Off the Page

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

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Book Cover Nobody Cares

Anne T. Donahue Doesn't Think of You At All

By [Kerry Clare]

The author of Nobody Cares on growing up, getting it together, and why she doesn't fear cheese-loving Toni Collette fans …

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Book Cover The Cowkeeper's Wish

Tracy Kasaboski and Kristen den Hartog on Writing History

By [Kerry Clare]

Authors of new book The Cowkeeper's Wish on their writing process, and the books that inspired them along the way.

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Book Cover The Suitcase and the Jar

Becky Livingston on Endings, Courage, Uncertainty, and Surrender

By [Kerry Clare]

Book recommendations by the author of new memoir of grief and travel, The Suitcase and the Jar. 

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The Chat with Craig Davidson

The Chat with Craig Davidson

By [Trevor Corkum]

Craig Davidson has returned with his latest novel, The Saturday Night Ghost Club. It tells the tale of Jake Baker, a neu …

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Book Cover In Valhalla's Shadows

Valgardson’s Reading List

By [Kerry Clare]

A recommended reading list by the author of new book In Valhalla's Shadows

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Shelf Talkers: Women, Songs, Oceans, Freedom, and Hellfire

Shelf Talkers: Women, Songs, Oceans, Freedom, and Hellfire

By [Rob Wiersema]

These are all fiction, all novels, but it’s striking just how close these picks hew to the real world, and what is goi …

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Book Cover the Luminous Sea

The Syllabus: Back-to-School Books for Grownups

By [Kerry Clare]

Campus novels, literary homages, and historical imaginings. 

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The Recommend for September 2018

The Recommend for September 2018

By [Kiley Turner]

This week we're pleased to present the picks of Sarah Selecky, author of Radiant Shimmering Light; Jennifer Robson, auth …

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Book Cover Bus to the Badlands

Back to School Books

By [Kerry Clare]

A wealth of books for readers of all ages about school, learning, friendship, and getting along in the world.

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Logo Bookfest Windsor

Your Fall 2018 Literary Festival Guide

By [Kerry Clare]

Find out what's going on near you. 

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Anne T. Donahue Doesn't Think of You At All

Nobody Cares is Anne T. Donahue's first book, a collection of essays about growing up, getting it together, and reconciling what it means to be a work in progress. 

*****

49th Shelf: In your book you espouse some pretty controversial views—you hate cheese AND show a disregard for Muriel's Wedding. Do you worry at all about alienating cheese-loving Toni Collette fans?

Muriel's Wedding Poster

Anne T. Donahue: Absolutely not. First, because I have every line spoken by Toni Collette in The Sixth Sense memorized and aspire to be more like that character on a daily basis, so I recognize her as both a Queen and God. Second, because my hatred of cheese is no secret. I've tweeted about it, mentioned it on podcasts, and ordered cheese-less pizza for years. As a result, the dairy lobby's been after me for years. And while that is an absolute lie, I'm ready for when they finally declare me their enemy.

49th Shelf: At the moment, the market is saturated with self-help books pushing women to be "more" and "better." You take a different approach, and write about owning your failures, and even t …

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Tracy Kasaboski and Kristen den Hartog on Writing History

Authors of new book The Cowkeeper's Wish on their writing process, and the books that inspired them along the way.

*****

The Cowkeeper’s Wish chronicles our English family, beginning in the 1840s in London, England, and finishing up in London, Ontario, in the 1930s, when our grandparents married. The story is divided into three parts—the Victorian years, set in some of London’s poorest neighbourhoods; the First World War; and the post-war period, when our 10-year-old grandmother came to Canada in the care of a family friend. A story that covers so much ground requires an exhausting amount of research. It took us nine years to complete, with a few breaks here and there to rejuvenate with other projects, and while at times it seemed we would never finish, the work never felt boring. Learning about all these periods, and our family’s place in a larger history, was fascinating. We read widely to understand everything from workhouse life to the suffragette movement to social reform. Now, knowing as much as we do about our family’s path, we find connections with many other stories, though told in different ways. Here’s a list of books that we find inspiring.

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Kristen’s list:

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Becky Livingston on Endings, Courage, Uncertainty, and Surrender

The Suitcase and the Jar is Becky Livingston's memoir of a journey through grief, and across the world. In this recommended reading list, she shares other books that highlight themes in her memoir.

*****

I’ve always loved geography. “See the world,” said my father, “it’s the best education you can get.” By nine years old I’d figured out that a love of travel would be a guarantee of his love. When we were 17, my best friend and I bought our £55 Inter Rail tickets and off we went to see the sights of Europe. In the years that followed: a month touring Switzerland; a summer in the Catskills as a camp counselor; a year in Massachusetts studying for my Masters; a year’s teaching exchange in Queensland. You get the idea.

My oldest daughter Rachel shared my travel bug. At 18, two months after her radiation treatment ended, she was given the all clear from her team of doctors and off she went to New Zealand, alone, for five months. At twenty: two months in Europe. She was happiest traveling.

Five years on, her brain tumour came back. In her final days, Rachel’s father asked her, “How about your mum and I take your ashes whenever we go traveling?” 

She nodded, “Yes.”

Adventure and travel often trump the bedrock reality of the daily grind, seducing us in …

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The Chat with Craig Davidson

CraigDavidson@KevinKelly
TREVOR CORKUM cropped

Craig Davidson has returned with his latest novel, The Saturday Night Ghost Club. It tells the tale of Jake Baker, a neurosurgeon looking back on a pivotal childhood friendship and the secret ghost-busting club he forms with his mysterious Uncle Calvin. It’s a moving coming-of-age tale of friendship, creepy occult lore, and wicked nighttime adventure.

Quill & Quire says, “For sheer storytelling prowess, and the chops to scare readers screwy with monsters both real and of our own imagining, the label of Canada’s Stephen King—if we insist on handing it out—belongs to Craig Davidson, claws down.”

Craig Davidson was born and grew up in St. Catharines, Ontario, near Niagara Falls. He has published four previous books of literary fiction, including Rust and Bone, which was the inspiration for a Golden Globe-nominated feature film of the same name; and the Scotiabank Giller Prize-nominated novel Cataract City. His bestselling memoir, Precious Cargo, about his year spent driving a school bus for children with special needs, was a finalist for Canada …

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Valgardson’s Reading List

In Valhalla’s Shadows is a thrilling crime novel with an extraordinary cast of characters set on the shores of Lake Winnipeg. In it, W.D. Valgardson shapes a portrait of small-town living while masterfully weaving in threads of Icelandic mythology as well as discussions of contemporary issues such as systemic racism within the justice system and the lasting effects of PTSD on first responders.

In this recommended reading list, he shares other titles that explores these themes and ideas. 

*****

Ten Years in Winnipeg, 1870-79, by Alexander Begg and Walter R. Nursey

This journal written during the turbulent years of Winnipeg’s birth gives a raw chronology of the events that would determine the city’s future, presents characters determined to wrest fortunes from the land, and provides insights into the machinations that made some people fortunes. There is nothing polished about the narrative and that is what makes it valuable. It is available online.

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