Off the Page

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

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Notes from a Children's Librarian: Books on Jewish Heritage

By Julie Booker

Compelling stories showcasing Jewish Heritage to be enjoyed by readers of all ages.

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The Chat with GGs Literature Award Winner Madhur Anand

The Chat with GGs Literature Award Winner Madhur Anand

By Trevor Corkum

Check out our conversation with Madhur Anand, whose brilliant experimental memoir This Red Line Goes Straight to Your He …

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Me and Bridget Jones (20 Years Later)

Me and Bridget Jones (20 Years Later)

By Erika Thorkelson

Erika Thorkelson's "Me and Bridget Jones (20 Years Later)" is one of the essays in Midlife, a new essay collection explo …

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The Chat with GGs Literature Award Winner Michelle Good

The Chat with GGs Literature Award Winner Michelle Good

By Trevor Corkum

Today we are pleased to kick off our special coverage of the 2020 Governor General's Award winners (English-language) wi …

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The World Up Close

By Joanne Epp

A recommended reading list by author of new book CATTAIL SKYLINE on paying close attention to the small and particular.

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The Keepers on My Bookshelf

By LS Stone

Depth and humour are themes in this great recommended reading list by the author of the new middle grade novel What's in …

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How Does a Woman Become a Writer?

By Linda Leith

"The writers who interest me most, always, are women who write about themselves in ways that a male writer never could." …

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11 Essay Collections to Revisit Now

By Susan Olding

"The bestselling novel of a decade ago will sometimes seem stale or irrelevant today, but that’s rarely true of an ess …

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The Chat Special Coverage: Griffin Poetry Prize Roundtable 2021

The Chat Special Coverage: Griffin Poetry Prize Roundtable 2021

By Trevor Corkum

We’re so pleased to be partnering once again with our friends at the Griffin Poetry Prize to profile this year’s thr …

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Poetry Feels Like Memory to Me

By Ash Winters

"Something of the intensity of feeling, sparseness of narrative and intricacy of images in poetry feels like memory itse …

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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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The Recommend: September 2017

Research shows that most of the books we read are the result of one thing: someone we know, trust, and/or admire tells us it's great. That's why we run this series, The Recommend, where writers, reviewers, bloggers, and others tell us about a book they'd recommend to a good friend ... and why.

This month we're pleased to present the picks of Greg Rhyno (To Me You Seem Giant), Pamela Mordecai (Red Jacket), Alix Hawley (All True Not a Lie In It), and Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer (All the Broken Things).

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Greg Rhyno recommends Andrew Hood's The Cloaca

Andrew Hood has written a pile of great stuff including book reviews, essays, and a biography on Guelph lo-fi legend Jim Guthrie. But for my money, Hood’s primary talent lies within his ability to birth a killer short story.  His second collection of these slimy diamonds is The Cloaca, appropriately named after the orifice where everything bad comes out of a bird. The stories in this book are messy, cathartic, and hilarious.   

The narrator in “Manning” spars with a deformed man-child over a rookie baseball card. In “Beginners,” a woman’s martial arts dreams are dashed when her sensei keeps looking down her karategi. The smell of a used diaper in “I’m Sorry and Thank You” reminds the main character of things he …

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Shelf Talkers: Thanksgiving 2017 Edition

Gratitude.

It seems like such a small thing, doesn’t it? Aren’t most of taught, from our earliest days, to say thank you? To be grateful?

It’s not that easy, though. And it’s more important than we had ever imagined.

As we gather, this week, for a national day of gratitude, tucking into our turkey (or turkey substitute), it’s worth noting that not only have the vast majority of spiritual and religious traditions long endorsed the significant benefits of gratitude, but Forbes magazine, of all places, has also come aboard, recognizing seven scientifically proven benefits of gratitude, including health benefits, better sleep, and greater mental strength.

And if Forbes has been writing about it, there must be something to it, right?

If you don’t already have a practice for gratitude, why don’t you try this with me: this weekend, before you dig in, take a moment to really experience gratitude, to give thanks (even silently) for the good things in your life.

One thing that I’m thankful for (and I’m sure I’ve said it before), is that every month I get to spend some virtual time with some of Canada’s finest independent booksellers. I spent more than two decades of my life on the weary side of retail, and this column allows me to keep in touch with a part of my life I miss more than I was expecting to.

Plus, they always recommend such great books.

This month I asked, in a fairly general way, for our booksellers to talk about a book or author they were grateful for. Here …

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Shelf Talkers: 2017's Must-Reads

Reading through a year’s worth of Shelf Talkers columns, I am struck by a couple of details that likely have not slipped your attention: the quality of the books chosen by our panelists, and the eclectic nature of those choices.

Every month, our esteemed independent booksellers share their picks for not just the best books they have been reading, but those books which they feel merit special attention. Books that aren’t just good, but are distinct in some way, powerful enough to merit an enthusiastic response.

You’ve likely experienced this directly, in-person, during a visit to an independent bookstore: the bookseller leading you through the aisles, all-but-tugging you to a special shelf, or a slot on a table, picking up a book and pressing it into your hands, saying, almost breathlessly, “You must read this!”

For this year-end column, we’ve combed through the dozens of recommendations, a year of reading, to create a double-handful of special books, a stack of a dozen or so books to fill your carry-bag, to fill your winter nights with sheer reading pleasure.

Simply put, you must read these.

We’ll be back in January to begin another year of books, another year of discoveries.

Until then, though, we wish you warm nights, full bellies, and the happiest of reading.

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lastneanderthal

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The Chat with Carleigh Baker

Carleigh Baker - cr Callan Field

TREVOR CORKUM cropped

Next up on The Chat, we speak to Carleigh Baker, author of the sensational short story collection Bad Endings, a finalist for the 2017 Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize.

Of the collection, the Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize jury said, “In Bad Endings, Carleigh Baker has created a skillfully woven tapestry of stories, centred on strong, contemporary female characters battling for agency over their own lives .… These stories are not about happy endings—they are about powerful endings, and we found them nothing short of electrifying.”

Carleigh Baker is a Cree-Métis/Icelandic writer. She was born and raised on the traditional, ancestral, unceded territory of the Stó:lō people. Her first collection of stories, Bad Endings, won the City of Vancouver Book Award in 2017 and is a finalist for the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize. She won the Lush Triumphant award for short fiction in 2012, and her work has also appeared in Best Canadian Essays, and The Journey Prize Anthology. She writes book reviews for The Globe and Mail, The Literary Revi …

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