Off the Page

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

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49thShelf Summer Reads: the 10 titles on the summer reading list

Introducing the 49th Shelf Summer Books List: Part 1

By Kerry Clare

Summer is HERE, and with it our Summer Reading List, and just to make that sweet deal even sweeter, every single (awesom …

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The Chat with GG's Literature Award Winner Lazer Lederhendler

The Chat with GG's Literature Award Winner Lazer Lederhendler

By Trevor Corkum

Next up in our special 2020 GG Awards coverage is our conversation with Lazer Lederhendler, who won his third Governor G …

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Book Cover Memoria

Books for Portuguese History & Heritage Month

By Fernanda Viveiros

A recommended reading list by editor of the new anthology Memória: An Anthology of Portuguese Canadian Writers.

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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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Canadian Bookshelf Takes You Back to School

Yellow student-crossing sign

It’s hard to escape the allure of the Back to School season, with its new shoes, backpacks, and three-ring binders, shiny pencil cases with sharpened pencils inside, and fresh, pink, perfect erasers. Even with another month of summer still technically before us, and even though many of us aren’t even going back to school, September is still a month of yellow busses, crunchy leaves and new beginnings. The good news is that anyone can start studying via Canadian Bookshelf and the amazing array of how-to books that can be found in our virtual library.

So you want to find out How to Be a Spy. Or even more mysteriously, How to Crack the Cryptic Crossword? You can find out How to Be Happy, or at least How to Be Not Too Bad.

How to be a Spy

Heritage House Publishers has a whole line of fishing manuals, from How to Catch Trout to How to Catch Crabs, and at the end of the day there’s always How to Cook Your Catch. Back on dry land, there is How to Make a Garden, How to Get Your Lawn off Grass, and you can go to natural extremes with How to Get Your Lawn and Garden Off …

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What I Read on my Summer Vacation: Guest Post by Andrew Larsen

Andrew Larsen (in a hat!)

As a stay at home dad, it’s never easy to carve out time to write. Summer presents a whole new set of challenges. This past summer I was able to do some writing in the very early morning, before the rest of the house was awake. On the whole, however, my kids’ summer vacation meant that I had to take a vacation from writing. So, instead, I read. What a treat! I so seldom get a chance to read. And with the beginning of the new school year I resolve to read even more. Meanwhile, here are some of my recently read favourites:

Chapter Books

Banjo of Destiny by Cary Fagan:

Quirky and delightful, Cary Fagan’s Banjo of Destiny tells the story Jeremiah Birnbaum. Jeremiah is the unconventional child of wealthy parents who appears to have it all. In fact, it all counts for nothing. The greatest thing he has is his passion to learn to play the banjo. Overcoming numerous hurdles, to say nothing of his foolish parents, Jeremiah follows his heart and discovers that he is capable of creating much more than just good music.

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Notes From a Children's Librarian: Creative Thinking and Collaboration

Our Children's Librarian columnist, Julie Booker, brings us a new view from the stacks every month.

*****

September is about change, new routines, working things out and learning to work together with friends and schoolmates. These books about creative thinking and collaboration to solve problems have never been so timely.

Any Questions, by Mary Louise-Gay, is a brilliant introduction to the writing process for readers as young as kindergarten. The book itself is a collaborative adventure, beginning with the author fielding questions during a school visit. “How do you write a story?” the kids ask. Gay begins by explaining a white piece of paper might inspire a snowstorm. But what if it’s a yellowish paper or a purplish gray? Gay then begins a story-within-a-story with the illustrated characters offering suggestions (along with the readers, especially if this is used as a read-aloud). Will it be about a ferocious snail or a boy who can fly? Gay decides on a shy giant and a purple beast. The reader watches how the author paints, creates, and writes, scratching things out, changing her mind. The illustrations are large, compelling, with enough detail to beg for a re-read. Plus, it’s paced perfectly so that the characters, and the reader, are disappointed when i …

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Back to School Books from Preschool to University

Whether you're a preschooler, an elementary school student, heading off to a school for the arts, feeling exam pressure already, ready to tackle college or university or the world beyond it, and especially if you're a teacher, we've got a back to school title for you. 

*****

A+ for Big Ben, by Sara Ellis and Kim LaFave

About the book: His sister is a big kid in grade five. His brother is a big kid in grade three. Ben is a little kid in preschool. He can’t swim; he can’t use chopsticks; he can’t even see out of the car window. If only he could bring home a real report card like the older kids do, then Ben would be happy. But there are no report cards in preschool. Sometimes older siblings remember what it was like to be little, however, and Ben’s brother and sister are about to present Ben with his very own report card, grading him on all the activities that little brothers do best.

Award-winning author and illustrator Sarah Ellis and Kim La Fave team up to produce a book that is a triumph for little siblings everywhere. The engaging text, lively illustrations, and board book format are perfect for eager readers with little hands, big hearts, and bigger dreams.

Why it's worth tucking into your backpack: You don't have to go to school to know it's back to school …

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Janice MacDonald Goes Back to School in Fiction

Book Cover Another Margaret

The latest title in Janice MacDonald's Randy Craig Mystery Series is Another Margaret, in which Randy Craig, MacDonald's peripatetic academic sleuth, helps her best friend organize their 20-year reunion at the University of Alberta. Not suffering any of the typical reunion anxieties, however, Randy is more concerned with resolving a 20 year old CanLit scandal and catching a ruthless killer. Her tumultuous past as a graduate student comes rushing into the present as she faces off against old ghosts and imminent death.

In this guest post, MacDonald explores the appeal of the campus novel, and provocatively asserts that academic mysteries are superior to their mainstream literary counterparts every time

*****

Although we may have worked our way through several thick, trashy beach reads and even tackled one of those bucket list denizens like Proust or Tolstoy while slathering on the sunscreen, we perpetual students, we bookish types, revel in the fall. Autumn days, crisp and clear, bring to many the timeless desire to buy knee socks, punched hole reinforcements and a new Thermos. It also brings to mind booklists and, for those of us no longer attending institutes of higher learning, campus or academic novels.

As the writer of the Randy Craig Mysteries, a series set in …

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