Off the Page

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

Latest Blog Posts
Book Cover Instructor

9 Canadian Writers Who Run with the Night

By Beth Follett

A recommended reading list by the founder and publisher of Pedlar Press, whose new novel is Instructor.

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Book Cover Trip of the Dead

Apocalypses, Quests, and Survival

By Angela Misri

A great list of books for middle-grade readers by author of new novel Trip of the Dead.

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The Chat with Eva Crocker

The Chat with Eva Crocker

By Trevor Corkum

This week we’re in conversation with author Eva Crocker. Her debut novel, All I Ask, (House of Anansi Press) was publi …

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Book Cover A Town Called Solace

Mary Lawson: A Sense of Place

By Mary Lawson

"I don’t know if it’s a Canadian thing, or if people the world over are similarly drawn to the landscape they know w …

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Book Cover: Elvis Me and the Lemonade Summer

Most Anticipated: Our Books for Young Readers Preview

By 49thShelf Staff

Looking forward to some of the books for young readers (and readers of all ages) that we're going to be falling in love …

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I Read Canadian Day is back!

I Read Canadian Day is back!

By Geoffrey Ruggero

It’s back! After a very successful first year where authors, students, educators, librarians, parents and many other C …

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Book Cover The Adventures of Miss Petitfour

Notes From a Children's Librarian: Scrumptious Stories

By Julie Booker

DELICIOUS books about food and eating.

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Book Cover Firefly

The Kids: Are They Alright?

By Philippa Dowding

What is it like for a child who lives with a parent or who knows an adult struggling with a crisis of mental health, add …

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Where It All Happened: A List of Propulsive Settings

Where It All Happened: A List of Propulsive Settings

By Kiley Turner

Anyone who's read Emma Donoghue's The Pull of the Stars knows just how much the confines of that understaffed maternity …

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Book Cover Night Watch

Seeking Certainty in Uncertain Worlds

By Gillian Wigmore

A fascinating recommended reading list by the author of new book Night Watch.

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The Chat with David Bateman

author photo copy

Acclaimed writer David Bateman has just released his fabulous debut novel, DR SAD (University of Calgary Press). It follows the life of Stephen, a poet and academic living in a small city in the Interior of BC who learns he is HIV positive.

The late artist and writer RM Vaughn said “Only David Bateman, one of our finest poets, could bring academe to such sensual life. DR SAD is the story of a generational shift, one that turned learning into careerism and writing into telegraphing, and, most important, all that’s been lost in this turn. DR SAD makes academe sexy again. That in itself is an Everest-like feat, but to do it with style and grace? Only David Bateman.”

David Bateman has a PhD in English literature with a specialization in creative writing from the University of Calgary. He is currently a freelance arts journalist, painter, and performance poet who lives in Toronto. His poetry collections, all from Frontenac House Press (Calgary), include Invisible Foreground, Impersonating Flowers, ’tis pity, and Designation Youth. His collaborative long poems include “Wait Until Late Afternoon” with Hiromi Goto (Frontenac House Press) and “Pause” with Naomi Beth Wakan (Bevalia Press). His collection of short stories and creative non-fiction entitled A …

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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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Sarah Henstra on The Red Word

Lauded by no less than Tom Perrotta as "the smartest, most provocative novel I’ve read in a long time," The Red Word is Sarah Henstra's second fiction title (after her acclaimed YA debut Mad Miss Mimic), a campus novel set in the 1990s whose politics and preoccupations evoke our current zeitgeist. In many ways The Red Word is a #Me Too book, but its questions are much larger than a hashtag and Henstra has readers grappling with complicated questions about rape culture, culpability, and justice—all the while delivering a gorgeously written novel that's really hard to put down. 


49th Shelf: It’s always kind of funny when a book is declared as “timely” because it takes years to make a book, and I imagine this one has been in the works for a long time. Could you talk about your own timeline in terms of writing and your road to publication? How timely is this book really?

Sarah Henstra: That’s true! "Timely" makes it sound like one day you take a look at what’s blowing up Twitter and say "Oh yeah, gonna sit down a sec and write a novel about that." What a terrible plan that would be! Even if by some miracle you write it really fast (which I did not), and get it perfect right out of the gate (which I did not), novels take forever to come into print via …

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The Syllabus: Back-to-School Books for Grownups

Even if you're not enrolled in classes this year, these books—campus novels, literary homages, and historical imaginings—will give you that back-to-school feeling.


Dubious Documents, by Nick Bantock

About the book: From the creator of the bestselling Griffin & Sabine series comes a visual epistolary puzzle posed by a mysterious character named Magnus Berlin. Readers must study Berlin's introductory note, list of clues, and 16 multifaceted notes and envelopes to decode cryptic anagrams, picturegrams, number puzzles, and wordplay. When solved, each clue reveals one word—but the rest remains a mystery.

Packaged inside a folio with a tuck-in flap cover, spine stitching, and all 16 envelopes bound, Dubious Documents is an art object, keepsake, and puzzle in one treasured volume, and a distinctive gift or self-purchase for fans of puzzles, riddles, and anyone who enjoys an exquisitely designed challenge.

Why we're taking notice: A one-of-a-kind release, and a real treat for fans of Bantock's work. 


The Luminous Sea, by Melissa Barbeau

About the book: …

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