Off the Page

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

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Book Cover Salma the Syrian Chef

Notes from a Children’s Librarian: Satisfying Endings

By Julie Booker

How do you create a sense of satisfaction in a story’s finale? The following books pull it off!

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49thShelf Summer Reads

Introducing the 49th Shelf Summer Books List: Part 2

By Kerry Clare

Our summer reads extravaganza continues with PART 2 of our Summer Books List, and once again, each and every title is up …

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Inclusive Learning, Diverse Books: Introducing Top Grade 2021

Inclusive Learning, Diverse Books: Introducing Top Grade 2021

By Spencer Miller

Welcome to the Association for Canadian publisher’s Top Grade: CanLit for the Classroom, a blog and preview video seri …

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Book Cover bread and water

Most Anticipated: Our Fall 2021 Nonfiction Preview

By 49thShelf Staff

New books about everything, including food, beauty, art, travel, singing, healing, grieving, shopping, aging, and so muc …

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Book Cover Unlocking

CanLit Yearning

By Amy LeBlanc

"At the heart of my novella and in each book on this CanLit list is a sense of desire or a yearning (for belonging, iden …

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The Chat with Rev. Dr. Cheri DiNovo

The Chat with Rev. Dr. Cheri DiNovo

By Trevor Corkum

This week we’re in conversation with political trailblazer Rev. Dr. Cheri DiNovo, whose memoir, The Queer Evangelist, …

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Book Cover The Prairie Chicken Dance Tour

Most Anticipated: Our 2021 Fall Fiction Preview

By 49th Shelf Staff

With new books by Miriam Toews, Dawn Dumont, Douglas Coupland, Marie-Renee Lavoie, Omar El Akkad, Zoe Whittall, Trudy Mo …

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Book Cover The Quiet is Loud

Speculative Fiction: Vast and Thrilling

By Samantha Garner

"As a reader and a lightly superstitious human, I can’t deny the pull of the unusual, the not-quite-real. I love books …

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Book Cover Travels in Cuba

Writing with Four Hands

By Marie-Louise Gay and David Homel

"That’s what the Travels series is all about: sending a resourceful, observant, unafraid (well, sometimes a little afr …

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2014 Literary Festival Guide

As of early morning last Saturday, summer is here, which means that Literary Festival Season will be arriving not long after. To ensure you make the most of it, we've once again compiled a handy guide to literary festivals across the country from here 'til November. Check out what's happening in your area, or at your vacation destination.

Or maybe even plan a trip around one of these stellar fests, so that new Canadian books and new Canadian places might be discovered together. 


In Nelson, BC, the Elephant Mountain Literary Festival runs July 10–13 with the theme of "Intersections: Geography, Genre, Genius." Scheduled presenters include Angie Abdou, Gail Bowen, Daryn Collier, Douglas Gibson, Donna Morrissey, and Eleanor Wachtel. The Lakefield Literary Festival kicks things off July 11–13 in Lakefield, ON, with featured authors including Charlotte Gray, Lawrence Hill, Maureen Jennings, Richard Wagamese, and Sheree Fitch. This year, Read by the Sea returns to River John, NS, for its 15th anniversary. Arrive at the Legion Gardens to spend the afternoon with writers including Guy Vanderhaeghe, Sharon Butala, Steven Galloway, and more! This year, the Saskatchewan Festival of Words runs from July 17–20 in Moose Jaw, SK, the lineup including acclaimed authors such as Beverly Brenna, Ted Barris, Cassie Stocks, Claire Cameron, Gail Bowen, Miriam Toews, Steven Galloway, Wayne Johnston, and Merilyn Simonds.

The Leacock Summer Festival takes place in Orillia, ON, July 21–27. Schedu …

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Dazzling Debuts, As Picked by Mark Medley, Jared Bland, Steven W. Beattie, and Kerry Clare

tagged : debut, fiction, 2014, novel

First novels, as a lot, are exciting phenomena because they carry so much of an author's energy and ambition. The best of them are electric, marked with a confidence and uniqueness that sets them apart from the rest.

In today's post, Mark Medley, who's just moved from the National Post to the Globe and Mail as books editor; Jared Bland, arts editor at the Globe; Steven W. Beattie, review editor at Quill & Quire and author of the blog, That Shakespearean Rag; and our own Kerry Clare, editor here and author of the popular lit blog, Pickle Me This, choose their favourite Canadian debuts so far of 2014.


Mark Medley's Picks



"Reading Nick Cutter's debut horror novel, The Troop, is just about the most fun I've had this year. Okay, I know Cutter is actually Giller Prize-nominated author Craig Davidson, but this is his first novel under the pen name. A violent yet surprisingly tender portrait of boyhood—forget Richard Linklater! I was also blown away by Emily Carroll's debut collection of illustrated stories, Through the Woods. These are old-school, slow- …

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Top Shelf: Gifts for Everyone on Your List

tagged : Top Shelf, 2014, awards

It is high time, given the holiday season almost upon us (aargh!), that we publish a new installment of Top Shelf, the series compiling great lists and posts on 49th Shelf. This one's all about ideas for the particular types of readers on your gift list.

Of course this can't be comprehensive, because it would take days to highlight the best lists on 49th Shelf in 2014. But here's our offer: if you're looking for another kind of book for a different kind of reader, tweet us @49thShelf and we'll help you find it!


For the chef, the 2014 Taste Canada shortlist, including books by Lynn Crawford, Nick Saul, Andrea Curtis, and Lucy Waverman.


For the science buff, nominees for the Lane Anderson Award (celebrating the best science writing in Canada today, both for adults and kids).


For the urban planner and architecture student, a list of gor …

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2014: Our Books of the Year

You're probably already railing about the proliferation of year-end best-of lists cluttering up your social media feeds of late, but we promise you that this one is a little different from the rest. How? First, because list-making is not just a seasonal thing at 49th Shelf—we're dedicated to the task and do it all year round; we're book list experts. And second, because we've created this list by selecting critically acclaimed titles we know that readers have adored.

And just a note: this list is only the beginning of the huge number of fantastic Canadian titles that were published in 2014. Please do explore our site to find out about so many others, not to mention the great books that were published last year, and the year before that, and the year before that, etc.

We promise that you will never ever run out of great things to read. 


Book Cover Between

Between, by Angie Adou

"The work of feminism is not done," notes Angie Adbou in her Q&A with us from September. "Of course our struggles in North America are not the same as the struggles of someone like Ligaya in the third world. Nonetheless, it is worth acknowledging that disparity exists here, too. I was pleased when Stacey May Fowles, in her Quill and Quire review, called Between a 'glaringly feminist narrative.'" 

Read our Q …

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Go Deeper with the Big Books of 2014

While the seemingly never-ending roll-out of longlists and shortlists throughout the fall literary season can be exhausting, these lists really are a fantastic way to discover new books, and they've never been more various than they are this year. Want to know more about the books and authors making waves this season? Just dive in to this great selection from 49th Shelf's archives.


Book Cover Waiting for the Man

Waiting for the Man, by Arjun Basu, nominated for the Scotiabank Giller Prize

In December, Arjun Basu shared with us his Lit Wish List, which included, "some poetry, some imperfection, and some Coupland." Watch the video here


Every Happy Family, by Dede Crane, nominated for a City of Victoria Book Award

"Once you are a mother, you are a mother for the rest of your life.  A perpetual contract, there is no such thing as time off. Your heart has been peeled back, your instinct turned on...." Read the rest of Crane's beautiful essay on motherhood, which we featured on the blog in June 2013.   


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The Randomizer

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