Ground 

  By: Alicia Elliott 


Bradford West Gwillimbury Public Library


  Champion: Emily Dahlgren

  Book: Ayesha at Last 

  By: Uzma Jalaluddin  


Innisfil ideaLAB & Library


  Champion: Anne Smith

  Book: The Company We Keep 

  By: Frances Itani 


Midland Public Library


  Champion: Cady McLaughlin

  Book: The Centaur’s Wife 

  By: Amanda Leduc


New Tecumseth Public Library


  Champion: Judy Penz Sheluk

  Book: Greenwood 

  By: Michael Christie


Ramara Public Library


  Champion: Linda Lyons

  Book: Indians on Vacation 

  By: Thomas King



Simcoe Reads 2021 - Grand Finale Video (click picture to watch)

Simcoe Reads 2020

Champions and Books

Barrie Public Library - Winner of Judge's Choice Award


  Champion: Lisa Morgan

  Book: An Ocean of Minutes

  By: Thea Lim


Bradford West Gwillimbury Public Library


  Champion: Noora Akhavan

  Book: Empire of Wild

  By: Cherie Dimaline


 Essa Public Library - Winner of Community Choice Award


  Champion: Emily Wood

  Book: The Saturday Night Ghost Club

  By: Craig Davidson


Innisfil ideaLAB & Library 

  Champion: Lynn Dollin

  Book: Moon of the Crusted Snow

  By: Waubgeshig Rice


Midland Public Library 

  Champion: Kristi Presse

  Book: From the Ashes

 By: Jesse Thistle




2020 Grand Finale