Off the Page

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

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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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Most Anticipated: 2019 Fall Fiction Preview

Get ready to have your TBR lists grow! These are the novels, story collections, and drama that readers will be loving in the second half of 2019. 


Nur Abdi's first novel is The Somali Camel Boy (September), which is about a young man who tries to escape Somalia's clan culture by fleeing to Toronto. Night of Power (August), by Anar Ali, is a portrait of a Muslim family—from the heady days in Uganda to hard times in a new country and the tragic accident that forces them to confront the ghosts of the past. Wayne Arthurson's new mystery is The Red Chesterfield (October), a novel that upends the tropes and traditions of crime fiction while asking how far one person is willing to go to solve a crime, be it murder or the abandonment of a piece of furniture. Samantha Bailey's debut novel is Woman on the Edge (November), about a moment on the subway platform that changes two women’s lives forever. In Elevator Pitch (September), a chilling new thriller from blockbuster author Linwood Barclay, one too many freak “accidents” force residents in New York to wonder if they’re being targeted—and by whom. Set in the throes of a bone-chilling Edmonton winter, comedian Carolyn Bennett's Please Stand By (October) lays to waste CanCon, the east-west divide, and secret …

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Most Anticipated: 2019 Fall Poetry Preview

Our fall preview continues with poetry!


Poet and intermedia artist Oana Avasilichioaei’s follow-up to Limbinal is Eight-Track (November), a transliterary exploration composed of eight “tracks” plus two bonus tracks, each of which explores one of the various meanings of the word “track”: musical track, a physical path, marks left by a person or animal, speech tracking, animal and human tracking, and systems of surveillance. The National Gallery (September), Jonathan Ball’s fourth poetry book and his first in seven years, swirls chaos and confession together, and at the book’s heart is a question: Why create art? Whether calling a tree “an anthology of leaves” or describing time as “a Fisher-Price View Master of ‘first kisses’ and ‘no return’ policies,” Chris Banks approaches writing as if anything might make for alarming, strange, and dizzying verse in Midlife Action Figure (September). 

Book Cover NDN coping Mechanisms

Building on the dreamy emotional landscapes she plumbed in If I Were in a Cage I’d Reach Out for You, Adèle Barclay navigates even …

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Shelf Talkers: Indie Booksellers' Fall 2019 Picks

Weeks like this – the transition between seasons – serve as a strong reminder of just how huge and far-flung this country truly is. And no, I’m not talking about the federal election campaigning.

As I write, meteorologists are predicting heavy snow for parts of the prairies. Meanwhile, the temperature is in the twenties in Toronto, it’s twelve degrees in St. John’s, four degrees in Yellowknife, and fourteen degrees outside my front door in Victoria.

You might be expecting something pithy right now, something like “thankfully, we’re united in our love of books.” While this might be true – I certainly think it is – I’m reminded regularly through this column just how disparate Canadians are as readers. There’s no better reflection of this than the choices of the independent booksellers of the Shelf Talkers panel. They're recommending fiction and nonfiction, books for adults and books for kids, books about caves and trees, art and literature, current events and timeless novels of connection; something for everyone, really.

Sometime soon, before the snow hits, you’d be well-advised to make your way to your local independent bookstore and ask your favourite bookseller what they’re reading; you never know what they might have in store. In the meantime, here are some of their favourite books of the year.


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