Off the Page

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

Latest Blog Posts
Book Cover her Turn

Her Turn: A Conversation With Katherine Ashenburg

By Kerry Clare

"I think as I wrote Her Turn I wanted to combine Shields’ dry wit and a certain ironic distance from her characters wi …

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Book Cover Salma the Syrian Chef

Notes from a Children’s Librarian: Satisfying Endings

By Julie Booker

How do you create a sense of satisfaction in a story’s finale? The following books pull it off!

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49thShelf Summer Reads

Introducing the 49th Shelf Summer Books List: Part 2

By Kerry Clare

Our summer reads extravaganza continues with PART 2 of our Summer Books List, and once again, each and every title is up …

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Inclusive Learning, Diverse Books: Introducing Top Grade 2021

Inclusive Learning, Diverse Books: Introducing Top Grade 2021

By Spencer Miller

Welcome to the Association for Canadian publisher’s Top Grade: CanLit for the Classroom, a blog and preview video seri …

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Book Cover bread and water

Most Anticipated: Our Fall 2021 Nonfiction Preview

By 49thShelf Staff

New books about everything, including food, beauty, art, travel, singing, healing, grieving, shopping, aging, and so muc …

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Book Cover Unlocking

CanLit Yearning

By Amy LeBlanc

"At the heart of my novella and in each book on this CanLit list is a sense of desire or a yearning (for belonging, iden …

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The Chat with Rev. Dr. Cheri DiNovo

The Chat with Rev. Dr. Cheri DiNovo

By Trevor Corkum

This week we’re in conversation with political trailblazer Rev. Dr. Cheri DiNovo, whose memoir, The Queer Evangelist, …

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Book Cover The Prairie Chicken Dance Tour

Most Anticipated: Our 2021 Fall Fiction Preview

By 49th Shelf Staff

With new books by Miriam Toews, Dawn Dumont, Douglas Coupland, Marie-Renee Lavoie, Omar El Akkad, Zoe Whittall, Trudy Mo …

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Book Cover The Quiet is Loud

Speculative Fiction: Vast and Thrilling

By Samantha Garner

"As a reader and a lightly superstitious human, I can’t deny the pull of the unusual, the not-quite-real. I love books …

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Quick Hits: Timeless Books With Amazing Raves

In Quick Hits, a new 49th Shelf series, we look through our stacks to bring you books that, when they were published, elicited a lot of reaction and praise. Our selections will include books published this year, last year, or any year. They will be from any genre. The best books are timeless, and they deserve to find readers whenever and wherever.

*****

19 Knives, by Mark Jarman

Genre: Short stories

Publisher: House of Anansi

What It's About

Quill & Quire described it like this—"Jarman’s work is .... fade-resistant. Each of 19 Knives’ 14 stories (all first-person narratives) integrates sparkling linguistic kinetics and honey-like narrative stickiness. Rejecting postmodern cynicism, Jarman celebrates life’s ecstatic mysteries. Religious in their own way – finding meaning in music and everyday life, not empty theology – these stories shake like Muddy Waters riding a riff into the dark recesses of the night."

What People Say

"It is very irritating to discover a wonderful book published too long ago to be an official 'book of the year.' Jarman's collection is ... brilliant. The writing is extraordinary, the stories are gripping, it is something new." —A.S. Byatt

"The best of many highlights in Jarman's new collection, 19 Knives, is 'Burn Man on a Texas Porch.' I …

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Quick Hits: Funny, Moving, and Everything In Between

In Quick Hits, a new 49th Shelf series, we look through our stacks to bring you books that, when they were published, elicited a lot of reaction and praise. Our selections will include books published this year, last year, or any year. They will be from any genre. The best books are timeless, and they deserve to find readers whenever and wherever.

*****

 

Dance, Gladys, Dance, by Cassie Stocks

Genre: Fiction

Publisher: NeWest Press

What It's About

Winner of the 2013 Stephen Leacock Award for Canadian Humour Writing, Dance, Gladys, Dance is about 27-year-old Frieda Zweig, who is at an impasse. Behind her is a string of failed relationships and half-forgotten ambitions of being a painter; in front of her lies the dreary task of finding a real job and figuring out what “normal” people do with their lives. Then, a classified ad in the local paper introduces Frieda to Gladys, an elderly woman who long ago gave up on her dreams of being a dancer. The catch? Gladys is a ghost. In Dance, Gladys, Dance, Cassie Stocks tells the uplifting story of a woman whose uncanny connection with a kindred spirit causes her to see her life in a new way—as anything but ordinary.

What People Say

"Cassie Stocks' debut novel, Dance, Gladys, Dance, is a quirky blend of comedy and tragedy with …

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Quick Hits: Dirt, Time Travel, Love, and Gossip

In Quick Hits, we look through our stacks to bring you books that, when they were published, elicited a lot of reaction and praise. Our selections will include books published this year, last year, or any year. They will be from any genre. The best books are timeless, and they deserve to find readers whenever and wherever.

*****

Eating Dirt, by Charlotte Gill

Genre: Literary Non-Fiction

Publisher: Greystone Books

What It's About

Eating Dirt is an extended postcard from the cut blocks—a vivid portrayal of one woman's life planting trees, her insights into the forest industry and its environmental implications, and a celebration of the wonder of trees.

Charlotte Gill spent almost twenty years working as a tree planter in the forests of Canada. During her million-tree career, she encountered hundreds of clear-cuts, each one a collision site between human civilization and the natural world. Charged with sowing the new forest in these clear-cuts, tree planters are a tribe caught between the stumps and the virgin timber, between environmentalists and loggers.

What People Say

“Eating Dirt will likely get passed, dog-eared and mud-stained around planting bush camps for seasons to come, and reading it will take retired treeplanters back to the thrilling agony of the cut blocks …

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Quick Hits: Infernos, Outrage, Love, and Anything But

In Quick Hits, we look through our stacks to bring you books that, when they were published, elicited a lot of reaction and praise. Our selections will include books published this year, last year, or any year. They will be from any genre. The best books are timeless, and they deserve to find readers whenever and wherever.

*****

Pathologies, by Susan Olding

Genre: Personal Essays

Publisher: Freehand Books

What It's About

In 15 personal essays, debut author Susan Olding takes us on an unforgettable journey into the complex heart of being human. Each essay dissects an aspect of Olding's life experience—from her vexed relationship with her father to her tricky dealings with her female peers; from her work as a counsellor and teacher to her persistent desire, despite struggles with infertility, to have children of her own. In a suite of essays forming the emotional climax of the book, Olding bravely recounts the adoption of her daughter, Maia, from an orphanage in China, and tells us the story of Maia's difficult adaptation to the unfamiliar state of being loved.

Written with as much lyricism, detail, and artfulness as the best short stories, the essays in Pathologies provide all the pleasures of fiction combined with the enrichment derived from the careful presentation o …

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Quick Hits: Books of the Year and Books for Right Now

In Quick Hits, we look through our stacks to bring you books that, when they were published, elicited a lot of reaction and praise. Our selections will include books published this year, last year, or any year. They will be from any genre. The best books are timeless, and they deserve to find readers whenever and wherever.

*****

 

Sweet Jesus, by Christine Pountney

Genre: Fiction

Publisher: McClelland & Stewart

What It's About

Set mainly on Vancouver Island, in Toronto, and in the American Midwest, Sweet Jesus tells the story of three siblings who, in the week before the 2012 US Presidential election, reunite and set off on a journey that will transform their lives.

Connie Foster, a mother of three young children, learns that her husband’s attempt to maintain their lifestyle has led them to financial ruin. Her sister, Hannah Crowe, a writer, desperately wants to have a child but the man she loves is determined not to. Zeus Ortega, their much younger adopted brother, who left the family home when he was only fifteen, is living in Chicago with his boyfriend and working as a therapeutic clown in a children’s hospital. Prompted by a heartbreaking loss, he quits his job and decides to search for his birth parents in New Mexico. Together, the three siblings head south and, …

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