Off the Page

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

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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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The Right Book at the Right Time: Samuel Martin Reads Russell Wangersky's Whirl Away

Whirl Away

You know that feeling when a book comes to you at just the right time, when you need it most? That’s how I feel about Russell Wangersky’s new story collection Whirl Away. It’s a book about people whose lives are in tailspin: people trying to see straight through the blinding vertigo of change.

I can relate to that. Over the next few months I will finish a three month writer residency on Fogo Island (off the north coast of Newfoundland), launch my first novel A Blessed Snarl, edit and defend my Ph.D. dissertation, pack up my home, and move from St. John’s to the States for a new job. I’m a creature of habit, so change rocks me like the great gusts of wind that shake my studio here on the hill up from Deep Bay.

Sometimes I think there’s just too much on the go: too many emails to answer, too many forms to fill out for moving companies, immigration, real estate, insurance, etc. But so far so good: I’m holding it all together. Or, rather, Samantha, my wife, is holding it all together and I’m hanging onto her organisational skills for dear life. Most days, I feel like Dennis Meany in Wangersky’s story “McNally’s Fair,” test-running a rickety, old rollercoaster that could collapse on its next run.  Everything could skid off the road like the ambul …

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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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