Off the Page

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

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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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Canadian Books of the Year: Chosen by Educators and Librarians

Canadian Books of the Year: Chosen by Educators and Librarians

By 49th Teachers

We asked educators and librarians to share their favourite Canadian books of 2020.

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Photo of two books tucked into a  knitted cozy against a backdrop of a minimalist tree bedecked with white lights.

Happy Holidays!

By Kerry Clare

This year, books were the one thing we could count on.

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The Chat With Jen Sookfong Lee

Jen Sookfong Lee colour original file Sherri Koop Photography

TREVOR CORKUM cropped

What happens when an adult daughter finds the corpses of two teenaged girls at the bottom of her dead mother’s freezer? That’s at the heart of Jen Sookfong Lee’s latest novel, The Conjoined. It’s a pleasure to be in conversation with Jen on this week’s Chat.

Writing in The Globe and Mail about the book’s many twists and turns, Stacey May Fowles says, “In the universe Lee has created, coming to the truth is more about nuance, empathy and openhearted understanding than it is about any strict, simplistic set of rules about good and evil, right or wrong.”

Jen Sookfong Lee was born and raised in Vancouver’s East Side, where she now lives with her son. Her books include The Conjoined, The Better Mother (a finalist for the City of Vancouver Book Award), The End of East, and Shelter, a novel for young adults. Her poetry, fiction, and articles have appeared in a variety of magazines and anthologies, including Elle Canada, Hazlitt, Room, and Event. A popular radio personality, Jen was the voice behind CBC Radio One’s weekly writing column, W …

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"Love Song," by Theresa Kishkan

Book Cover the Summer Book

Theresa Kishkan weaves a gorgeous narrative out of light and time in her beautiful essay, "Love Story," which opens the newly-released non-fiction collection The Summer Book, edited by Mona Fertig. Reviewer Howard Stewart calls the The Summer Book "a masterpiece collection of finely crafted and evocative reminders of why summer is such a special season"; read this essay for a taste of just how right he is. 

*****

On an early summer morning, I wake to the sound of Swainson’s thrushes. Beyond my bedroom window, beyond the house, they sing where the woods begin. And there are robins, vireos, the long whistle of a varied thrush. My curtains are rough white linen, and they filter light, the light at dawn, coming from the east, pink and golden as the sun finds its way over Mount Hallowell. My husband sleeps closest to the window, and he pulls the curtains aside to let in more song. There is honeysuckle blooming, and dog roses, trumpet vines. Hummingbirds bury themselves in the flowers. The pink throats of the tree frogs inflate, a loud vibrato close enough to touch. A face peers in the window through the lattice of vines, and it’s a weasel, as surprised to see me in a bed with pillows and a log-cabin quilt as I am to see a weasel among the dog roses. That’s what I …

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Crime Novels: Noir by Northwest

Book Cover Cut You Down

Sam Wiebe (whose most recent novel is Cut You Down, which “convincingly brings Raymond Chandler into the twenty-first century," according to a starred review in Publishers Weekly) recommends eight other crime novels set in the Pacific Northwest. 

*****

Find You in the Dark, by Nathan Ripley 

Seattle: Martin Reese is a retired tech millionaire who spends his free time searching for the bodies of undiscovered serial killer victims. Is he a heroic benefactor, doing what the police can’t, or is he motivated by something darker? Find You In the Dark captures the uncomfortable overlap of Seattle’s business and culture sectors.

*

Zero Avenue, by Dietrick Kalteis

Vancouver and the US/Canada border: Kalteis’s tale of 70s’ Vancouver focuses on the emerging punk scene, as well as the cross-border pot trade. His work has been compared to Elmore …

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The Randomizer

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