Off the Page

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

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Book Cover Kid Sterling

Kid Sterling: Books on Jazz and Justice

By Christine Welldon

Christine Welldon introduces her debut novel, Kid Sterling, and she marks its release with a list of inspiring books tha …

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book cover eat salt/gaze at the ocean

Most Anticipated: Our 2020 Fall Poetry Preview

By 49th Shelf Staff

Our Fall Preview continues with poetry, an intriguing selection of debuts, collected works, and excellent new releases.

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Shelf Talkers: Books for Summer 2020

Shelf Talkers: Books for Summer 2020

By Robert J Wiersema

Here are our booksellers’ picks for your endless summer days. And if you exhaust this list, remember, more recommendat …

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The Chat with Madhur Anand

The Chat with Madhur Anand

By Trevor Corkum

Our first conversation this month is with writer Madhur Anand, whose brilliant experimental memoir This Red Line Goes St …

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Awesome August Giveaway

Awesome August Giveaway

By Kiley Turner

We hope you've had some wonderful summer escapes by now – we all deserve some magic this season! Today, we're highligh …

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Book Cover Blue Sky Kingdom

Let's Get Out of This Town: Literary Travel

By Kerry Clare

Journey through place and time with this collection of new and forthcoming travel books, spotlighting some of the best t …

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Book Cover Bird's Eye View

Ann Eriksson Launches BIRD'S EYE VIEW

By Kerry Care

"Anyone, young or old, who wants to learn more about the birds that live in their neighbourhood or on the other side of …

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The Chat with John Elizabeth Stintzi

The Chat with John Elizabeth Stintzi

By Trevor Corkum

Writer John Elizabeth Stinzi has the distinction of publishing two fabulous debuts a week apart this past spring. On The …

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Robert Bateman

Notes from a Children's Librarian: Bird Books

By Julie Booker

A flock of tales to get young readers into birding.

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Book Cover Hope Matters

Most Anticipated: Our 2020 Fall Nonfiction Preview

By 49th Shelf Staff

We're looking forward to books about history, true crime, memoir, nature, music, dance, food, and so much more. There's …

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Marissa Stapley on Commercial Fiction in Canada

Book Cover Mating for Life

My first encounter with Marissa Stapley was through her bestselling novel, Mating For Life, which I adored for its smarts and abject bookishness—not enough novels have references to Lauren Groff's debut, The Monsters of Templeton, I think. Since then, I've also come to admire Stapley as a reader and a critic, particularly in her role as commercial fiction columnist for The Globe and Mail. Her work and literary championing has made me curious about commercial fiction as a genre, and also how it fits into the Canadian literary scene.

In this Q&A, Stapley delivers the lowdown.

*****

KC: So let’s start with the hardest, biggest question: what is commercial fiction? Where do its boundaries blur? Are there boundaries at all?

MS: There are some books that fall firmly into one category or the other—but most books don’t. When I pressed myself to try to come up with an answer for you, one that seemed to reflect the opinion of many, all I could come up with was: commercial fiction is focused on plot and entertainment and less on the craft of writing; literary fiction is less focused on plot and doesn’t care if it’s entertaining, because it’s art.

Oh, how I hate that answer! It’s too general. It marginalizes and excludes. And while I do understand the need to lab …

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Reese's Book Club: CanLit Match-Ups

Reese Witherspoon knows how to pick 'em—she's well on her way to becoming the Oprah's Book Club of our time. Our only criticism? Her books aren't Canadian enough. So to remedy that, we've paired some of her stellar picks with Canadian counterparts. Definitely keep these in mind for your book club and when you're planning your next great read. 

*****

Book Cover The Secrets We Kept

If you liked The Secrets We Kept, by Lara Prescott, then try....

A Killer in Kings Cove, by Iona Whishaw (and the rest of the books in the Lane Winslow Mystery series)

Why we picked it: Historical fiction fans (who love a bit of Soviet intrigue) will love this series about a brilliant ex-spy who tries to settle down for a quieter life in British Columbia after World War Two, but who finds that mystery follows her wherever she goes. 

About the book: It is 1946, and war-weary young ex-intelligence officer Lane Winslow leaves London to look for a fresh start. When she finds herself happily settled into a sleepy hamlet in the interior of British Columbia surrounded by a suitably eclectic cast of small-town chara …

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12 Books I Can't Get Out of My Mind

I can’t fall asleep unless I’ve torn through the pages of an excellent novel first, and I probably read three or four books a week. I devour commercial fiction in all different genres, and it’s not easy to narrow down my favourites. But the following twelve books, in no particular order, are the reads that I just can’t get out of my mind because they’re that spectacular.

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The Arrangement, by Robyn Harding

I’ve inhaled all of Robyn Harding’s books, but The Arrangement really hooked me right from the first line. Take Natalie, a desperate art student; a sugar baby website; Gabe, a rich, older man; add in a murder, and you’ve got the most tantalizing story-line. It's a fantastic, emotional, twisted, perfectly paced read, set against a vivid New York City backdrop, and is so seductive I couldn’t put it down.

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Hurry Home, by Ro …

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