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

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Book Cover Chinkstar

On Our Radar

[August 27, 2015] | By [Kerry Clare]

New books with buzz worth sharing: titles by Jon Chan Simpson, Austin Clarke, Jamie Sharpe, and Monica Kulling and Marie …

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Dulce de Leche Buttermilk Ice Cream

Summer Eats: Dulce de Leche Buttermilk Ice Cream

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

A delicious recipe from A Taste of Haida Gwaii, a new cookbook by Susan Musgrave.

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Shelf Talkers: August 2015

Shelf Talkers: August 2015

[August 24, 2015] | By [Rob Wiersema]

A heartfelt thank you to passionate booksellers, and as usual, a stellar roundup of recos!

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Book Cover In times Like These

In Times Like These: On #elxn42 and the Suffragists

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

For over a century, suffragists fought to acquire rights to expand fairness and justice. They were imperfect but we shou …

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Book Cover Sistering

Jennifer Quist on the Family Saga

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

"Women can’t help but out-master men when it comes to harrowing, genuine stories about how families are made." 

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Book Cover the Princess and the Pony

Most Anticipated: Our Fall 2015 Books for Young People Preview

[August 17, 2015] | By [Kerry Clare]

Canadian children's literature has never been so good. 

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Book Cover Life Among the Qallunaat

“One day, somebody is going to forget”: A Conversation With Mini Aodla Freeman

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

On how Freeman came to write her memoir, its enthusiastic reception by readers, and how copies were kept in a basement a …

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Roasted Tomatoes

Summer Eats: Roasted Tomatoes from Per La Familiglia

[August 10, 2015] | By [Kerry Clare]

Give your Canadian summer a mediterranean twist with this recipe for roasted tomatoes from Emily Richards' Per La Famigl …

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Book Cover Beyond the Pale

Emily Urquhart on Urban Legends

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

Legends help to enforce the codes by which we live, but how we live changes and this affects the stories we tell.

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Elvis and Othello

What Both Elvis and Othello Knew

[August 6, 2015] | By [Kerry Clare]

In his provocative and accessible new book, Critical Condition: Replacing Critical Thinking With Creativity, Patrick Fin …

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On Our Radar

"On Our Radar" is a monthly 49th Shelf 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.


Chinkstar, by Jon Chan Simpson

Reviewed by Carleigh Baker in Globe Books:

"Chinkstar is a fresh and totally badass exploration of history, language and cultural truthiness—straight outta Red Deer. Jon Chan Simpson battles the tropes of Chinese-Canadian culture, tongue firmly in cheek. And what better place for an epic battle than Simpson’s central Alberta hometown? Our home defines us, as does our history. But what if the stories our parents and grandparents pass on are coloured by shame? In Chinkstar, Simpson addresses what he sees as an element of victimization in Chinese-Canadian immigrant history. With wit and wisdom, he creates a braided narrative of past and present, with characters who are blazing a trail toward the future."

Read the whole thing here. 


'Membering, by Austin Clarke

Reviewed by Steven W. Beattie in Quill & Quire

"Reading Cl …

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Summer Eats: Dulce de Leche Buttermilk Ice Cream

Dulce de Leche Buttermilk Ice Cream

Photo Credit: Michelle Furbacher

You know how there are people who talk about reading cookbooks in bed, just for the pleasure of the reading? Susan Musgrave's A Taste of Haida Gwaii is precisely the kind of cookbook they're talking about. For example, the chief appeal of the following recipe for Dulce de Leche Buttermilk Ice Cream is not actually the inevitable delicious, but lines like, "When things end up burnt in my kitchen there isn’t usually a happy ending. My burnt messes never end up starring in a Winning Desserts of the World cookbook. They go over the cliff onto the riverbank where the ravens and eagles do daily fly-by’s hoping for a fiasco in my kitchen."


But yes, enjoy the ice cream too. Technically (by which we mean seasonally, and not by the school calendar) there still remain weeks and weeks of summer. 


I have combined Smitten Kitchen’s Buttermilk Ice Cream and Dulce de Leche Ice Cream recipes to come up with a recipe that is the best of both worlds.

Serves 4


1 cup (250 mL) heavy cream

3/4 cup (190 mL) dulce de leche (purchased, or homemade, see Aside)

6 large egg yolks

1 cup (250 mL) buttermilk

1 tbsp (15 mL) vanilla or one whole vanilla bean, scraped and simmered w …

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Shelf Talkers: August 2015

Normally in this space, I try to write something a little clever by way of an introduction to the current round of recommendations from our panel of independent booksellers. (I say “try”—cleverness isn’t something that one can rely on, as my fourth-grade teacher often told me, usually before sending me out into the hallway to think about what I had done.) This month, though, I’m going to go with something a little different: sincerity. Sincerity and gratitude.

I spent more than two decades—the greater part of my adult life—as a bookseller. I know their concerns, the pressures upon them, the constant flurry and flux they face as the industry shifts and heaves around them.

And as a writer, I want to say, simply, thank you.

What independent booksellers do isn’t easy. They face frequently overwhelming odds and strains, long days, and recurring doubts. It isn’t an easy life. And yet, every day, they find time to read. The booksellers I know read incessantly; the backrooms and sales floors of every independent bookstore I’ve ever been to are a hum of “Have you read this?” and “What did you think of that?” No matter the financial pressures and the ongoing stresses, booksellers find time to immerse themselves in books new and old, to read deeply and passionately.

They are also, it has to be said, some of the most critical readers you are ever liable to meet: if they feel strongly enough about a book to recommend it, you know it’s a good one. They won’t dis …

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In Times Like These: On #elxn42 and the Suffragists

Book Cover In Times Like These

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.

Veronica (Nikki) Strong-Boag is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and Professor Emerita in UBC’s Institute for Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice and the Department of Educational Studies and Director of the pro-democracy website,


2015’s unprecedented 78-day federal election campaign exposes the perilous state of fairness and justice in Canada. My war bride mother’s favourite adage in raising three children, "Don’t care will be made to care," is more relevant than ever. So too is Joni Mitchell’s more lyrical warning from 1970, a peak moment for so many equality campaigns: "You don’t know what you’ve got 'til it’s gone."

Why, we should ask, is the 21st century still jammed with missing and murdered women, everyday threats to women’s reproductive choice and safety, preju …

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Jennifer Quist on the Family Saga

Book Cover Sistering

Jennifer Quist's novel, Sistering, was just published, and it's already buzzing with great reviews and suggestions that it's a contender for the Leacock Award for Humour. This the second novel by Quist, whose first book, which won her an Alberta Lieutenant Governor’s Emerging Artist Award, was longlisted for the 2015 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and was a finalist for a 2013 Whitney Award. Sistering is the story of five admirable but slightly deranged sisters, each with her own peculiar morbid fascinations, and while it's funny—"a romp," as the cover says—it's also part a genre less inclined toward hilarity: the family saga.

In this guest post, Quist breaks down what the family saga is all about. We've also made a list of some of our favourites here


Complaining about being sorted into categories by booksellers, libraries, and anyone else has become the trite stuff of clunky interviews where authors desperately explain how their books are so much more than their labels. Categories are hated but necessary. Little orients an idly-browsing reader to a new literary find like a good label. That’s a good label—all categories are not equally meaningful. Some may be too vast and diverse to be useful. For instance, what, exactly, is a "family sag …

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