Off the Page

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

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Book Cover the Queer Evangelist

On Telling the Truth in Politics

By Cheri Divnovo

An excerpt from new memoir The Queer Evangelist, Cheri DiNovo's story of her life as a queer minister, politician and st …

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 The Chat with GG's Literature Award Winners The Fan Brothers

The Chat with GG's Literature Award Winners The Fan Brothers

By Trevor Corkum

We continue our special coverage of this year’s Governor General's Literature Award winners in conversation with the a …

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Book Cover Oy Feh So

Notes from a Children's Librarian: Books on Jewish Heritage

By Julie Booker

Compelling stories showcasing Jewish Heritage to be enjoyed by readers of all ages.

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The Chat with GG's Literature Award Winner Madhur Anand

The Chat with GG's Literature Award Winner Madhur Anand

By Trevor Corkum

Check out our conversation with Madhur Anand, whose brilliant experimental memoir This Red Line Goes Straight to Your He …

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Me and Bridget Jones (20 Years Later)

Me and Bridget Jones (20 Years Later)

By Erika Thorkelson

Erika Thorkelson's "Me and Bridget Jones (20 Years Later)" is one of the essays in Midlife, a new essay collection explo …

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The Chat with GG's Literature Award Winner Michelle Good

The Chat with GG's Literature Award Winner Michelle Good

By Trevor Corkum

Today we are pleased to kick off our special coverage of the 2020 Governor General's Award winners (English-language) wi …

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Book Cover Cattail Skyline

The World Up Close

By Joanne Epp

A recommended reading list by author of new book CATTAIL SKYLINE on paying close attention to the small and particular.

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Book Cover What's In It For Me

The Keepers on My Bookshelf

By LS Stone

Depth and humour are themes in this great recommended reading list by the author of the new middle grade novel What's in …

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Book Cover the Girl from Dream City

How Does a Woman Become a Writer?

By Linda Leith

"The writers who interest me most, always, are women who write about themselves in ways that a male writer never could." …

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Book Cover Big Reader

11 Essay Collections to Revisit Now

By Susan Olding

"The bestselling novel of a decade ago will sometimes seem stale or irrelevant today, but that’s rarely true of an ess …

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Peter, Peter, Pumpkin Eater

An excerpt from Nothing More Comforting: Canada's Heritage Food by Dorothy Duncan

I light the prairie cornfields Orange and tawny gold clusters And I am
called pumpkins.
Carl Sandburg, "Theme in Yellow"

Pumpkins

Squash is the name we often use in Canada to include a wide variety of vegetables that grow throughout the western hemisphere. They are native to the Americas and were known and grown by the First Nations long before the arrival of explorers from other countries. Evidence of squash dating from 7,000 to 5,500 B.C. has been found at the Ocampa Caves in Mexico, and from there it would have travelled north. In the eastern United States, two-thousandyear- old burial mounds have yielded up similar evidence.

Among many First Nations, squash, beans, and corn were known as the Three Sisters.They were grown together, the corn standing tall and straight, the beans climbing the corn stalks, and the squash spreading out to control the weeds. When they were harvested, they were often eaten together to complement one another.

Early European explorers searching for the treasures of the Indies found instead the culinary treasures of the Americas, including squash. Although usually associated with North American cooking, squash was also carried to other parts of the world. In Great Br …

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Shelf Talkers: Thanksgiving 2015 Edition

The experts say (well, let’s put “experts” in quotation marks here—the “experts” in the Self-Help section say) that an understanding and expression of gratitude in our daily lives is one of the keys to greater happiness and a more thorough sense of well-being in our own existence.

It’s a good suggestion, and likely a valuable process, but an ongoing sense of gratitude is something I have never quite been able to integrate into my generally more cynical days.

Which is why, every year, I find myself looking forward to Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving, in Canada, is one of the most peculiar of national holidays: it’s not drawn from any particular religious tradition, it doesn’t really mark any historical event, it’s just ... there. The second Monday of every October, an opportunity to give thanks, to quote the official 1957 proclamation that created the occasion, for “the bountiful harvest with which Canada has been blessed.”

Because of Thanksgiving’s peculiarity, it’s become a very personal holiday for many, myself included. Certainly, there are cultural traditions (I’ve been counting down to the first dinner of “A Turkey Dinner Every Month!” season for six weeks or so), but for many people, the Thanksgiving weekend is a chance to celebrate not a bountiful harvest, but the bounties of our own lives. We spend time with our families, we spend time alone, considering the year past...

It’s probably my favourite holiday.

But Thanksgiving is, in many ways, sti …

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Shelf Talkers: Thanksgiving 2017 Edition

Gratitude.

It seems like such a small thing, doesn’t it? Aren’t most of taught, from our earliest days, to say thank you? To be grateful?

It’s not that easy, though. And it’s more important than we had ever imagined.

As we gather, this week, for a national day of gratitude, tucking into our turkey (or turkey substitute), it’s worth noting that not only have the vast majority of spiritual and religious traditions long endorsed the significant benefits of gratitude, but Forbes magazine, of all places, has also come aboard, recognizing seven scientifically proven benefits of gratitude, including health benefits, better sleep, and greater mental strength.

And if Forbes has been writing about it, there must be something to it, right?

If you don’t already have a practice for gratitude, why don’t you try this with me: this weekend, before you dig in, take a moment to really experience gratitude, to give thanks (even silently) for the good things in your life.

One thing that I’m thankful for (and I’m sure I’ve said it before), is that every month I get to spend some virtual time with some of Canada’s finest independent booksellers. I spent more than two decades of my life on the weary side of retail, and this column allows me to keep in touch with a part of my life I miss more than I was expecting to.

Plus, they always recommend such great books.

This month I asked, in a fairly general way, for our booksellers to talk about a book or author they were grateful for. Here …

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Shelf Talkers: Read Your Way to a Relaxed Thanksgiving

There’s a hard truth that people are, rightly, reluctant to discuss: Thanksgiving can be something of a mixed bag.
Sure, it’s a long weekend, right when we need it most. With summer but a distant memory and the routines of the fall starting to weigh heavily upon us a three-day weekend, with its promise of a good dinner and some relaxed time with those closest to us, seems like the answer to the early autumn ennui.
But those three days can quickly turn from warm and relaxed to intense and overscheduled. Juggling timelines, fretting over details, sweating over an unexpected intensity...and that’s just cooking your turkey dinner!

To counter this, it’s important to remember the meaning of the day: this is an opportunity to slow down and consider the blessings in our lives. To be, well, thankful.

This weekend, take some time for yourself. Take some time for self-care. Take some time to unplug, to unplan, to sequester yourself away. A few hours can make a world of difference, not just to the day, but to the coming weeks as well. Take a holiday from your holiday.

And why not plan a family trip to a local independent bookstore, followed by an afternoon of quiet reading? No screens, no pressure, just a good book, for everyone.

Canada's independent booksellers have a few recommendations to help with your holiday within your holiday. And if you want more suggestions, just ask: there’s nothing a bookseller likes more than recommending a beloved book.

Except maybe turkey. Though that …

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