Off the Page

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

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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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Book Cover Better Luck Next Time

Patriarchy Lies: Women Are Funny

By Kate Hilton

A funny woman reading list by the author of new novel Better Luck Next Time.

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 The Chat with Eve Lazarus

The Chat with Eve Lazarus

By Trevor Corkum

Eve Lazarus has drawn back the curtain on some of Vancouver’s secret places. Vancouver Exposed: Searching for the City …

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"I’ll take the long road and a ballpoint any day": Guest Post by Anne Perdue


This week's guest post is by Anne Perdue who writes about the promotional book tour as a voyage of self-discovery. Anne Perdue is author of I'm a Registered Nurse Not a Whore, and you can read more about her book tour on the Let's See How Far This Car Can Go Blog.

When Insomniac Press offered to publish I’m a Registered Nurse Not a Whore, I was ecstatic. But it was also a time of profound sorrow and loss, as my mom had passed away in Vancouver four days prior. Amidst the bitter sweetness an idea came to me. I would celebrate my book and share it with my mom by driving her ’89 Mustang across the country. On an old-fashioned road trip book tour. And if the old car broke down on the Coquihalla, well that’d be as far as the tour would go. It seemed like a great idea until I realized I had no concept of how to venture forth on a book tour.

I decided to begin with something concrete, or rather asphaltic, namely roads. Using CAA triptiks I determined routes and travel times. Using the Canadian Booksellers Association website I researched bookstores. I placed calls, sent emails, wrote press releases, made more phone calls and plotted my trip, all the while imagining the stunning drive and the interesting conversations I’d have with readers, writers, strangers … A …

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Zoe Whittall's Contemporary Queer Fiction List

To celebrate Pride this week, we're pleased to feature Zoe Whittall's Contempory Queer Fiction List:

Skim: a graphic novel with words by Mariko Tamaki, illustrations by Jillian Tamaki: A story about a lesbian student-teacher affair at a thinly fictionalized Havergal College.




Mosh Pit by Kristyn Dunnion: a YA novel about young punk rock queers.






Missed Her by Ivan Coyote: This is the most recent book I've read by Ivan and it had me weeping and I'm *really* not easily moved but actually I would urge you to buy all of Ivan's books of stories, or Bow Grip, Ivan's novel, which was excellent.





Six Metres of Pavement by F …

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YOSS Guide for Novices


Even before a passionate group of writers and readers declared 2011 the Year of the Short Story (YOSS), Canadian short stories had been enjoying some time back in the spotlight. Sarah Selecky’s This Cake is for the Party and Alexander MacLeod’s Light Lifting were both much celebrated and made the Giller Prize shortlist last year, and Katrina Best’s Bird Eat Bird won Best First Book for the Canada/Caribbean Section of the Commonwealth Writers Prize. Online initiatives like Joyland and Found Press are giving short stories new life online.



And now the YOSS itself has delivered some remarkable new short story collections, all of this an absolute boon for those readers devoted to the form, and has surely also brought about a few converts. But there remain those readers upon whom all the celebration is lost, those who’ve tried and fail …

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Kathleen Winter: Books that Made me Laugh out Loud in Public

Read Kathleen Winter's reading list at Canadian Bookshelf

Kathleen Winter has written dramatic and documentary scripts for Sesame Street and CBC Television. Her first collection of short stories, boYs, was the winner of both the Winterset Award and the 2006 Metcalfe-Rooke Award. Her novel Annabel was shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize, the 2010 Governer General's Awards, the 2011 Orange Prize, and won the Atlantic Fiction Prize. A long-time resident of St. John's, Newfoundland, she now lives in Montreal.

Here are six books that have made me laugh out loud on buses, in the metro, and in public waiting rooms. They are books that have rendered me helpless with teary-eyed mirth; books that have made me snort among strangers:




The Fearsome Particles on Kathleen Winter's reading list

The Fearsome Particles by Trevor Cole: I found this book so immaculately written, the language so crystalline, that for me it hummed with intelligence and became a sanctuary from the world’s inane moments as I read. I admired Cole’s ability to repeatedly plant in the story a seemingly innocuous seed which grows underground and bursts o …

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Profiling Carolyn Black: [warning: photographic evidence]

The Odious Child by Carolyn Black.

Challenge: To profile an author who is notoriously shy about being profiled in the media.

Solution: Let her suggest that she be left out of the process save for a mysterious envelope.

To know something about Carolyn Black—author of the short story collection The Odious Child (Nightwood Editions)—I should first tell you something about me personally. If all goes to plan, by the end of this piece you'll know everything yet nothing that could be tied to a PIN.

Something about me: If you let me tell your story, I'll oblige. I'm writing this from Saving Gigi at Bloor and Ossington. I don't live in this neighbourhood. I've just sent a text to a friend which reads: "Finally looking at the images Carolyn Black sent for her CSI-like author profile. Laughing too loud at toenail clippings. May have to pick me up from the precinct."

Something about Carolyn Black: Carolyn Black will palm you an envelope at a reception for the Trillium Book Awards with the express instruction not to open the envelope that contains four smaller envelopes, each housing a sample of Carolyn's body. Each sample has been photographed, albeit carefully-crafted, and stored on the flash drive Carolyn slips into your other hand. While this encounter has its beginnings—you'd anticipated the images (i …

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