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

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Book Cover Outside of Ordinary

Intrepid Travellers: Canadian Women in the World

[March 2, 2015] | By [Kerry Clare]

In the run-up to International Women's Day, we're celebrating women's stories, beginning with this cross-genre list—me …

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Book Cover Status Update

On Our Radar: Olesen, Berkhout, Tsiang, Stratton, and Crozier

[February 26, 2015] | By [Kerry Clare]

"On Our Radar" is a monthly series featuring books with buzz worth sharing. We bring you links to features and reviews a …

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Book Cover That Boy Red

Notes from a Children's Librarian: PEI Books

[February 24, 2015] | By [Kerry Clare]

There's more to PEI's children's literature than just Anne Shirley. 

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Freedom to Read Week Banner

Freedom to Read Week: Mark Bourrie on our Right to Know

[February 23, 2015] | By [Kerry Clare]

The author of Kill the Messengers: Stephen Harper’s Assault on Your Right to Know on government censorship, and what C …

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Movie Poster Prologue

Stuart Henderson: Why Lessons of 1960s' Counterculture Still Matter Today

[February 20, 2015] | By [Kerry Clare]

A near-forgotten 1960s' film encapsulates ideas we're still grappling with about how to build a better world. 

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Black Ice: The Val James Story

Black Ice: The Val James Story

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

An excerpt from the new autobiography by the first African American player in the NHL.

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The Interruption With Sean Michaels

The Interruption With Sean Michaels

[February 18, 2015] | By [Sean Cranbury]

Today Sean Cranbury talks to Sean Michaels, Giller Prize-winning author of Us Conductors. Michaels also graces us with a …

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The Cold of Winter

The Cold of Winter

[February 18, 2015] | By [Kiley Turner]

And now, a small break from regular winter whining.

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Book Cover Eating Habits of the Chronically Lonesome

The State of the Canadian Short Story in 2015

[February 16, 2015] | By [Kerry Clare]

We check in with fine writers across the country to find out where Canadian stories are at. 

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Book Cover How to Breathe Under Water

Chris Turner: The History of Climate Change

[February 13, 2015] | By [Kerry Clare]

"We live in the age of climate change. Every story is a climate change story. Climate change is not an issue, but rather …

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Intrepid Travellers: Canadian Women in the World

This month at 49thShelf, we're Writing the World, exploring travel guides and memoirs, and books with global issues and international themes. And this week in particular, in the run-up to International Women's Day, we're celebrating women's stories, beginning with this cross-genre list—memoir, fiction, and poetry—of Canadian women's travel tales.

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Book Cover Outside of Ordinary

Outside of Ordinary: Women's Travel Stories, edited by Lynn Cecil and Catherine Bancroft

Thirty-two Canadian women writers—including Alison Pick, Sharon Butala, and Lorna Crozier—tell their travel stories in this anthology of stories in which lives are challenged spiritually, physically, emotionally, and otherwise, as well as deeply enriched. Elaine K. Miller cycles across the Southern United States, Janet Greidanus climbs to Everest Base Camp, and Jane Eaton Hamilton, on vacation in Mexico with her partner, contemplates whether to join the fight for same-sex marriage in Canada. For it seems that travel doesn't just change one's view of the world, but it changes also how one sees one's own self, and also notions of home. 

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Book Cover Burmese Lessons
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On Our Radar: Olesen, Berkhout, Tsiang, Stratton, and Crozier

"On Our Radar" is a monthly series featuring books with buzz worth sharing. We bring you links to features and reviews about great new books in a multitude of genres from all around the Internet.

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Kinds of Winter: Four Solo Journeys by Dogsled Through Canada's Northwest Territories, by Dave Olesen

The Lucky Seven Interview, Open Book Toronto:

"The central question of the book is not a question but a quest. One man’s quest for a deeper appreciation of his chosen home place in the Far North. Northern Canada is a place so fraught with clichés and stereotypes that it rarely emerges honestly in written descriptions. Throughout my years in the north I have always chafed against those sappy portrayals which constrain and alter perceptions of the North. As I got farther into the writing I also came to grips with my own lifelong fascination with North and with 'north-ness.' What was driving me out the door into the cold at 40 below zero? Why this lifelong fixation on North? Those are questions that emerged as I wrote, and I try to answer them in the book."

Read the entire interview here. 

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Notes from a Children's Librarian: PEI Books

Each month our resident Children's Librarian, Julie Booker, brings us a new view from the stacks.

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The overriding link between these titles is Prince Edward Island, but keep an eye out for the recurring red-heads!

Book Cover Ghost Boy of MacKenzie House

In Ghost Boy of MacKenzie House, by Patti Larsen, Chloe is forced to leave Ottawa to live in rural PEI, after the sudden death of her parents. Through her grief, she must adjust not only to her Aunt Larry's huge rambling house, the fields, the ocean, and all that space, but also to the chatty red-headed boy, one of seven siblings, from the neighbouring farm, who wants to be fast friends. A ghost appears, launching Chloe on the trail of a local mystery. Larsen's detailed, descriptive writing beautifully captures the PEI landscape and its people. For grades 4 to 6.

Book Cover Powerpuff Girls

They're cute. They're funny. They're the Powerpuff Girls, now rebooted in a graphic novel series by PEI resident, Troy Little. The cherub-like girls were created in the lab by their Professor Dad from “sugar, spice and everything nice” (and some awesome superpowers.) Buttercup lik …

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Freedom to Read Week: Mark Bourrie on our Right to Know

Freedom to Read Week Banner 2015

Freedom to Read Week is an annual event that encourages Canadians to celebrate and reaffirm our commitment to intellectual freedom, which is guaranteed to us under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It is also an opportunity to discuss and debate threats to free expression on all levels (from the library book objected to in a small town to a tragedy played out on the world stage, such as the shootings at Charlie Hebdo). 

In conjunction with Freedom to Read Week 2015, we discuss censorship and information-access issues with Mark Bourrie, author of Kill the Messengers: Stephen Harper’s Assault on Your Right to Know. Mark Bourrie appears this Friday, February 27, at the Toronto Reference Library as part of The Decline and Fall of Investigative Journalism event, with all proceeds going to PEN Canada. 

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49thShelf: In Canada, Freedom to Read Week has always been rung in with a note of triumph. We don’t ban books here, and it’s funny to learn about the reader in Edmonton who challenged Ziggy Piggy and the Three Little Pigs because of porcine bad behaviour. But your book suggests that Canadians shouldn’t be so smug. How is our freedom to read (to learn, to know) being infringed upon by government policy?

Mark Bourrie: Books and articles do get printed, but the go …

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Stuart Henderson: Why Lessons of 1960s' Counterculture Still Matter Today

Prologue Movie Poster

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.

Stuart Henderson is a documentary film producer with 90th Parallel Productions, and author of Making the Scene: Yorkville and Hip Toronto in the 1960s.

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When Canadian filmmaker Robin Spry died in a car wreck ten years ago this March, he was chiefly remembered as the man whose cameras had chronicled the infamous FLQ kidnappings of 1970. But, despite the fact that Action, his celebrated, if controversial, 1973 documentary about the October Crisis, has come to be remembered as his crowning achievement, I am actually here to discuss one of Spry’s least-revered works, the mostly forgotten 1969 gem Prologue. Because: this forgetting is a mistake. Indeed, as an historian of the period, this film stands as the one I am most inclined to watch and re-watch, looking for clues.

Despite being awarded a BAFTA for best documentary in 1970 …

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