Off the Page

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

Latest Blog Posts
Book Cover Salma the Syrian Chef

Notes from a Children’s Librarian: Satisfying Endings

By Julie Booker

How do you create a sense of satisfaction in a story’s finale? The following books pull it off!

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49thShelf Summer Reads

Introducing the 49th Shelf Summer Books List: Part 2

By Kerry Clare

Our summer reads extravaganza continues with PART 2 of our Summer Books List, and once again, each and every title is up …

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Inclusive Learning, Diverse Books: Introducing Top Grade 2021

Inclusive Learning, Diverse Books: Introducing Top Grade 2021

By Spencer Miller

Welcome to the Association for Canadian publisher’s Top Grade: CanLit for the Classroom, a blog and preview video seri …

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Book Cover bread and water

Most Anticipated: Our Fall 2021 Nonfiction Preview

By 49thShelf Staff

New books about everything, including food, beauty, art, travel, singing, healing, grieving, shopping, aging, and so muc …

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Book Cover Unlocking

CanLit Yearning

By Amy LeBlanc

"At the heart of my novella and in each book on this CanLit list is a sense of desire or a yearning (for belonging, iden …

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The Chat with Rev. Dr. Cheri DiNovo

The Chat with Rev. Dr. Cheri DiNovo

By Trevor Corkum

This week we’re in conversation with political trailblazer Rev. Dr. Cheri DiNovo, whose memoir, The Queer Evangelist, …

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Book Cover The Prairie Chicken Dance Tour

Most Anticipated: Our 2021 Fall Fiction Preview

By 49th Shelf Staff

With new books by Miriam Toews, Dawn Dumont, Douglas Coupland, Marie-Renee Lavoie, Omar El Akkad, Zoe Whittall, Trudy Mo …

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Book Cover The Quiet is Loud

Speculative Fiction: Vast and Thrilling

By Samantha Garner

"As a reader and a lightly superstitious human, I can’t deny the pull of the unusual, the not-quite-real. I love books …

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Book Cover Travels in Cuba

Writing with Four Hands

By Marie-Louise Gay and David Homel

"That’s what the Travels series is all about: sending a resourceful, observant, unafraid (well, sometimes a little afr …

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The Chat with GG's Literature Award Winner Anne Carson

The Chat with GG's Literature Award Winner Anne Carson

By Trevor Corkum

“Norma Jeane Baker of Troy leverages a millennia-old story of beauty and war to animate a history of the male gaze and …

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An Excerpt from Condemned to Repeat, by Janice MacDonald

Edmonton mystery author Janice MacDonald is back with Condemned to Repeat, the latest instalment in the Randy Craig Mystery series. For anyone other than Randy Craig, a contract to do archival research and web development for Alberta’s famed Rutherford House should have been a quiet gig. But when she discovers an unsolved mystery linked to Rutherford House in the Alberta Archives and the bodies begin to pile up, Randy can’t help but wonder if her modern-day troubles are linked to the intrigues of the past...

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Stephen Dafoe was not really what I had expected from what Marni had told me about him. First off, since he had been such a child prodigy and local icon, I sort of expected more ego to be emanating from the man. Instead, when I went out to the curb to see if I could help him with his equipment, he introduced himself with a bright smile and a firm handshake.

“I’d love some help. You know, most magicians have assistants just to help schlep equipment. Fishnets and a Vanna White presentation arm are incidental.”

We propped the front door open with one of the bins and began hauling the rest in, straight to the kitchen hall. We were going to have to close one of the public doors for this event, which had already been agreed to when they were negotiatin …

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Kittens in the City

Book Cover Little Yellow House

This month we're looking at books about community and fostering connection, and Carissa Halton's Little Yellow House is a perfect title to start with. In this collection of candid and thoughtful essays inspired by life in Edmonton's inner-city Alberta Avenue neighbourhood, Halton writes about her friends and neighbours, the community institutions that support them, the challenges of city life, home ownership, raising kids, and the tensions of gentrification. It's an illuminating and hopeful book that asks readers to think again about what makes places liveable, and also provides a wonderful glimpse of Jane Jacobs' proverbial sidewalk ballet.

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The first set of kittens Bill ever took in was brought to his attention by a desperate mewing from the blackened garage that slumped behind his six-suite rooming house. The kittens followed Bill to the front of his home where he set them up comfortably under the wooden stairs.

These three kittens were the product of a union between two abandoned cats as they waited patiently for the return of their owners. Bill had noticed the cats’ human family packing up the moving truck and the next day drove away with everything they owned except for their four feline pets lounging on the front porch. They weren’t the only ones aba …

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Jennifer Quist on Edmonton as a Literary City

Jennifer Quist's third novel is The Apocalypse of Morgan Turner, the story of a woman struggling to move on after her sister's brutal murder. It's a novel with an unabashed Edmonton setting—watch the trailer (and the city!) here. In this list, Quist features other Edmonton authors, books, and literary institution, shining a spotlight on a city wholly deserving of all its bookish glory.

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In the legend, Leonard Cohen writes “Sisters of Mercy”—its lyrics and tinkling 1-2-3, 1-2-3 waltz tune—in a single night. It’s an Edmonton night full of snow. I know what the light outside his Jasper Avenue hotel window would have looked like: snow and ice crystals suspended and lit up like gold dust, in the days when streetlights were deep yellow sodium vapor lamps. 

This is Edmonton writing, and it exists even when there is no traveling cosmopolitan poet standing over our beds. It’s set in streetscapes, not farm-scapes. The weather is part of Edmonton writing but it’s outside the hotel glass, opposite stories set in warm rooms of people who “have been where you’re hanging [and] think [we] can see where you’re pinned.” 

Two million of Alberta’s three million residents live in either Calgary or Edmonton, the fourth and fifth largest cities in Canada. The …

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