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Off the Page

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

Latest Blog Posts
A Nose for Adventure

Notes From a Children's Librarian: Funny Books for Young Teens

[April 20, 2014] | By [Kerry Clare]

Where are the funny books? Julie Booker gives us the scoop. 

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Jon Paul Fiorentino's Red Letter Day

Jon Paul Fiorentino's Red Letter Day

[April 17, 2014] | By [George Murray]

Red Letter Day is a new 49th Shelf series where Canadian authors tell contributing editor George Murray about a dream da …

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What Makes This Book So Great

Lady of Mazes: Jo Walton on What Makes Karl Schroeder's Book So Great

[April 17, 2014] | By [Kerry Clare]

Jo Walton rereads Karl Schroeder's Lady of Mazes in this excerpt from What Makes This Book So Great?

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The Interruption: Sean Cranbury Interviews Nancy Lee

The Interruption: Sean Cranbury Interviews Nancy Lee

[April 16, 2014] | By [Sean Cranbury]

In today's The Interruption podcast, Sean Cranbury interviews Nancy Lee, and Lee reads from her much-buzzed-about new no …

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Shelf Talkers for April 2014: A New Series by Robert J. Wiersema

Shelf Talkers for April 2014: A New Series by Robert J. Wiersema

[April 15, 2014] | By [Rob Wiersema]

Today—in the first installment of a new monthly series Robert J. Wiersema is doing for 49th Shelf, called Shelf Talker …

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Book Cover Well Heeled

Lesley-Anne Scorgie Takes the Pain Out of Tax Season

[April 14, 2014] | By [Kerry Clare]

April doesn't have to be the cruellest month when it comes to filing your taxes.

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The Recommend: Books From Andrew Kaufman, Dina Del Bucchia, Helen Humphreys, Joan Thomas, and Susin Nielsen

The Recommend: Books From Andrew Kaufman, Dina Del Bucchia, Helen Humphreys, Joan Thomas, and Susin Nielsen

[April 9, 2014] | By [Kiley Turner]

We're pleased to present the picks of multimedia artist and author Vivek Shraya; Vancouver librarian and lit fest organi …

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Don Draper Inferno

The Canadian Mad Men Reading List

[April 9, 2014] | By [Kerry Clare]

Because Megan Calvet isn't Mad Men's only Canadian connection...

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Book Cover Half For You and Half for Me

Katherine Govier: On Mother Goose and Reading With Mum

[April 7, 2014] | By [Kerry Clare]

What is the magic and what is the meaning of the nursery rhymes that stay in our heads for a lifetime? 

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Light

Behind the Poem: "When You Learn to Swim" by Souvankham Thammavongsa

[April 3, 2014] | By [Kerry Clare]

In which "one of the most interesting younger poets at work in this country" tells the story behind a poem. 

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Notes From a Children's Librarian: Funny Books for Young Teens

Our Children's Librarian columnist, Julie Booker, brings us a new view from the stacks every month.

*****

A ten year old’s question: “Where are the funny books?” made me think. In a sea of junior novels, what are the telltale signs? A jacket quote? A comical cover illustration? A title with whimsy? Beyond that, how does an author make writing humorous?

Each of these books has its own form of “funny”.

Alice, I Think, written by Susan Juby, is a perfect example of comedic voice. Written in diary form, Alice, a 15 year old home-schooled isolate, is finally attending high school. But her retro fashion sense makes her a bully magnet. The reader cringes at her Italian housedress, nurse shoes, accessorized by a Fred Flintstone lunch box. Besides a few beatings (one done by the bully, another done to the bully, by Alice’s mother) not much happens in this book. There’s the druggie cousin Frank who comes to live with them. And the co-dependent boyfriend whom her parents (and the reader) know is a loser. But we have to wait while Alice makes her own decisions. When she finally meets a boy (a male version of Alice) there’s an amusing sex scene suitable for ages 12 and up.

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Jon Paul Fiorentino's Red Letter Day

redletter

Red Letter Day is a new 49th Shelf series where Canadian authors tell me about a dream day where all pleasures are possible, thanks to a combination of extraordinary talent and mad cash.

Today that day is envisioned by Jon Paul Fiorentino, author, most recently, of I'm Not Scared of You or Anything (Anvil Press), his second collection of short fiction.

Here is the premise: It’s been a good year. Things are looking up. You’ve sold your book, some lucrative foreign rights, and won a few prizes. AND it’s your birthday. It’s time to treat yourself. For once, money is no object. It’s time to go live a little.

And so ...

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GM: You walk (or fly!) to your favourite bookstore (JPF: McNally Robinson in Winnipeg) and browse the shelves for three books you’ve been meaning to buy. What are they?

JPF:

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Lady of Mazes: Jo Walton on What Makes Karl Schroeder's Book So Great

What Makes This Book So Great

As any reader of Jo Walton's Among Others might guess, Walton is both an inveterate reader of SF and fantasy, and a chronic re-reader of books. In 2008, then-new science-fiction mega-site Tor.com asked Walton to blog regularly about her re-reading—about all kinds of older fantasy and SF, ranging from acknowledged classics, to guilty pleasures, to forgotten oddities and gems. These posts have consistently been among the most popular features of Tor.com. Now this volume presents a selection of the best of them, ranging from short essays to long reassessments of some of the field's most ambitious series.

We are excited to feature her piece on Lady of Mazes by Canadian SF writer Karl Schroeder. Schroeder's latest novel is Lockstep, which was just released last month.

*****

Karl Schroeder’s Lady of Mazes is one of the best pure SF novels of recent years. I read it in 2005 when it came out and was surprised it got so little attention. It seemed to me to be one of those books everyone would be talking about. I’ve just read it for the second time, and it holds up as well as ever. What a good book!

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The Interruption: Sean Cranbury Interviews Nancy Lee

BOTR_MARCH_2014_SQUARE

Welcome to The Interruption, 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.

Today, I chat with Nancy Lee, author of the new novel, The Age. Of The Age, Annabel Lyon says:

"Nancy Lee has created a world of contradictions for our times: thoughtful terrorists, naive cynics, children as parents, girls who dream as boys. In sharply poetic prose, she delineates a world of gorgeous horrors and eerie loves.”

Nancy Lee lived her early years in England before immigrating to Canada. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia. She has taught at the Simon Fraser University Writing and Publishing Program, and is the former Associate Director of the Booming Ground Writers Community.

Lee’s first book of fiction, Dead Girls, was named Book of the Year by NOW Magazine, and was a finalist for the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize and the Danuta Gleed Literary Award. Her work has appeared in numerous literary jo …

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Shelf Talkers for April 2014: A New Series by Robert J. Wiersema

shelftalkerslessonphoto

To paraphrase an old cliché: you can find any book online; you need a bookseller to find the right one.

One of the great joys of life as a bookseller is the relationships you build with readers in your community. These people are more than customers, something different from friends ... you share with them the intimate bond that develops between fellow travellers: you are readers, together.

And there are no more devoted readers than booksellers.

Every hour of every day in bookstores across this fine land, booksellers are handing their fellow readers new books with the simple, trusted entreaty: “Read this.”

And today—in the first installment of a new monthly series I'm doing for 49th Shelf, Shelf Talkers—we have five of this country’s finest booksellers pressing their picks on you.

Please follow the links through to explore some of your favourite independent booksellers, local and nationwide. And if you’re an independent bookseller with a book to recommend, please email me: rjwiersema at gmail dot com.

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galianoislandbooks

The Bookseller: Lindsay Williams from Gal …

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