Off the Page

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

Latest Blog Posts
 The Chat with GG's Literature Award Winners The Fan Brothers

The Chat with GG's Literature Award Winners The Fan Brothers

By Trevor Corkum

We continue our special coverage of this year’s Governor General's Literature Award winners in conversation with the a …

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Book Cover Oy Feh So

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 GG's Literature Award Winner Madhur Anand

The Chat with GG's 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 GG's Literature Award Winner Michelle Good

The Chat with GG's 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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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.

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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 …

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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." …

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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 …

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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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Top Shelf Ep. 1: Canadian Books You Need to Read

One of the most rewarding things we do at 49th Shelf is make themed lists—as well as commission them from authors and highlight the best of those compiled by members.

Too often, though, we find that incredible lists—and blog posts—get buried in the web’s relentless tendency to favour the new over the old. So starting today, we are launching a new bimonthly series (erm, that’s twice a month in this case) called Top Shelf that will shine a spotlight on great 49th Shelf lists and posts … newer and older. Each Top Shelf post will include three to five awesome lists and/or blog posts.

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Backlist, Baby: This is the perfect pick to roll out Top Shelf because it immediately reveals the danger of getting fixated on new releases. It’s a list of Canadian books published prior to 2013 that the 49th Shelf community created, and it includes such stunners as Bronwen Wallace’s People You’d Trust Your Life To, Isabel Huggan’s Belonging, and Alistair MacLeod’s The Lost Salt Gift of Blood (which to our recollection, has never once been left off a serious “best of” list).

 

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Shelf Talkers: April 2016

With any luck (and owing entirely to the incredible effort put in by the organizers), the end of April will become known as well for books as it is for being the early days of spring. Authors for Indies, now in its second year, draws attention to Canada’s independent booksellers with the best of Canada’s writers working shifts on the country’s independent sales floors, meeting customers and making recommendations. It’s a beautiful synergy, a living representation of the ecosystem that underlies Canada’s book trade.

If I had my way, it would be a national holiday.

Canada’s independent booksellers aren’t just retailers; they’re cultural resources, the face of our rich literary heritage. For Canada’s indies, it’s less a job than it is a calling: the hours are long, the financial rewards limited, the stress sometimes overwhelming. And yet, every day of the year, they’re there, critical parts of their communities, literally spreading the word.

When this column started, two years ago, our intent was to give voice to those booksellers, a platform for them to do what they do best: to recommend books they love to readers who will love them. And don’t they do a fine job?

Happy Authors for Indies Day, everyone. And please join me in raising a glass for our independent booksellers, every day.

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The Chat With 2016 Giller Prize Finalist Mona Awad

Next up in our special 2016 Giller Prize coverage, which is generously sponsored by Publishing@SFU, is our conversation with finalist Mona Awad. She’s the author of the acclaimed debut novel 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl.

The Globe and Mail says the book is “beautifully told, with a profoundly sensitive understanding of the subject matter.” The Literary Review of Canada, meanwhile, hails Awad’s debut as “a brilliant and disturbing first novel.”

Mona Awad was born in Montreal and received her MFA in fiction from Brown University. Her work has appeared in McSweeney’s, The Walrus, Joyland, Post Road, St. Petersburg Review, and elsewhere. She is currently pursuing a PhD in creative writing and English literature at the University of Denver.

TheChat-Giller-2016

 

THE CHAT WITH MONA AWAD

How did 13 Ways of Looking At a Fat Girl find life as a book?

Awad, Mona

I first started with the image of a young woman in a dressing room staring at a piece of clothing she already knew wouldn’t fit while her mother and a saleswoman waited outside. She actually sort of appeared to me duri …

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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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On Our Radar

"On Our Radar" is a monthly 49th Shelf series featuring books with buzz worth sharing. We bring you links to features and reviews about great new books in a multitude of genres from all around the Internet and elsewhere. 

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Book Cover White Elephant

White Elephant, by Catherine Cooper

Reviewed by Sarah Murdoch in The Toronto Star

Dr. Richard Berringer has long dreamed of bringing his medical skills to the poor of Africa. So now he, his sick and unhappy wife, Ann, and their difficult 13-year-old son, Tor, have pulled up stakes in Nova Scotia and settled in Sierra Leone, on the cusp of civil war... This self-assured debut novel, with its difficult characters operating at cross-purposes, can be hard to read. Yet it is so deftly executed that it’s impossible to turn away.

Read the review here

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Book Cover Tell

Tell, by Soraya Peerbaye

Winner of the Trillium Book Award for Poetry and shortlisted for the 2016 Griffin Prize for Poetry:

From the Griffin Judges' citation: The true miracle of Tell is not merely its choice to sing of such things, but its ability to sing in such a way as to urge the rea …

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