Off the Page

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

Latest Blog Posts
Book Cover Constant Nobody

Courage from the Outliers

By Michelle Butler Hallett

A recommended reading list by the author of new novel Constant Nobody.

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The Chat with Krista Foss

The Chat with Krista Foss

By Trevor Corkum

With Half Life (McClelland & Stewart), Krista Foss has delivered a spectacular sophomore novel, one that entangles compl …

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Book Cover The Memory Collectors

8 Books for Fans of Fabulism

By Kim Neville

A recommended reading list by Kim Neville, whose debut novel is The Memory Collectors.

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Book Cover The Octopus Has Three Hearts

Exciting Fiction to Read This Spring

By Kerry Clare

New books by Camilla Gibb, Marissa Stapley, Wayne Grady, Uzma Jalaluddin, and more! Sme of the novels and short fiction …

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Book Cover Outside You Notice

New Picture Books for Spring

By Kerry Clare

A selection of gorgeous new picture books celebrating new life, hope, nature, and mindfulness.

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Book Cover Half Life

She Blinded Me With Science

By Krista Foss

When wonder and inquiry are subverted and held up to the light by these writers, the results are often uncomfortable, al …

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Book Cover Fairy Science

Notes from a Children's Librarian: Celebrating STEM

By Julie Booker

This list includes all kinds of STEM’ers—science enthusiasts, builders, inventors, real life engineers—in both fic …

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Book Cover The Hill

Pairs Well: Ali Bryan's Awesome YA Reading List

By Ali Bryan

Celebrated novelist Bryan shares great titles to complement her latest book.

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Book Cover Glorious Birds

Why Is Harold and Maude Considered a Cult Film?

By Heidi Greco

The critic Roger Ebert dismissed it with a measly one and a half stars. Variety claimed that “It has all the fun and g …

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Book Cover New Girl in Little Cove

The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Reader

By Damhnait Monaghan

An expat reading list by the author of new book New Girl in Little Cove

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Patriarchy Lies: Women Are Funny

Book Cover Better Luck Next Time

Kate Hilton's latest novel is Better Luck Next Time, a story that puts the comedy in "divorce comedy" and of which Marissa Stapley writes, "Kate Hilton’s writing reminds me of Nora Ephron‘s work: it’s laugh-out-loud funny, with startling observations about life, love, family and reinvention at any age."

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Patriarchy tells so many lies that it’s hardly a sport to single one of them out for special attention. Let me do it anyway: Women are funny. And when they set their minds to writing comedy—especially about the intricate web of relationships that we call a family—they do it very well. (Perhaps it is the feminist undercurrent in women’s comedy that the patriarchy finds unfunny? Just a thought.) Today we celebrate the women of Canadian humour writing, and their perfectly dysfunctional families.

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Ayesha at Last, by Uzma Jalaluddin

Dysfunctional Family: Ayesha Shamsi is an aspiring poet and substitute teacher who lives with her widowed mother, her brother, and her grandparents—unmarried and seen by many in her conservative Muslim community a …

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Pairs Well: Ali Bryan's Awesome YA Reading List

Book Cover the Hill

The Hill is a feminist YA dystopia and something new and different from Ali Bryan, celebrated author of Roost and The Figgs. According to Booklist, The Hill "hits all the right apocalyptic notes" and is "a great pick for forward-thinking feminist teens."

In this recommended reading list, Bryan shares other great titles to complement her novel.

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Dystopian Worlds & Wayward Girls

Book Cover the Marrow Thieves

The Marrow Thieves, by Cherie Dimaline

Dimaline single-handedly flips the dystopia genre on its head with her runaway hit, The Marrow Thieves, a gritty coming-of-age story in which Indigenous people are hunted for their dream-containing, world-saving bone marrow in a landscape ravaged by climate collapse and madness. A deftly woven and brutal tale of colonialism and environmental neglect but also of community, culture, resilience and hope. Inventive, rich, important.

Pairs well with Doritos and activism.

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Fierce: The Secret Life of Miss Freeman

Book Cover Fierce

Fierce: Women Who Shaped Canada, written by Lisa Dalrymple with illustrations by Willow Dawson, is a collection of fascinating biographical stories about ten women who've shaped the story of Canada. "Often relegated to the sidelines of history, the women highlighted in this book were performed feats that most people would never even dream of. You may not know their names now, but after reading their stories, you won’t soon forget them." This book is geared toward middle-grade readers, but readers of all ages will find much to discover in its pages. 

We're excited to share an excerpt from the story of Alice Freeman, the Toronto school teacher who led a double life...

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Alice Freeman

February 1888 Toronto, Ontario

Though the students at Ryerson School loved Miss Freeman, none of them knew her secret. At the end of the day, when they went home to their chores and their beds, she became Faith Fenton, investigative reporter for the Empire newspaper in Toronto, Ontario. She spent her nights doing things that surely no teacher would do—like interviewing famous actresses or visiting jails and homeless shelters, before walking home alone down dark city streets in the early hours of the morning. By the time her students arrived back at school, Miss Freeman was standing …

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Reading to Smash the Patriarchy

At 49th Shelf, we always make a thing of International Woman's Day—previous posts for the occasion include Everyday Is Malala Day, Read the 30 Women Who Ruled Canadian History, Angela Sterritt on The Legacy of Violence Against Indigenous Women in Canada, and Sally Armstrong on The Ascent of Women. But this year more than ever before, a day to challenge the system and raise up women feels incredibly necessary—and like not nearly enough. 

And so to that end, we've enlisted Erin Wunker, author of Notes From a Feminist Killjoy, to recommend some essential reading for patriarchy smashing, works of poetry that are challenging in all senses of the word.  

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As my friend Tanis MacDonald has written, every time I talk about Canadian poetry I feel I am doing something radical. This is even more true when I talk about poetry written by women and women-identifying people writing in the context of Canada. The titles I’ve chosen are challenging. Indeed, they are challenging insofar as they shake at the structures of what is in service of what might be. They are, to me, hopeful without turning away from inequity and pain. They are radical in their enactments of gender politics and poetics. They are working to make us better readers, these books. They breathe life into my …

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