Off the Page

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

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Book Cover Memoir Conversations and Craft

Dazzling Memoirs

By Marjorie Simmins

Marjorie Simmins, author of MEMOIR: CONVERSATIONS AND CRAFTS, recommends her dream lineup of memoirs.

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For Fans of Grisham, Munro, Wolitzer, Shriver, and More

For Fans of Grisham, Munro, Wolitzer, Shriver, and More

By Kiley Turner

Isn't it great when you find a new author or series that fits your reading taste to a tee? Here are a few new books that …

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Book Cover Big Reader

A Taster: Spring 2021 Nonfiction Preview

By 49th Shelf Staff

Life stories, family, baseball, and retreat. These highlight the nonfiction we're most looking forward to this spring. 

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ICYMI: Don't Miss These Beauties

ICYMI: Don't Miss These Beauties

By Kiley Turner

The pandemic has wreaked havoc on our attention spans, making it possible to miss really great fiction. These books caug …

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Book Cover Small Courage

Small Courage: Parenting Memoirs

By Jane Byers

A recommended reading list by Jane Byers, whose new queer parenting memoir is out now.

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The Chat with Kimiko Tobimatsu

The Chat with Kimiko Tobimatsu

By Trevor Corkum

Author Kimiko Tobimatsu and illustrator Keet Geniza have teamed up to create Kimiko Does Cancer, a timely graphic memoir …

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Book Cover Best Canadian Poetry 2020

A Record of Literary History: Best Canadian Poetry 2020

By Marilyn Dumont

An excerpt from Marilyn Dumont's introduction to BEST CANADIAN POETRY 2020.

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Book Cover Book of Donair

The Donair: Canada's Official Food?

By Lindsay Wickstrom

Excerpt from BOOK OF DONAIR explores how a bitter rivalry between Halifax and Edmonton helped propel the donair to be de …

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Book Cover My Ocean is Blue

Notes From a Children's Librarian: Questions, Questions

By Julie Booker

Great picture books that engage with questions and encourage readers to think about answers.

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Book Cover Gutter Child

Most Anticipated: Our 2021 Spring Fiction Preview

By 49thShelf Staff

Exciting debuts, and new releases by Christy Ann Conlin, Pasha Malla, Eva Stachniak, Jael Richardson, and more.

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Visceral: A Book List, Part II

Today we follow up Part I of our focus on visceral books: books we feel in our bodies as much as our brains, books that can range from shocking to arousing to graphic ... and more. These books often stay with us long after we've turned the last page. We're pleased to present a compilation of these books, complete with publishers' descriptions and review excerpts.

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Midnight Tides, by Steven Erikson: Book Five of The Malazan Book of the Fallen, Midnight Tides is the most visceral of the series. After decades of internecine warfare, the tribes of the Tiste Edur have at last united under the Warlock King of the Hiroth, There is peace—but it has been exacted at a terrible price: a pact made with a hidden power whose motives are at best suspect, at worst deadly. To the south, the expansionist kingdom of Lether has enslaved all its less-civilized neighbors with rapacious hunger. All, that is, save one—the Tiste Edur. It seems only a matter of time before they too fall, either beneath the suffocating weight of gold, or by slaughter at the edge of a sword. Yet as the two sides gather for a pivotal treaty neither truly wants, ancient forces are awakening. The impending struggle between these two peoples is but a pale reflection of a far more profound, primal battle …

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Shelf Talkers: Mid-Summer 2018

Summer.

The very word sends a shiver down the spine, carrying with it memories and echoes of those glorious months from our younger days when the world seemed limitless, and full of potential.

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For readers, the summer months have a special connotation. We remember not family trips, per se, but those books we read wedged in the back seat. We remember not pick-up games in the yard, but library reading programs and the stacks of books we devoured, heedless of the outside world. (Did you cross an ocean, measuring the nautical miles in page counts? Or did your reading stats take you on an epic walk? Did you get stickers, or bookmarks, or was the reading simply for its own sake, with no thought of prizes?) We remember all that time we had to read what we wanted, not what we had to read for school. Summer is when we made some of the reading discoveries that have lasted for a lifetime, books and authors who would shape us, in ways we may not even really understand.

As exciting as summer is for adults, it’s never quite so wondrous as those we remember.

But as readers, we can recapture a bit of that magic, whether we’re travelling the world, or sipping coffee on our tiny deck.

This month, the booksellers of the Shelf Talkers column pull back the curtain a little to describe …

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Shelf Talkers: Women, Songs, Oceans, Freedom, and Hellfire

It’s a special time of year.

September.

Even the word sounds a little magical.

The kids are back in school, some of us are taking classes, our routines are starting to settle again, after a few months of lovely summer entropy...

This month, our dedicated independent booksellers (including a couple of new folks!) have selected a set of fantastic fall reads. These are all fiction, all novels, but it’s striking just how close these picks hew to the real world, and what is going on in it. Sometimes we read for escape, and sometimes—like now—we read to connect to the world, to have the light of fiction shone into the shadows of the real world.

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The Bookseller: Colin Holt, Bolen Books (Victoria, BC)

The Pick: Women Talking, by Miriam Toews 

Women Talking, the fantastic new novel from Miriam Toews, tells the story of a group of Mennonite women meeting in secret to decide the fate of their community. Set over 48 hours, and told from the view of the lone male in attendance (because the women are unable to read or write but need this event transcribed), Women Talking is a powerful read about the inner strength a group of women find to take control and change their futures for the better. It is a story that is often heartbreaking but sprinkled with wit to make it bearable …

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The Chat with Rawi Hage

Hage, Rawi -- credit Babak Salari

TREVOR CORKUM cropped

Rawi Hage’s latest—the 2018 Scotiabank Giller Prize-longlisted Beirut Hellfire Society—follows the story of an undertaker’s son during Lebanon’s Civil War.

Quill & Quire calls Beirut Hellfire Society “a novel of tragic beauty and dark humour that is comfortable with contradiction and charged with probing philosophical insights and the luminosity of Arabic poetry. It’s a timeless story of the outcast whose act of witness chronicles the world he observes.”

Rawi Hage was born in Beirut, Lebanon. He immigrated to Canada in 1992 and now lives in Montreal. His first novel, De Niro’s Game, won the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and was shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and the Governor General’s Literary Award. Cockroach was the winner of the Paragraphe Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction and a finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Award. It was also shortlisted for the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Award and the Scotiabank Giller Prize. His third novel, Carnival, was a finalist for the Writers’ Trust Award and won the P …

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