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

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book cover footlights

2020 Poetry Delights

By Pearl Pirie

A list by the author of new collection footlights. These books turn and explore, question and listen.

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The Chat with Zsuzsi Gartner

The Chat with Zsuzsi Gartner

By Trevor Corkum

Zsuzsi Gartner’s debut novel, The Beguiling (Hamish Hamilton), is a stunner. It was a finalist for this year’s Write …

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Book Cover Loss Lake

Launchpad: LOSS LAKE, by Amber Cowie

By Kerry Clare

"Sentence by gorgeous sentence, Cowie reveals an intricately woven, powerful plot, unveiling the depths of the character …

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Hope Matters

25 Reasons to be Hopeful

By Kerry Clare

The following books are infused with hope—that what we do and who we are really matters, that second chances are possi …

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Book Cover Spend It

Notes From a Children's Librarian: Money Money Money

By Julie Booker

Financial literacy is part of the new math curriculum for grades 4-6. But why not start even sooner, as young as kinderg …

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Book Cover You Are Eating an Orange. You Are Naked.

Launchpad: YOU ARE EATING AN ORANGE. YOU ARE NAKED. by Sheung-King

By Kerry Clare

"This novel ...gives the cold shoulder to the dominant gaze and its demands to control the Asian body, carving out a thr …

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Book Cover The Way Home

Books for University Press Week

By Clare Hitchens

“Raise UP” is a particularly apt theme in a time when information moves at faster speeds than ever before across a m …

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Shelf Talkers: Indie Booksellers Get Us Through the End of the Year

Shelf Talkers: Indie Booksellers Get Us Through the End of the Year

By Robert J. Wiersema

To mark the passing of the year, we’ve gathered the independent booksellers of the Shelf Talkers fellowship – the st …

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Book Cover Four Umbrellas

Launchpad: FOUR UMBRELLAS, by June Hutton and Tony Wanless

By Kerry Clare

"Our goal from the outset was to write a book in which the person with Alzheimer’s has a place on the page, too."

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Book Cover The Crooked Thing

Stories that Excavate the Underworld

By Mary MacDonald

A recommended reading list by the author of new story collection The Crooked Thing.

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Megan Ogilvie Dishes on the Hidden Horrors in Fast Food and How to Combat Them

Menu Confidential, by Megan Ogilvie (HarperCollins). (Photo credit: Christopher Campbell.)

Menu Confidential, by Megan Ogilvie, is a book for every Canadian who dines out. One-quarter of Canadians, 8.5 million people, dine out once or twice a week, and almost one million Canadians say they eat at a restaurant every day. While cravings for a greasy burger will sometimes overtake you, the biggest hurdle to making smart choices is a lack of information. Menu Confidential is not a traditional weight-loss book, but a guide to navigating the dining scene.

Julie Wilson: In Menu Confidential, you describe the ideal plate portions as: one-quarter protein, one-quarter grains, and the remainder with fruits and vegetables.

When constructing this book, what portion did you allocate to each of the following: education, shock value, proaction, and self-compassion?

Megan Ogilvie: What a great question! You know, I never overtly set out to divvy up those things. But I did think about each while researching and writing.

Let me try to serve up an answer for you.

I’d say education takes up at least half of the plate. I believe the more you know about anything, the better choices you will make. And that’s what the book is about: helping people become smart diners.

Proaction—or how about empowerment?—would take up one-quarter of the plate. Because once you are armed with …

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Inspire Me Well Offers Tales of Motivation Toward Better Health

Inspire Me Well, by Lisa Belanger and Sarah O'Hara (Insomniac Press, 2012).

Inspire Me Well: Finding Motivation to Take Control of Your Health (Insomniac Press, 2012), by Lisa Belanger, MSc, CEP and Sarah O'Hara, RD, showcases the tales of everyday people who made extraordinary changes to their health and well-being. While making a commitment to run 250 marathons in one year to benefit a beloved charity might seem daunting to the average person, it was an average person who made such a commitment, and you'll meet him, and others, in the pages of Inspire Me Well.

At the turn of each new year, we're surrounded by claims of how to be a better you, how to drop pounds fast and be bikini-ready by March Break. Inspire Me Well boasts a host of tips toward a healthier lifestyle, but at its core is a message of social support and how life-changing experiences are often the precursor to life-changing habits and lives well-lived.

Belanger and O'Hara chat with 49th Shelf about their approach to wellness, how making changes to just one area of your life will automatically (and positively) impact three others (together known as The Big Four), and they offer some tips for how to combat daily stress. You'll also meet Judy, whose story appears in Inspire Me Well, reposted here in excerpt.

Julie Wilson: There are a lot of books in the marketplace that offer a …

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Six Foods to Change Your Life, With Mouth-Watering Recipes

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the power of food

It's one thing to tell people what to do about their health and lifestyle. It's another for an author to apply his advice to himself, lose 40 pounds, say goodbye to depression, and reverse his pre-diabetic diagnosis. Here are six of Adam Hart's top foods from his new book, The Power of Food, along with three recipes that illustrate how to incorporate them into a delicious diet: Pistachio Mango Salsa, Hummus Five Ways, and Warm Quinoa With Beets and Swiss Chard. With the bounty of fresh food we can access in the summer, there's no better time to try them out ...

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1. Pistachios
Pistachios are a great source of protein, fibre, and essential fatty acids (EFAs). Studies have found that EFAs help hair quality and strength so if you’re planning on spending lots of time reading at the beach or cottage this summer, be sure to pack a handful or two of pistachios to help keep your hair looking healthy and strong.

2. Chia Seeds
If you’ve suddenly got the jingle from the Chia Pet commercial stuck in your head than you’re on the right track. It turns out t …

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Talking With Dan Rubinstein About Born to Walk

Dan Rubinstein's Born to Walk is a perfect springtime read, an absorbing book that will awaken your senses to nature and your nature. Rubinstein takes a fascinating look at how the simple act of walking has the power to transform our lives and the world around us.

He talks to us here about great non-fiction, pedestrian surprises, and the perils of reading while walking. 

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49th Shelf: In Born to Walk, your project is huge—a mix of science, sociology, and memoir, crisscrossing continents, and approaches. What other non-fiction books did you have in mind as a template for organizing and synthesizing such a vast amount of information?

Dan Rubinstein: I live and breathe non-fiction, both books and long-form magazine features, but one of the challenges I had when looking for works to emulate is that most narrative non-fiction books, such as Cheryl Strayed’s Wild, involve a single main character on one main journey. Into the WildThe Golden Spruce, and Ballad of the Whiskey Robber by Julian Rubinstein (no relation)—books that I consider to be among the finest of this genre—were not great templates for me. They feature the mix of reportage, personal storytelling, and travelogue that I love. But I wanted to write about a string of characters on a range of differ …

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Notes from a Children's Librarian: Books on Health and Safety

Our Children's Librarian columnist, Julie Booker, brings us a new view from the stacks every month.

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Teaching health to primary grades left me scrambling for resources. But I found the following picture books work great as starting points when discussing safety rules—at the pool, playground, neighbourhood, during a fire, as well as safety regarding allergies, dressing for the weather, sleep and hygiene.

Swimming, Swimming, by Gary Clement, is a fun depiction of the classic song: “…When days are hot/When days are cold/In my swimming pool.” The lyrics provide the framework for Clement’s playful depiction of a day-in-the-life of an avid swimmer meeting his friends at the pool.

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The following four great resources by Jean E. Pendziwol, illustrated by Martine Gourbault, are fun, rhyming stories that teach.

In No Dragons for Tea: Fire Safety for Kids (and Dragons), the girl befriends a dragon at the beach and invites him home where his sneeze starts a fire. A slew of safety rules are addressed throughout the story: stay down low to avoid smoke, ha …

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