Off the Page

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

Latest Blog Posts
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 …

read more >
Book Cover Cattail Skyline

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.

read more >
Book Cover What's In It For Me

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 …

read more >
Book Cover the Girl from Dream City

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." …

read more >
Book Cover Big Reader

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 …

read more >
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 …

read more >
Book Cover Run Riot

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 …

read more >
Book Cover Lost Immunity

Tackling the Big Themes

By Daniel Kalla

"I am drawn to fiction writers who highlight vital social and scientific themes through their novels. And fortunately, t …

read more >
Book Cover The List of Last Chances

On the Road Again: Literary Road Trips

By Christina Myers

"I’m still fascinated by the possibilities that road trips present and perpetually curious about the unique and divers …

read more >
Book Cover Maggie's Chopsticks

Note From a Children's Librarian: Stories for Asian Heritage Month

By Julie Booker

Great picture books celebrating Asian heritage.

read more >

On Kerry Clare's Mat Leave

kerryclare

Kerry Clare, our tireless, brilliant, and somehow both sweet and trenchant editor is taking a leave from 49th Shelf next week … FOR THE SUMMER. Just for the summer, thanks to god. She’s having a baby. Baby #2, a sister for Harriet. We are very excited for her, and thought the perfect gesture with which to send her away would be to republish a little something she wrote a few years back about her initial adjustment to motherhood.

The piece is called “Love is a Let-Down,” published in the Fall 2010 issue of The New Quarterly, and Kerry has declined to let us post it here. “49th Shelf is not about me or my writing!” she said. To which we said, “Fine. Be like that, all upstanding and decent and non-whorish.”

But. I can write a little about my recollection of reading “Love is a Let-Down.” Ha!

When I first came across “Love is a Let-Down,” I was having one of those days as a mother (at the time, of just one thrilling but challenging toddler) when I could not do one thing right. I was feeling fuzzy-minded about work and feeble according to every checklist I had yet consulted about what constitutes good parenting. Thank goodness time, experience, and candid conversation with other parents has given me more confidence (and humour), but then … I felt …

Continue reading >

How Do We Read When Words Fail Us?

Neon Sign that says BOOKS

Last week, I finally finished reading a book.

And that this is even remarkable speaks volumes about the strange times we're all navigating right now. Because usually I finish books in the way that most people finish wearing pants at the end of the day, or in the way that one might finish eating their lunch. Usually it's easy, automatic, even reflexive. I read therefore I am, but last week I didn't, and I wasn't, scrolling social media feeds and news blogs instead: refresh, refresh. When will there be good news?

Last week, it seemed like words were failing on all fronts, in print, online, and especially in my head. As I was reading every bit of journalism I could get my hands on in search of answers, in search of certainty, for all the chaos to coalesce into something that made sense, but there was nothing, only noise, and fear, and questions. What is going to happen next?

And I couldn't read. Which didn't make sense when I had all the time in the world, and all the books at my fingertips, a to-be-read pile that was taller than my child, and access to e-books for days. I'd even had two new releases delivered from my local indie bookshop straight to my front door, which should have been the best thing that had ever happened to me, but the books sat unopened on a chair …

Continue reading >

Happy Holidays!

Photo of two books in a knitted cozy against the backdrop of a minimalist illuminated tree

If you're ever looking for something extra to feel a bit sad about, I recommend searching back through our archives to find the Spring Literary Festival Guide I posted in February with every expectation that 2020 was going to proceed as planned.

And were there ever plans! For these festivals, and for book launches, and book clubs, and bookstore events, and exciting new releases, and all the usual things that make up a literary year. But by now, we all know what happened next...

We know too, however, the way that so many people rose to the occasion, from booksellers working overtime and learning a whole new trade (online sales! delivery!) to get books into the hands of readers, to festivals and events moving to virtual, and authors designing innovative ways to launch their books, and publishers putting out all the stops to keep those 2020 books coming.

And are we ever glad they did, because in a year of such turmoil, books were one thing we could count on.

Personally, it was the opportunity to continue to promote and celebrate books and authors (and their readers!) here at 49th Shelf that gave me such a sustaining sense of purpose back in the spring—and so I have you all to thank for that. I'd also like to thank Kiley Turner and Craig Riggs, Kate Edwards and the ACP …

Continue reading >

The Recommend: May 2016

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 readers, writers, reviewers, bloggers, and others tell us about a book they'd recommend to a good friend ... and why.

This week we're pleased to present the picks of authors Tricia Dower (Becoming Lin); Nadia Bozak (Thirteen Shells); Teva Harrison (In-Between Days); and author, editor, and blogger Kerry Clare (The M Word: Conversations About Motherhood).

***

Tricia Dower recommends For Your Own Good, by Leah Horlick

I bought this poetic memoir because of the cover, featuring a gorgeous, creepy illustration by Thomas Shahan. It turns out to foreshadow the dark material within. I’m not an expert on poetry. I can’t tell you how a poem does what it does. I can only tell you the effect it has on me. Horlick’s collection of forty-nine poems grabbed me by the gut. Five poems in, I was pressing my lips together, afraid for the narrator, tense with foreboding. For Your Own Good unveils an account of abuse both devastating and redemptive. I almost hate to tell you that because part of the power for me in this collection was discovering the truth of it. Within the queer community, the word is this is an impor …

Continue reading >

Shelf Talkers: The Best New Book I've Read

Bookstores can be daunting experiences.

Walking into a good bookstore can be almost overwhelming: all these books! Where does one begin?

That’s where the bookseller comes in. A good bookseller can guide a reader through the impossibilities of selection in search of that perfect read. They know the sections intimately; after all, they’re responsible for every one of those spines being on the shelf. They’re the ones who spend hours every week selecting books, conscientiously and deliberately building a collection which they know will appeal to the readers in their communities. They’re responsible for keeping on-hand books they love, knowing that they will be able to match them with the perfect reader.

But what of new books? What of debut authors? What of the great unknown? How does a reader sift through the deluge of new titles being published every week?

This is where booksellers truly shine, spending the hours they’re not in the store reading ahead, perusing Advance Reading Copies and galleys, open to that electrical charge one feels when finding the next great book.

For this month’s Shelf Talkers column, we’ve set our panel of erstwhile indie booksellers a single question: what’s the best new book you’ve read? All of these recommendations are hot off the presses (one of them, in fact, is still on the presses, and won’t be on the shelf until next month!). These are the cream of this year’s crop, and they all come with the Shelf Talkers’ seal of approval.

*** …

Continue reading >

The Randomizer

Load New Book >
X
Contacting facebook
Please wait...