Off the Page

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

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Book Cover Gaptoothed

Filling the Gaps, Minding the Gaps: the Unconventional (Mostly) Small Town Girls of CanLit

By Robin Durnford

An amazing recommended reading list by Robin Durnford, whose new poetry collection is Gaptoothed.

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Book Cover Kid Sterling

Kid Sterling: Books on Jazz and Justice

By Christine Welldon

Christine Welldon introduces her debut novel, Kid Sterling, and she marks its release with a list of inspiring books tha …

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book cover eat salt/gaze at the ocean

Most Anticipated: Our 2020 Fall Poetry Preview

By 49th Shelf Staff

Our Fall Preview continues with poetry, an intriguing selection of debuts, collected works, and excellent new releases.

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Shelf Talkers: Books for Summer 2020

Shelf Talkers: Books for Summer 2020

By Robert J Wiersema

Here are our booksellers’ picks for your endless summer days. And if you exhaust this list, remember, more recommendat …

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The Chat with Madhur Anand

The Chat with Madhur Anand

By Trevor Corkum

Our first conversation this month is with writer Madhur Anand, whose brilliant experimental memoir This Red Line Goes St …

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Awesome August Giveaway

Awesome August Giveaway

By Kiley Turner

We hope you've had some wonderful summer escapes by now – we all deserve some magic this season! Today, we're highligh …

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Book Cover Blue Sky Kingdom

Let's Get Out of This Town: Literary Travel

By Kerry Clare

Journey through place and time with this collection of new and forthcoming travel books, spotlighting some of the best t …

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Book Cover Bird's Eye View

Ann Eriksson Launches BIRD'S EYE VIEW

By Kerry Care

"Anyone, young or old, who wants to learn more about the birds that live in their neighbourhood or on the other side of …

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The Chat with John Elizabeth Stintzi

The Chat with John Elizabeth Stintzi

By Trevor Corkum

Writer John Elizabeth Stinzi has the distinction of publishing two fabulous debuts a week apart this past spring. On The …

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Robert Bateman

Notes from a Children's Librarian: Bird Books

By Julie Booker

A flock of tales to get young readers into birding.

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Shelf Talkers: This Is a Read Until 3 am Book and More

Out here on Vancouver Island, the first few days of spring have been largely grey, with intermittent periods of dismal. I mention this not to complain (we had a wonderfully warm and sunny run in the late winter) nor because these conditions are unusual (spring rarely arrives with a clichéd fanfare), but as a matter of contrast. Despite the grizzled pallor of the change of season, there are bright flashes of colour: the reds and purples of tulips, the shocking green of a city park lawn, the pink of cherry blossoms. There are signs on the sides of city buses, seeking daffodil pickers.

Yes, spring has returned.

It may not feel like it quite yet, but trust me, it’s here.

You can tell from the parka clad crowds on Toronto patios, and the look of guarded optimism as the last winter storm strikes the east coast (please, the expressions seem to say, let this be the last one).

You can taste the change in the air.

Canada’s dedicated independent booksellers are feeling it too. This is a season of renewal, of new projects, and, of course, of new books.
Here are a few of their current favourites, some of them on the shelves already, and a couple to look forward to in the next few weeks, like buds set to burst into beauty.

Ah, spring. How wonderful.

The Bookseller: Barb Pratt of Blue Heron Books (Uxbridge, ON)

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The Chat with Kate Harris

Kate Harris


A few years ago, Kate Harris hopped on a bike to travel the Silk Road with a friend, following the journey of Marco Polo. Her reflections on the journey and the life lessons she learned along the way are documented in Lands of Lost Borders, a memoir.

Pico Iyer famously blurbed the book, saying "Kate Harris packs more exuberant spirit, intrepid charm, wit, poetry and beauty into her every paragraph than most of us can manage in a lifetime.” In a starred review, Kirkus Reviews calls it “exemplary travel writing: inspiring, moving, heartfelt, and often breathtaking.”

Kate Harris is a writer and adventurer with a knack for getting lost. Named one of Canada's top modern-day explorers, her award-winning nature and travel writing has featured in The Walrus, Canadian Geographic Travel, Sidetracked and The Georgia Review, and cited in Best American Essays and Best American Travel Writing. She has degrees in science from MIT and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and in the history of science from Oxford, where she studied as a Rhodes schol …

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Shelf Talkers: Whispering Words to Hasten Spring's Arrival

I don’t want to jinx anything, but it needs to be said: Happy Spring!

I’m knocking wood, just to be safe.

This is, I think you’ll agree, an unusual spring. Usually, the vernal equinox signals a period of regrowth, of blossoming, of fresh green in the trees and t-shirts worn outside, without a parka!

This year, though, spring is a bit different. Across the country, it’s been greeted with whispered questions: Can it be? Is the long winter of our discontent finally over?

Spring has limped late even into Victoria. To the cheer of our social media friends, we had snow in March. Snow. In Victoria. In March.

That sort of thing will mess with the cherry blossoms.

But let’s, for the sake of argument, embrace the season, the spirit of renewal.

Here in the Shelf Talkers column, we have a round-up of books for your spring reading pleasure. And, in keeping with the theme, we have a couple of new booksellers aboard, offering their choices from Peterborough and the Tsleil-Waututh, Sḵwx̱wú7mesh and Musqueam territories.

We have fiction and non-fiction, YA and adult books, even a little something for poetry month.

You might say we’re blossoming (so long as you knock wood while you say it).

So let’s all get out there and enjoy the spring, maybe hitting up an independent bookstore while you’re out.

But you might want to wear a hoodie; there’s no reason to go all crazy.


The Bookseller: Michelle Berry, Hunter Street Books (Peterborough, ON)

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