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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25 Reasons to be Hopeful

In difficult times, sometimes hope is maligned as something frivolous, a symptom of one's inability to engage with reality and look trouble in the face. But of course, the certainty of hopeless is its own kind of limitation. As Rebecca Solnit writes, "To me, the grounds for hope are simply that we don’t know what will happen next, and that the unlikely and the unimaginable transpire quite regularly.”

The following books are infused with hope—that what we do and who we are really matters, that second chances are possible, and so too is a better world.


This is Not the End of Me, by Dakshana Bascaramurty

About the book: Layton Reid was a globe-trotting, risk-taking, sunshine-addicted bachelor—then came a melanoma diagnosis. Cancer startled him out of his arrested development--he returned home to Halifax to work as a wedding photographer—and remission launched him into a new, passionate life as a husband and father-to-be. When the melanoma returned, now at Stage IV, Layton and his family put all their stock into a punishing alternative therapy, hoping for a cure. This Is Not the End of Me recounts Layton's three-year journey as he tried desperately to stay alive for his young son, Finn, and then found purpose in preparing Finn for a world without him.

Wit …

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The Chat: Trevor Corkum Interviews Trevor Cole


This week on The Chat, I’m thrilled to speak to author Trevor Cole, whose complex and heart-tugging novel Hope Makes Love explores issues of love, trauma, and the lengths we will go to make amends for our past.

Hope Makes Love tells the story of Zep Baker, a former major league baseball player who believes all he needs to put his life back on track is to revive his marriage by convincing his wife to return to Tampa with their daughter. In order to do so, he enlists the expertise of Hope, a neuroscience researcher. Hope, meanwhile, is struggling with a traumatic past and relationship issues of her own. The novel follows both characters as they travel into new and uncertain emotional terrain.

Trevor_Cole - Author Photo

Trevor Cole has won international acclaim for his fiction and journalism. His first two novels—Norman Bray in the Performance of His Life and The Fearsome Particles—were each shortlisted for the Governor General’s Literary Award and longlisted for the Dublin International IMPAC Literary Award. His third novel, Practical Jean, published in Canada, the US and …

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Hope Matters: Turning Toward Solutions and Away From Doom

But there are bats

who catch fish

and slime molds that sing

and ancient Greenland sharks

who don’t even reach sexual maturity

until they are 150 years old.


This is what I want to say

to those who believe

the Earth is already doomed:


Just look

at the capacity

of this

gloriously complex planet


I wrote this book for you—and for the people you love who believe the world is screwed.

I suspect you know who I mean—the ones brave enough to acknowledge the existential angst of living and working through a planetary emergency. We see it in students who appear to have everything going for them yet are so desensitized by environmental despair, they are simply done with feeling; or the ones so saturated with doom-and-gloom messages, they honestly believe no future exists. We hear it in adults grieving for the world their children will live in. We watch it echo around the world through the voices of the million and a half students joining Greta Thunberg in school strikes against climate change.

Whenever I speak about environmental solutions and positive global conservation trends, I encounter people so hungry for hope, they line up to talk to me. They follow up with long, thoughtful emails telling me they honestly believe the state of the planet is past the point of no return. They …

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The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen in Comic Book History

Book Cover Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen

Hope Nicholson's newest project is The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen, an engaging and gorgeous catalogue of comic book heroines though the ages. Hope, author of The Secret Lives of Geek Girls and founder of Bedside Press, specializing in archival comics collections, is pretty spectacular herself, and we relished the opportunity to ask her a little more about this fascinating book. 


49th Shelf: It seems like superwomen are having a moment, what with the success of Supergirl and the Jessica Jones series, the awesomeness of reboots like Ms. Marvel, and excitement about the forthcoming Wonder Woman film. But your book posits that there exists an incredible history of powerful female heroes that it lesser known. So what do you think is particular about what’s happening right now?

Hope Nicholson: I think there are a lot of great things happening right now for female characters! Definitely we've never had as intense a cross-platform saturation as exists today in this really overwhelming presence of comic-book-related TV shows and movies, and we are seeing more female characters pop up as leading characters in these programs. Another great thing that is happening is an awareness that we need a lot of female characters from many different walks of life, to con …

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