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A blog on Canadian writing, reading, and everything in between

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Book Cover The Ward

John Lorinc: The City in Four Dimensions

[May 22, 2015] | By [Kerry Clare]

What can urban history teach us about the cities we live in right now?

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Book Cover Safe as Houses

Safe as Houses: A List by Susan Glickman

[May 21, 2015] | By [Kerry Clare]

Because houses have many more sides than just four walls.

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The Interruption With Jane Munro

The Interruption With Jane Munro

[May 20, 2015] | By [Sean Cranbury]

The first in a series of Interruptions with Griffin Poetry Prize finalists!

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Book Cover The Corpse With the Sapphire Eyes

Holey Tales: 7 Literary Sleuths Are on the Case for Mystery Month

[May 19, 2015] | By [Kerry Clare]

In which writers use a mysterious hole as a starting point for a mystery. The results are wildly diverse, a lot of fun, …

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Book Cover The Merit Birds

More Than One Side to Every Story

[May 14, 2015] | By [Kerry Clare]

Kelley Powell, author of YA novel The Merit Birds, on novels that inhabit multiple points of view. 

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Shelf Talkers: May 2015

Shelf Talkers: May 2015

[May 12, 2015] | By [Rob Wiersema]

Fiction and poetry, adult books and a kids book, this installment of Shelf Talkers is a veritable bouquet of spring bloo …

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Book Cover Ruined Abbey

Ten Mystery Books to Read This Spring

[May 11, 2015] | By [Kerry Clare]

'Tis the season to curl up with mystery!

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Book Cover Magna Carta and Its Gifts to Canada

Magna Carta: From Medieval England to Canada Today

[May 8, 2015] | By [Kerry Clare]

How an obscure thirteenth century charter became the foundation document in the history of democracy, law, and human rig …

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Book Cover Lessons from Mother Earth

Notes from a Children's Librarian: Books for Mother's Day

[May 7, 2015] | By [Kerry Clare]

Mothers come in many forms in these books that put moms in the spotlight. 

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The Recommend: May 2015

The Recommend: May 2015

[May 6, 2015] | By [Kiley Turner]

Today's The Recommend comes courtesy of Steve Burrows, author of the birder mystery, A Siege of Bitterns; Gail Bowen, au …

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John Lorinc: The City in Four Dimensions

Book Cover The Ward

Talking History focuses on a wide range of topics in Canadian history, and it consists of articles by Canada's foremost historians and history experts. Our contributors use the power of narrative to bring the past to life and to show how it is not just relevant, but essential to our understanding of Canada and the world today. "Talking History" is a series made possible through a special funding grant from the Department of Canadian Heritage.

John Lorinc is a Toronto urban affairs journalist and co-editor, with Michael McClelland, Ellen Scheinberg and Tatum Taylor, of The Ward: The Life and Loss of Toronto’s First Immigrant Neighbourhood.

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When I was growing up, in North Toronto in the early 1970s, I loved to thumb through a picture book that my parents had acquired as part of a small collection of titles about the city’s history. They had fled Hungary during the 1956 revolution, settled in Toronto and set to work becoming Canadians, and, as the presence of those books suggested, Torontonians as well.

Some of these volumes documented a time that seemed impossibly remote. They contained (to my eye) dust-dry tales of stern Anglicans and colonial superintendents presiding over a town depicted in engravings that bore no discernible similarity to the city I was com …

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Safe as Houses: A List by Susan Glickman

Book Cover Safe as Houses

Our next stop for Mystery Month is Safe as Houses by Susan Glickman. It's the story of a quiet Toronto neighbourhood disturbed by a murder in its midst, a book that portrays the uncanniness of discovering that our safe places have hidden dangers after all. And it's true that houses have many more sides than just four walls. In this list—whose expansiveness is fitting for an author who has written for a children and adults—Glickman shares ten stories with a house at their centres. 

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My new novel, Safe as Houses, is a murder mystery that plays with the assumption that a house is always a safe place. Home can be a refuge; family (another meaning of “house”, as in the house of Windsor) can be those who love you best. But home can also be a prison, and those you live with your greatest torment. Here are some other Canadian books, for both adults and kids, which ask whether a house is always a home—or even whether a home need be an actual house. 

 

Something from Nothing, by Phoebe Gilman

A beautiful picture book that parents and children will both e …

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The Interruption With Jane Munro

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Hi everyone! Welcome to a special edition of The Interruption. Today and for the next few episodes we will be featuring interviews with and readings by the Canadian poets who have been shortlisted for the prestigious Griffin Poetry Prize.

Today I am speaking with Vancouver poet Jane Munro, whose book of poems, Blue Sonoma, was published by Brick Books in 2014. Jane is the author of five previous books of poetry, most recently Active Pass (2010) and Point No Point (2006). Her work has received the Bliss Carman Poetry Award, the Macmillan Prize for Poetry, and been nominated for the Pat Lowther Award.

The Interruption is a 49th Shelf–Books on the Radio collaboration in which I interview Canadian writers about the surprising things that inform, inspire, and even interrupt their creative process.Thanks to our friends at the Griffin Poetry Prize for being so helpful in arranging these interviews.*****

 

 

 
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Holey Tales: 7 Literary Sleuths Are on the Case for Mystery Month

For a few weeks earlier this year, a mysterious tunnel in Toronto captured the nation's imagination. There is something about a hole in the ground that suggests infinite possibility, an empty space into which all kinds of stories can be projected. A point that is proven by the seven writers who responded to our Hole in the Ground Challenge for Mystery Month. These writers' task was to use a mysterious hole as a starting point for a mystery and to put their literary detectives be on the case. The hole's specifics—where, what, and why—would be determined by the literary universe in which their detectives exist, providing our readers with an idea of what to expect from these writers' new novels, and the detectives themselves with a bit of an extra-textual challenge. 

The results are wildly diverse, a lot of fun, and make for some excellent short reads. 

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The Corpse With the Sapphire Eyes

A Hole in the Ground, by Cathy Ace

It all began just before 8:00 AM when I looked out of my office window from the school of criminology at the University of Vancouver. See a group of undergrads standing in a circle peering at the floor? Chances are something’s up. Sipping lukewarm coffee, I opened my window to hear what was being …

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More Than One Side to Every Story

Book Cover The Merit Birds

May is Mystery Month at 49th Shelf, and we're having fun highlighting suspense-filled titles coming out this spring. Today it's The Merit Birds, by Kelley Powell, a YA novel about an angry young man who is wrongfully accused of murder and ends up in a Laotian prison. Powell builds suspense by having her narrative inhabit multiple points of view, and here she shares other titles—many also with international themes and some intrigue—that similarly use a variety of voices to enable their reader an experience of multiple dimensions. 

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Like any split personality, multiple-point of view (POV) novels can get messy and challenging. But when they are done right—ahh—it’s like having all of your friends in the same room at the same time. Multiple perspectives help to create suspense, ramp up tension and give the reader a fuller understanding of a situation. Here are some that stand out:

Barney’s Version, by Mordecai Richler

When polling friends and random strangers on the bus about Canadian POV novels, this one came up most often. The 2010 movie may ha …

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