Off the Page

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

Latest Blog Posts
The Chat with Richard Van Camp

The Chat with Richard Van Camp

By Trevor Corkum

Author Richard Van Camp is a celebrated and beloved storyteller who has worked across many genres. His latest offering, …

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Book Cover In Praise of Retreat

Why We All Need Breathing Space

By Kirsteen MacLeod

"Retreat is an adventure, and it involves uncertainty. Whether we go to the quiet woods to rest or make art, walk a pilg …

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Book Cover What the Kite Saw

What the Kite Saw: Stories of Children and Crisis

By Anne Laurel Carter

"Children have their own unique ways of facing a crisis. Yes, they need protecting, but they are also resilient. They ha …

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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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Notes From a Children's Librarian: Enviro Fiction Picks

Book Cover Complete Adventures of the Mole Sisters

Our resident Children's Librarian Julie Booker brings us her best picks from the stacks.

When I start to feel anxiety regarding the environment I like to quote the Mole Sisters: “Sometimes it’s important to do nothing.” "Nothing" involves being open to the natural world and, for the Mole gals, curiosity always leads to serendipity. It’s the perfect message for a five-year-old. Like the time the rain kerplunks into the siblings’ burrow creating a gleeful spa-like puddle. Most days, though, the sisters venture out, turning right “instead of always going left” and end up making a kite from dandelion stalks or swings from two blue eggshells. Or they stumble upon what look like the caves of Lascaux, as in the final story of The Complete Adventures of The Mole Sisters. The best way to appreciate Roslyn Schwartz’s Mole Sisters is to read the entire collection.

Beneath the Bridge by Hazel Hutchins works for the eight to nine-year-old crowd.  A paper boat gets launched in a forest stream by a small boy. Each page invites a kind of Where’s-Wald …

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Books for Earth Day

A round-up of fantastic books for readers of all ages and across genres, about nature, ecology, and conservation. 

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Between Breaths, by Robert Chafe

About the book: Jon Lien was once a respected researcher and a risk-taker, swimming into dangerous waters to save whales and the fishing gear they were trapped in. But now Jon’s confined to land, living his last years in a wheelchair with brain damage after an accident and illness.

The man who rescued over 500 whales around the world stretches his mind in memories of release and salvation. His powerful story swims backward through time, as he goes from worrying his wife and frustrating his friend, to being a reckless starter and adventurer, to lecturing university classes, to his very first encounter with a whale.

Robert Chafe crafts a raw portrayal of the true story of Dr. Jon Lien, Newfoundland’s “Whale Man,” into a tale of perseverance, control, and compassion.

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Landscape into Eco Art: Articulations of Nature Since the '60s, by Mark Cheetham

About the book: Dedicated to an articulation of the ear …

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8 Wide-Ranging Poetry Books from Alberta

Alice Major’s 11th collection, Welcome to the Anthropocene, continues her long engagement with science and poetry and explores our human impact on the planet. Here she offers a selection of recent books by her fellow Albertan poets.

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Alberta’s poetry is as varied as its landscape and these books offer a sample of the territory. There are so many reasons to enjoy these writers: some grab you by the throat with their subject matter. Some are about ordinary life, written in a way that makes you think about the biggest questions. 

Some writers turn language upside down and shake it until everything falls out of the pockets, making you pause and think about what words are and what they do. And some are simply appealing—humorous, observant, easy-to-read.

These are only eight of more than two dozen poetry collections published last year by writers across the province. Among them, I hope you’ll find at least one corner of our poetry landscape that you want to explore. 

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This Wound is a World, by Billy-Ray Belcourt

This book is a stunning debut. Chosen …

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Reading Beyond Earth Day

Happy Earth Day! These books celebrate nature and the wonders of the world around us, underlining why it matters so much that we take care of what we've got. 

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Birds, by Robert Bateman and Kathryn Dean

About the book: At a time when bird species are disappearing rapidly, the poignant beauty of Robert Bateman's paintings is more urgent than ever. It reminds us why Bateman was compelled to study and paint his subjects and why we must work to secure their futures.

Bateman has sketched and painted bird life in every corner of the globe. His special relationship with some of the planet's most beautiful and fascinating creatures is captured here in an elegant volume that will appeal to bird lovers and art lovers alike.

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Cleaner, Greener, Healthier: A Prescription for Stronger Canadian Environmental Laws and Policies, by David R. Boyd

About the book: In Cleaner, Greener, Healthier, David R. Boyd sets out to remedy Canada’s environmental health problems. He begins by assessing the environmental burden of disease, identifies its unequal distribution, and est …

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Launchpad: A Forest in the City, by Andrea Curtis

Launchpad Logo

This spring we've made it our mission (even more than usual) to celebrate new releases in the wake of cancelled launch parties, book festivals, and reading series. With 49th Shelf Launchpad, we're holding virtual launch parties here on our platform complete with witty banter, great insight, and short and snappy readings to give you a taste of the books on offer. You can request these books from your local library, get them as e-books or audio books, order them from your local indie bookseller if they're delivering, buy them direct from the publisher or from online retailers.

Today it's Earth Day, and we're launching A Forest in the City, by Andrea Curtis and Pierre Pratt, a book which "imagines a city draped in green."

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The Elevator Pitch. Tell us about your book in a sentence.

It’s a lushly illustrated kids’ nonfiction picture book that looks at the many benefits trees bring to cities and the challenges they face growing in a harsh urban environment.  

Describe your ideal reader.

Lives in a city and loves to dig in the soil, and roll in the gra …

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