Off the Page

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

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Shelf Talkers: Mysterious Disappearances, Bad Endings & Utopia in BC

Shelf Talkers: Mysterious Disappearances, Bad Endings & Utopia in BC

By [Rob Wiersema]

Including a Canadian icon, a hot new must-read, a business visionary, a stunning short story debut, and utopian inspirat …

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Book Cover The Stamp Collector

Notes from a Children's Librarian: Books on Integrity

By [Kerry Clare]

Julie Booker on characters with a strong moral code, those who find a way to stay true to themselves and the things they …

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The Chat With Michael V. Smith

By [Trevor Corkum]

Today I'm in conversation with Michael V. Smith, author of a brand spanking new collection of poems, Bad Ideas (Nightwoo …

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Book Cover So Much Love

Rebecca Rosenblum: Good Books for Hard Times

By [Kerry Clare]

Titles that provide a little levity. 

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Book Cover Just Jen

20 Life Stories Rocking Our World This Spring

By [Kerry Clare]

This month we're curling up in our proverbial chairs with life stories, biography and memoir, stories that run the gamut …

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Enter to Win! Join Kerry at IFOA

By [Craig Riggs]

Our very own Kerry Clare is appearing May 10 at IFOA in Toronto, in conversation with Rebecca Rosenblum. 

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The Chat With Catherine Hernandez

The Chat With Catherine Hernandez

By [Trevor Corkum]

We start off May in conversation with Catherine Hernandez, a multi-genre artist whose savvy debut novel Scarborough (Ars …

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Book Cover Daddy Hall

Gallery: Daddy Hall by Tony Miller

By [Kerry Clare]

A selection of linocuts from this unflinching portrait of a remarkable African-Canadian.

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Book Cover Under the Umbrella

13 Picture Books to Fall in Love With This Spring

By [Kerry Clare]

These gorgeous books will warm your heart, and whoever you're reading them to will like them just as much as you do. 

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The Chat With Elan Mastai

The Chat With Elan Mastai

By [Trevor Corkum]

This week we’re in conversation with Elan Mastai, author of the much-buzzed about debut novel All Our Wrong Todays.

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Shelf Talkers: Mysterious Disappearances, Bad Endings & Utopia in BC

Brace yourself: what I’m about to say may be shocking.

Are you ready?

It’s May.

In fact, it’s not just May – it’s the May long weekend. Go ahead, check your calendar. You’ll see.

Yes, the May long weekend. Victoria Day. The May 2-4. The unofficial start of Canada’s summer.

Well, most years. This year? Perhaps not so much. It’s been a very strange spring across the country. Virtually non-existent in some places. And now it’s time to open up the cottage? To chill out on a dock? To meet friends on a patio?

Fear not – we’re Canadian. We can do all those things, no matter the weather. We’ll just have to remember to pack a raincoat. And possibly a parka. And definitely a book. Or two.

For readers, Canada basically has two seasons: indoor reading, and outdoor reading. And while the variability of the weather might blur those seasons a bit this year, we’re nothing if not adaptable: sunglasses and cold drinks al fresco when the sun is shining, a cozy quilt and a hot beverage indoors when the skies turn grey. It all works out in the end.

But what to read?

Funny you should ask.

To kick off the summer reading season, Canada’s dedicated (and compulsive) independent booksellers have compiled a sterling selection of possibilities, from a Canadian icon to a hot new must-read, from a business visionary to a stunning short story debut, and more. A word of advice, though, given the weather? You might want to pack a couple of books. Just to be safe.

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Notes from a Children's Librarian: Books on Integrity

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

*****

The following picture books about integrity feature characters with a strong moral code, those who find a way to stay true to themselves and the things they believe in.

The Stamp Collector, by Jennifer Lanthier, illustrated by Francois Thisdale, introduces the concept of freedom of speech and imprisoned writers around the world. Two points of view are eloquently portrayed in this story. A city boy finds a stamp, igniting a lifelong love of stamps. A country boy reads voraciously and ends up bursting with stories. The first boy loves stories, too, but he must take a job as a prison guard to make a living. The country boy writes stories that expose the harsh conditions of his people, landing him in prison. Letters of support come from around the world and the guard wrestles with his desire to share them with the writer. A heavy tale, with an afterword outlining the role of PEN International. Grade 2+

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In A Handful of Seeds, by Monica Hughes, illustrated by …

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The Chat With Michael V. Smith

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TREVOR CORKUM cropped

It’s a pleasure to be back in conversation with Michael V. Smith, author of a brand spanking new collection of poems, Bad Ideas (Nightwood Editions).

According to The Province, Bad Ideas “deals heavily in themes of family, sexuality, spirituality, life and death. Smith’s poetry is moving, beautifully written and heartfelt.”

Michael V. Smith is a writer, comedian, filmmaker, performance artist, and occasional clown. He is the author of several books including What You Can’t Have (Signature Editions, 2006), which was short-listed for the ReLit Award, and My Body Is Yours (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2015), which was a Lambda Literary Award finalist. He is also the winner of the inaugural Dayne Ogilvie Prize for LGBT Emerging Writers and was nominated for the Journey Prize. Smith currently teaches creative writing at the University of British Columbia’s Okanagan campus in Kelowna.

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THE CHAT WITH MICHAEL V. SMITH

Trevor Corkum: As someone who’s had more than a few bad ideas myself, I love and appreciate the title of the collection. How did it all come t …

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Rebecca Rosenblum: Good Books for Hard Times

Rebecca Rosenbaum's debut novel, So Much Love, is a stunner, and it's recently been nominated for the 2017 Amazon First Novel Award. And while it's a heavy book, in her list with us Rosenblum shares the books that helped her along the way by providing a little levity. These are, as she tells us, good books for hard times.  

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I wrote a very serious, very dark book and it took six years. I read a lot of different things for different reasons during that long challenging period of writing—for research, for inspiration, for reminders of what I was striving for—but I read a lot for fun. These are some of the books in that last category. These are all fiction—my preferred reading matter—and though not all were originally intended for grownups, all can be enjoyed by us. These are all good books—the word funny isn’t a pejorative in my world—but those that take on serious issue do so with a lighter hand and some skip right over the serious issues and go straight for the silly. Apply as needed.

Anne of Green Gables, by L. M. Mongomery

I’ve neve …

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20 Life Stories Rocking Our World This Spring

This month we're curling up in our proverbial chairs with life stories, biography and memoir, stories that run the gamut and take you all over Canada and beyond. Here are twenty compelling life stories that are rocking our world this spring. 

*****

I Hear She's a Real Bitch, by Jen Agg

About the book: Toronto restaurateur Jen Agg, the woman behind the popular The Black Hoof, Cocktail Bar, Rhum Corner, and Agrikol restaurants, is known for her frank, crystal-sharp and often hilarious observations and ideas on the restaurant industry and the world around her. I Hear She's a Real Bitch, her first book, is caustic yet intimate, and wryly observant; an unforgettable glimpse into the life of one of the most interesting, smart, trail-blazing voices of this moment.

Why we're taking notice: More books about kick-ass, talented women, please. This book is getting so much buzz. 

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The Unfinished Dollhouse, by Michelle Alfano 

About the book: No mother is prepared for the moment when a child comes out to her as a person whose physical gender is out-of-keeping with his emoti …

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