Off the Page

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

Latest Blog Posts
The Chat with Richard Van Camp

The Chat with Richard Van Camp

By Trevor Corkum

Author Richard Van Camp is a celebrated and beloved storyteller who has worked across many genres. His latest offering, …

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Book Cover In Praise of Retreat

Why We All Need Breathing Space

By Kirsteen MacLeod

"Retreat is an adventure, and it involves uncertainty. Whether we go to the quiet woods to rest or make art, walk a pilg …

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Book Cover What the Kite Saw

What the Kite Saw: Stories of Children and Crisis

By Anne Laurel Carter

"Children have their own unique ways of facing a crisis. Yes, they need protecting, but they are also resilient. They ha …

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Shelf Talkers: Spring 2021

Shelf Talkers: Spring 2021

By Robert J. Wiersema

One of the best pieces of news in an otherwise dark year was the word that, despite the growth of online giants during t …

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Book Cover The Shadow Life

My Drifter Reading List

By Jen Sookfong Lee

A poetry list by the author of new book The Shadow List.

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Book Cover Fuse

Persian-Canadian Writers You've Got to Read

By Hollay Ghadery

So, where were all the Persian Canadian writers? It turns out, here all along, but not as represented as one might hope; …

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Tough Like Mum: An Essential Picture Book for Kids *and* Adults

Tough Like Mum: An Essential Picture Book for Kids *and* Adults

By Geoffrey Ruggero

Picture books are often written with young children as their intended audience. In Tough Like Mum, Lana Button provides …

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Book Cover We Jane

Aimee Wall on The Great Canadian Abortion Novel

By Kerry Clare

"I didn’t want the plot to turn on an abortion or the decision to have one. Any conflict or tension is rooted elsewher …

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Book Cover Because the Sun

Poetry That's Going to Grab You

By 49thShelf Staff

Great books to read before for National Poetry Month is out.

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The Chat with Christopher DiRaddo

The Chat with Christopher DiRaddo

By Trevor Corkum

Christopher DiRaddo’s sophomore novel, The Family Way, is a dynamic and rich exploration of queer family, parenthood, …

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Ondaatje’s In the Skin of a Lion: The First Bookmark

intheskin

Miranda Hill is the founder of Project Bookmark Canada, a beautiful initiative that—literally—joins Canadian literature with our landscape. Across the country, Project Bookmark has been creating plaques adorned with an excerpt from a Canadian writer’s novel, story or poem, and placing them in the exact physical spot where it happened. The current count is 12 Bookmarks (see the list of them here) and the hope is to keep that number growing. Right now Miranda’s got a fundraising campaign on to ensure this happens—the Page Turner campaign—where some of our finest authors and poets are explaining why Project Bookmark is so incredible and necessary.

On 49th Shelf today, Miranda recalls the experience of reading one of the books that inspired her to create Project Bookmark in the first place—as well as the reactions of those who have now come upon the In the Skin of a Lion Bookmark.

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Michael Ondaatje’s In the Skin of a Lion takes Toronto, a place that is familiar to many of us, and makes it mythic. It’s a stellar example of the writer as conjurer. No scene shows off this trick better than the one in which the nun falls from the Prince Edward Viaduct (which today we know informally as the Bloor Street viaduct) during its construction. The book tells us …

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Shelf Talkers: January 2015

It’s a brand new year which means that booksellers across this fine nation are picking themselves up and dusting themselves off after the blur and chaos of December. They’re both looking back and looking ahead, giving a sense and perspective to the year and the books just past, and gazing hopefully, always hopefully, at the year and books just ahead.

Here are five of our finest booksellers, ready again to help you fill your shelves with the best books this country—and its bookstores—have to offer.

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The Bookseller: Mary-Ann Yazedjian, Book Warehouse Main Street (Vancouver, BC)

The Pick: Anatomy of a Girl Gang, by Ashley Little

"This is a dark and gritty story of a girl gang in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver. It is told from five points of view, and Little has managed to give each character a unique voice. This is the perfect book for girls aged 15 and older who are tired of reading teen fluff books and want to read something real and important."

 

The Bookseller:  Heather Kuipers, Ella Minnow Children’s Bookstore (Toronto, Ontario)

The Pick …

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Shelf Talkers Special Edition: Authors for Indies

Oh, my, what a month! April marks the first anniversary of this column, which offers monthly recommendations from independent booksellers across the country—the books you need to read, from people who know reading best.

(Waiting a moment, looking around ... Where’s the balloon drop?)

To celebrate, we have something even better than a balloon drop. We have an entire national movement! This month we have an extra-special, jumbo-sized edition of Shelf Talkers, wherein some of Canada’s finest authors weigh in with their recommendations. We’re not only celebrating the anniversary of this column, we’re pitching in and helping out with the Authors for Indies program.

On May 2, under the auspices of the Authors for Indies program, writers from across the country will be serving as volunteer booksellers at their local independent bookstore, helping out customers with their picks, throwing their support behind Canada’s independent booksellers.

In this month’s column, we’ve asked some of those volunteer, one-day booksellers for their picks, a sneak preview of what you can expect next month.

May 2: Mark that date on your calendar, and make a point of visiting your favourite authors at your favourite indie.

Until then, enjoy these picks, and thank you for reading this year. We’re just getting started.

 

*****

 

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The Recommend: April 2018

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 Shawna Lemay (The Flower Can Always Be Changing), Andrew Battershill (Marry, Bang, Kill), Claudia Dey (Heartbreaker), Elinor Florence (Wildwood), and Sarah Henstra (The Red Word).

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Shawna Lemay picks Nicole Brossard’s Yesterday, at the Hotel Clarendon

It’s difficult to say precisely how well known an author is but it seems fair to say that Nicole Brossard should be much more appreciated. Yesterday, at the Hotel Clarendon is virtuosic, a work of art, in the way that Virginia Woolf’s books are art. Two women meet at a hotel bar every night and talk. One of the women is trying to finish her novel, and the other catalogues artefacts at a museum. They enter into a dialogue that is both shifting and solid, detached and intensely engaged. One of the characters asks, “What is the value of a question in a dialogue? How important are the answers?”

The shape and the construction of the book is something Woolf surely would have ap …

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