We Invite You to Read by the Sea Virtually!

Read by the Sea is back in July 2021. To keep everyone safe, we’re moving to a virtual festival format. You’ll still see and hear our amazing slate of authors read from their wonderful works via video recordings. And we’re working out ways that you, dear readers, can submit your burning questions for them to answer.

Visit this website, our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/readbythesea) and our Twitter feed (@RJreadbythesea) often in the coming weeks for more details. In the meantime, click on our Main Stage and WordPlay page to see our 2021 author lineup so you can start reading their works now!

Dream of a sunny day, you’re relaxed in a lawn chair, a cool drink in your hand, listening to Canada’s finest authors reading to YOU!  That’s Read by the Sea Summer Literary Festival in River John.

In 2000, a small group of women from Nova Scotia’s North Shore established Read by the Sea as a means of bringing some of Canada’s best authors to the region each summer.  Initially a one-day event with four authors reading to a small crowd, the festival grew to include up to 12 authors in varying roles, with an annual audience that almost doubles the population of the village of River John.

More than 20 years later, Read by the Sea opens with WordPlay, a literary festival dedicated to children of all ages, and continues with WordStock, two days of unique literary shenanigans designed to encourage emerging writers and recognize the value of the region’s written and oral story-telling tradition.

The festival ends with MainStage, a grand finale featuring five author readings, with interviews, a moderated panel discussion, and a question and answer session.

Read by the Sea Main Stage

July 4th, 11:00am - 3:45pm
Located in the River John Legion garden (alternate rain venues will be available for outdoor events).  Picnics welcome!

Pitch the Publisher

July 4th, 9-10:30am
Located at the River John Legion.  Writers, sharpen your pencil for this literary Dragon’s Den

Swag Shoppe

July 4th
As usual, there will be a raffle of books, festival souvenirs at the Read by the Sea Swag Shoppe and a generally festive atmosphere.


July 1st, 1:00pm - 3:00pm
Dedicated children’s literary festival, at Mabel Murple’s Book Shoppe & Dreamery

Featured Authors

Throughout the festival
Joan Baxter, Pasha Malla, Amy Spurway,  Wayne Curtis, Rebecca Thomas.  Other authors, to be announced, will serve as MCs, moderators, interviewers, workshop leaders and more.


July 2nd - 3rd
Including heritage story walks, open mic, a meet ‘n’ greet hosted by local authors and a family story-telling campfire.

Pitch the Publisher starts early Saturday morning, to offer writers a chance to pitch new manuscripts to a panel of publishers. It ends in time for the grand finale, Read by the Sea Main Stage: an extravaganza of diverse Canadian literary stars reading, being interviewed, and answering audience questions – all to end the festival with a satisfying bang.

Throughout the year, Read by the Sea also offers PageTurners Book Club: a selection of works by featured authors that are available for loan to regional book clubs. Club members are encouraged to attend Read by the Sea to meet the authors in person.

Read by the Sea aims to promote Canadian literature by celebrating good books, the people who write them and the people who read them; and by encouraging new or non-readers to discover the joy of reading. The festival fosters diversity and provides equal access to both the authors and the audience, regardless of cultural, racial, gender, age, ability, socioeconomic or other circumstances.

In order to encourage everyone to participate, there are no admission fees to Read by the Sea events – although the festival does accept donations to support its mandate.  Remember to bring your lawn chair, sunscreen, sun hat, and a picnic lunch (if you wish). The authors’ books will be for sale at the sites where they read. The authors will also sign books for audience members upon request.