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

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Book Cover Best Canadian Poetry 2020

A Record of Literary History: Best Canadian Poetry 2020

By Marilyn Dumont

An excerpt from Marilyn Dumont's introduction to BEST CANADIAN POETRY 2020.

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Book Cover Book of Donair

The Donair: Canada's Official Food?

By Lindsay Wickstrom

Excerpt from BOOK OF DONAIR explores how a bitter rivalry between Halifax and Edmonton helped propel the donair to be de …

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Book Cover My Ocean is Blue

Notes From a Children's Librarian: Questions, Questions

By Julie Booker

Great picture books that engage with questions and encourage readers to think about answers.

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Book Cover Gutter Child

Most Anticipated: Our 2021 Spring Fiction Preview

By 49thShelf Staff

Exciting debuts, and new releases by Christy Ann Conlin, Pasha Malla, Eva Stachniak, Jael Richardson, and more.

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Book Cover Better Luck Next Time

Patriarchy Lies: Women Are Funny

By Kate Hilton

A funny woman reading list by the author of new novel Better Luck Next Time.

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 The Chat with Eve Lazarus

The Chat with Eve Lazarus

By Trevor Corkum

Eve Lazarus has drawn back the curtain on some of Vancouver’s secret places. Vancouver Exposed: Searching for the City …

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Canadian Books of the Year: Chosen by Educators and Librarians

Canadian Books of the Year: Chosen by Educators and Librarians

By 49th Teachers

We asked educators and librarians to share their favourite Canadian books of 2020.

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Photo of two books tucked into a  knitted cozy against a backdrop of a minimalist tree bedecked with white lights.

Happy Holidays!

By Kerry Clare

This year, books were the one thing we could count on.

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The Chat with David Bateman

The Chat with David Bateman

By Trevor Corkum

Acclaimed writer David Bateman has just released his fabulous debut novel, DR SAD (University of Calgary Press). It foll …

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Christmas Tree Ornament of a Pile of Books

Have you Entered Our Books of the Year Giveaway Yet?

By Kerry Clare

All the titles on our 2020 Fiction: Books of the Year list are up for giveaway! Don't miss your chance to win.

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A Record of Literary History: Best Canadian Poetry 2020

Best Canadian Poetry 2020 is out now, featuring work by poets including Amber Dawn, Billy-Ray Belcourt, Tim Bowling, Ivan Coyote, Louise Bernice Halfe–Sky Dancer, Tanis MacDonald, Nyla Matuk, Jason Purcell, Armand Garnet Ruffo, Robyn Sarah, Kevin Spenst, John Elizabeth Stintzi, and more.

Guest Editor Marilyn Dumont writes about her vision for the anthology in her introduction to the book, which we're pleased to excerpt here today. 

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Before taking on the task of guest-editing Best Canadian Poetry 2020, I had no idea how poems were identified for such an anthology, despite habitually acquiring collections on an annual basis myself. I avidly purchased anthologies throughout the years, and whether I agreed with the anthol­ogist on their yearly selection of poems or not, I always found anthologies instructive because of their capacity to curate a collection of poems that have spoken to a particular poet’s aes­thetic at a specific time in the literary history of a country. If I consider the number of volumes in my bookshelf with the word “best” in the title, there seems to be no end of the desire to isolate what warrants merit among the genres.

Anthologists are not search engines generating a reposi­tory of merit in collections, but instead are human bein …

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The Donair: Canada's Official Food?

In Book of Donair: Everything You Wanted to Know About the Halifax Street Food that Became Canada's Favourite Kebab, Lindsay Wickstrom explores the history of the donair, and the people who shaped this Halifax-born kebab into the iconic Canadian street food it has become. In this excerpt, she shares how a bitter rivalry between Halifax and Edmonton helped propel the donair to be declared the official food of Halifax.

Bonus: want to win a copy of Book of Donair? We've got it up for giveaway this week.

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“Edmonton is the true donair champion, the true mecca of donairs,” Omar Mouallem said, boldly concluding his presentation at Edmonton’s PechaKucha Night 2014. A PechaKucha is a storytelling art, originating in Japan, where 20 slides are presented with 20 seconds of commentary each. It’s an efficient, creative and personal way for people to share their work with the community.

Omar’s work was journalism. He went on to write an in-depth piece for the Walrus about the history of the donair in Alberta. That year he also wrote donair articles for Maclean’s and Swerve Magazine. In 2017, he wrote a piece for Canadian Geographic’s Canada 150 special issue, which officially made the donair one of CanGeo’s “150 icons of Canada.” A local paper had deemed …

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Notes From a Children's Librarian: Questions, Questions

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

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In all areas of the language curriculum, students wrestle with questions—both direct and indirect. As readers, writers, speakers, listeners and viewers, questions help us make connections and facilitate higher level thinking. Most of these picture books use direct questions.

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Du Iz Tak? by Carson Ellis, is told entirely through dialogue in a made-up language. A lone plant sprout attracts the attention of surrounding bugs. “Du iz tak?” one character asks. “Ma nazoot,” the other responds. (Roughly translated: “What is that?” “I don’t know.”) The bugs wake up their friend Icky, who has a ribble (ladder) to investigate the growing plant, but a voobeck (spider) appears. A bird eats the spider, but the excitement doesn’t disturb the thriving gladdenboot (flower). Seasons change, the gladdenboot dies, snow comes and the whole cycle begins again, with a ta ta (sprout) in the spring. This one begs to be read aloud with multiple voices and varied intonation—a fun way to tackle the oral language curriculum, whilst discussing what’s happening. (Kindergarten to Grade 6)

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Most Anticipated: Our 2021 Spring Fiction Preview

Our Spring Preview begins with the fiction you're going to be falling in love with in 2021.

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Caught between cultures and identities, immigrant families from a Bengali neighbourhood in Toronto strive to navigate their home, relationships, and happiness in Silmy Abdullah’s debut, Home of the Floating Lily (June). Pyromaniacs, vigilantes, mysterious phenomena, prehistoric beasts, cryptid species, grave robbers and ghosts... the stories of Nathan Adler's Ghost Lake (December) feature a cast of interrelated characters and their brushes with the supernatural, creatures of Ojibwe cosmology, the Spirit World, and with monsters, both human and otherwise. Four writers and four different perspectives on the problematic notion of purity in Disintegration in Four Parts (June), a collection of novellas by Jean-Marc Ah-Sen, Emily Anglin, Devon Code, and Lee Henderson. And Sergeant Roxanne Calloway of the RCMP finds herself investigating the death of the Artistic Director of a prairie theatre company about to put on Macbeth (of course!) in And Then is Heart No More (April), by Raye Anderson.

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Patriarchy Lies: Women Are Funny

Book Cover Better Luck Next Time

Kate Hilton's latest novel is Better Luck Next Time, a story that puts the comedy in "divorce comedy" and of which Marissa Stapley writes, "Kate Hilton’s writing reminds me of Nora Ephron‘s work: it’s laugh-out-loud funny, with startling observations about life, love, family and reinvention at any age."

**Bonus: Better Luck Next Time is one of the fantastic titles we have up for giveaway RIGHT NOW.**

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Patriarchy tells so many lies that it’s hardly a sport to single one of them out for special attention. Let me do it anyway: Women are funny. And when they set their minds to writing comedy—especially about the intricate web of relationships that we call a family—they do it very well. (Perhaps it is the feminist undercurrent in women’s comedy that the patriarchy finds unfunny? Just a thought.) Today we celebrate the women of Canadian humour writing, and their perfectly dysfunctional families.

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Ayesha at Last, by Uzma Jalaluddin

Dysfunctional Family: Ayesha Shamsi is an aspiring poet and substitute teacher who lives with her widowed mother, he …

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