Off the Page

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

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Shelf Talkers: Spring 2021

Shelf Talkers: Spring 2021

By Robert J. Wiersema

One of the best pieces of news in an otherwise dark year was the word that, despite the growth of online giants during t …

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Book Cover The Shadow Life

My Drifter Reading List

By Jen Sookfong Lee

A poetry list by the author of new book The Shadow List.

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Book Cover Fuse

Persian-Canadian Writers You've Got to Read

By Hollay Ghadery

So, where were all the Persian Canadian writers? It turns out, here all along, but not as represented as one might hope; …

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Tough Like Mum: An Essential Picture Book for Kids *and* Adults

Tough Like Mum: An Essential Picture Book for Kids *and* Adults

By Geoffrey Ruggero

Picture books are often written with young children as their intended audience. In Tough Like Mum, Lana Button provides …

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Book Cover We Jane

Aimee Wall on The Great Canadian Abortion Novel

By Kerry Clare

"I didn’t want the plot to turn on an abortion or the decision to have one. Any conflict or tension is rooted elsewher …

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Book Cover Because the Sun

Poetry That's Going to Grab You

By 49thShelf Staff

Great books to read before for National Poetry Month is out.

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The Chat with Christopher DiRaddo

The Chat with Christopher DiRaddo

By Trevor Corkum

Christopher DiRaddo’s sophomore novel, The Family Way, is a dynamic and rich exploration of queer family, parenthood, …

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Book Cover No More Plastic

Fighting for the Planet: Inspiring Books for Earth Day

By Kerry Clare

An eclectic list of inspiring books about fighting to protect the planet.

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Book Cover Hour of the Crab

Other Beings, Other Minds

By Patricia Robertson

A recommended reading list by author of the new book Hour of the Crab.

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Book Cover WANTED! Criminals of the Animal Kingdom

Notes from a Children's Librarian: Life Sciences

By Julie Booker

Celebrate Earth Day with these fun and inspiring picture books.

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Win 1 of 5 Copies of Your First Home: A Buyer's Kit by Kimberley Marr. #realestate #homebuyers #givecdn

Kimberely Marr, author of Your First Home

Kimberley Marr, CAAP, ABR, is a RE/MAX real estate broker with over 23 years' experience. Throughout her career she has assisted many buyers and sellers in fulfilling their real estate goals and dreams. Marr has developed and taught real estate buyers' programs for the last 17 years with a focus on first-time home buyers. She has made television appearances and has been a speaker at national and international real estate, mortgage financing, and industry related conferences. Your First Home: A Buyer's Kit is her first book. Visit her online at

Julie Wilson: In your experience, what would say is the #1 misconception about buying your first home?

Kimberley Marr: There is a misconception that a large down payment (i.e. 20-30 percent of the purchase price) is required, which may not be the case for buyers that qualify for a high-ratio type of mortgage. Mortgages usually fall into one of two categories—conventional or high-ratio financing. Sometimes a buyer, based on lender underwriting criteria qualifies for a mortgage, may not have a large enough down payment to be considered a conventional type of mortgage (i.e., 20 per cent or more of the purchase or appraised price whichever is lower, for a down payment). However, the buyer may still be able t …

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Feel the Love Valentine's Day Contest

Valentines Book

Photo Credit: Eric M. Martin

Whether or not you’ve found your one true love, you’ve read enough to know what it should feel like—and it ain’t all pretty. For Valentine’s Day, help us create a list of Canadian books with powerful love stories in them. The love can end well, it can end tragically, but it must have made your heart beat harder or broken it at least a little.

We've started off the Feel the Love list, so add your book(s) by:

By adding a book to our list in any of these three ways, you get entered automatically into our contest to win a $150 gift certificate for books at the bookstore of your choice. You can also enter by sharing the list on Twitter or by sharing one of our FB posts about the contest (for both options add #cdnbooklove).

Contest ends at midnight on February 14, 2013. We will announce the winner February 15!

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To the Core: The 49th Shelf Contest for National Poetry Month


For National Poetry Month, we want to celebrate how poetry can cut through everything to get to the core of what is beautiful … or rotten … or otherwise remarkable—and we need your help. Consider the following ideas from a lovely article we found by Roger Housden:

Poetry at its best calls forth our deep being. It dares us to break free from the safe strategies of the cautious mind .... It is a magical art, and always has been—a making of language spells designed to open our eyes, open our doors and welcome us into a bigger world, one of possibilities we may never have dared to dream of. This is why poetry can be dangerous as well as necessary. Because we may never be the same again after reading a poem that happens to speak to our own life directly.”

What Canadian poem has spoken to your own life directly, such that you have never forgotten it?

Use the comments field below to tell us the name of the poem and the poet, type in a verse or two of the poem so everybody can check it out, then say why you love it/chose this selection. You’ll be entered three times (yup, 3x) into our To the Core Poetry Contest (#readcdn #poetry). We will draw five winners from the pool of entries at the end of the month, and each winner will win one of five prize packages of …

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To the Core's Exciting Poetry Prizes!

49th Shelf's To the Core contest was a joy to run and to read; it featured selections from notable Canadian authors like Cathy Marie Buchanan and Miranda Hill as well as inspired choices from avid 49th Shelf community readers. To the Core submissions together formed a quiet, powerful testament to the paradox of good poetry: abundance delivered through spareness. Contributors wrote eloquently about the profound effect these snippets of words have had on their lives:

  • Kaarina Mickalson, who chose a verse from "elbow jab" by Rita Wong, wrote: "I had no idea that anyone could put into words that heart wrenching feeling I had for my hometown."
  • Jen Selk, who chose something from Joe Cummings' "Hunting Season," wrote: "I don't know why this affects me, exactly, but somehow, the image of the bear stripped of its fur has stayed with me, and I find myself thinking of it from time to time, years later."
  • Jennifer Dawson, who chose a bit from from Sonnet L'Abbé's "LOVE," wrote, "when i read poems i am always paying attention to how my body feels when i am reading."
  • Sanchuri Sur, who chose a stanza from "thirsty" by Dionne Brand, wrote, "I love all of Brand's poems for being visceral, but this one in particular touches a chord in my previously broken heart."

Many others provided wonderful thoughts about how their poetry choice for the contest touched—or walloped—them in a way they've never forgotten. You can read their contributions in the comments field beneath the To the Core …

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Enter to Win a Collection of the 2013 Trillium Award Finalists

The contenders for Ontario's 2013 Trillium Award—Ontario's leading literature award, with past winners including including Margaret Atwood, Michael Ondaatje, Timothy Findley, and Anne Michaels—are formidable.

Any one of these books would demand top billing on your nightstand and an indulgent evening or two in to take them in, but the Ontario Media Development Corporation has given us permission to post a contest today in which the winner will receive the entire English-language 2013 shortlist; please see the full list here with all the details on the books. You just need to guess which finalist will win the award!

Just click on the "Pick a Winner, Be a Winner" tab in the top, right-hand corner of this page. Click on that tab to open the poll and enter to win. The contest closes at 5:00 pm ET, Tuesday, June 18.

We will draw for the winner June 19, and announce him/her shortly after that. Good luck!

NB: For those in Toronto, several of the shortlisted authors will be reading on the evening of June 17, 2013, at the Bram & Bluma Appel Salon, Toronto Reference Library, 789 Yonge Street. There is no admission fee or RSVP required to attend—it is first come, first seated. Doors will open to the public at 6:30 pm, and the readings will commence at 7:00 pm. Please contact for further information.

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The Randomizer

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