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

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A Taster: Spring 2021 Nonfiction Preview

By 49th Shelf Staff

Life stories, family, baseball, and retreat. These highlight the nonfiction we're most looking forward to this spring. 

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ICYMI: Don't Miss These Beauties

ICYMI: Don't Miss These Beauties

By Kiley Turner

The pandemic has wreaked havoc on our attention spans, making it possible to miss really great fiction. These books caug …

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Book Cover Small Courage

Small Courage: Parenting Memoirs

By Jane Byers

A recommended reading list by Jane Byers, whose new queer parenting memoir is out now.

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The Chat with Kimiko Tobimatsu

The Chat with Kimiko Tobimatsu

By Trevor Corkum

Author Kimiko Tobimatsu and illustrator Keet Geniza have teamed up to create Kimiko Does Cancer, a timely graphic memoir …

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Book Cover Best Canadian Poetry 2020

A Record of Literary History: Best Canadian Poetry 2020

By Marilyn Dumont

An excerpt from Marilyn Dumont's introduction to BEST CANADIAN POETRY 2020.

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Book Cover Book of Donair

The Donair: Canada's Official Food?

By Lindsay Wickstrom

Excerpt from BOOK OF DONAIR explores how a bitter rivalry between Halifax and Edmonton helped propel the donair to be de …

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Book Cover My Ocean is Blue

Notes From a Children's Librarian: Questions, Questions

By Julie Booker

Great picture books that engage with questions and encourage readers to think about answers.

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Book Cover Gutter Child

Most Anticipated: Our 2021 Spring Fiction Preview

By 49thShelf Staff

Exciting debuts, and new releases by Christy Ann Conlin, Pasha Malla, Eva Stachniak, Jael Richardson, and more.

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Book Cover Better Luck Next Time

Patriarchy Lies: Women Are Funny

By Kate Hilton

A funny woman reading list by the author of new novel Better Luck Next Time.

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 The Chat with Eve Lazarus

The Chat with Eve Lazarus

By Trevor Corkum

Eve Lazarus has drawn back the curtain on some of Vancouver’s secret places. Vancouver Exposed: Searching for the City …

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Kathleen Winter: Books that Made me Laugh out Loud in Public

Read Kathleen Winter's reading list at Canadian Bookshelf

Kathleen Winter has written dramatic and documentary scripts for Sesame Street and CBC Television. Her first collection of short stories, boYs, was the winner of both the Winterset Award and the 2006 Metcalfe-Rooke Award. Her novel Annabel was shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize, the 2010 Governer General's Awards, the 2011 Orange Prize, and won the Atlantic Fiction Prize. A long-time resident of St. John's, Newfoundland, she now lives in Montreal.

Here are six books that have made me laugh out loud on buses, in the metro, and in public waiting rooms. They are books that have rendered me helpless with teary-eyed mirth; books that have made me snort among strangers:

 

 

 

The Fearsome Particles on Kathleen Winter's reading list

The Fearsome Particles by Trevor Cole: I found this book so immaculately written, the language so crystalline, that for me it hummed with intelligence and became a sanctuary from the world’s inane moments as I read. I admired Cole’s ability to repeatedly plant in the story a seemingly innocuous seed which grows underground and bursts o …

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What's YOUR Canadian bookshelf, Laura Penny?

Laura Penny

"What's YOUR Canadian bookshelf?" turns the spotlight on the shelf-lives of extraordinary ordinary Canadians. The feature begins with Laura Penny, author of Your Call is Important to Us and More Money Than Brains. Laura Penny has a PhD in Comparative Literature, a MA in Theory and Criticism, and a BA in Contemporary Studies and English. She has worked as a bookstore clerk, a student activist, a union organizer, a university instructor, and her writing has appeared in the Globe and Mail, the National Post, Saturday Night, and Toronto Life. She lives in Halifax, where she teaches at Mount Saint Vincent University.

I read grossbuckets for both my jobs. My professor gig requires I read and re-read a lot of great stuff and then enjoy heaps of student interpretations thereof. Writing non-fiction requires I plough through piles of research and reports and news, horrible news. Even though my work sometimes makes me go glue-eyed, I still unwind from reading by reading. I dig celebrity junk food books: Keith Richards, Tina Fey and Jay-Z all showed me a good time, in that order. I also love short stuff. Happily, Canada has a number of exceedingly talented writers who are great at packing maximum punch into minimal pages. Since I don't want to be a blog hog—and frankly, lit …

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The Funny Books Lit Wish List

This week we're talking funny books: what would you put on the list for the reader who likes a laugh or two? Of course, "funny" is a relative term, but that's the charm of this exercise really. To start off, we asked a few Canadian authors for their funny books picks, and we'd welcome your suggestions as well.

Sussex Drive by Linda Svendsen, selected by Terry Fallis, whose novel The Best Laid Plans won the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour in 2008. Fallis' latest book is Up and Down. Fallis' endorsement reads on the back of the book as follows: “In Sussex Drive, Linda Svendsen takes us deep behind the lines of Ottawa’s politics, polls and pomp, and into the lives of Canada’s two most powerful women. By turns shocking, funny, sizzling and illuminating, this story is brilliantly written with an unnerving authenticity that makes it seem all too real. You’re going to want to read this.”

About the book: Torn from the headlines, Sussex Drive is a rollicking, cheeky, alternate history of big-ticket political items in Canada told from the perspectives of Becky Leggatt (the sublimely capable and manipulative wife of a hard-right Conservative prime minister) and just a wink away at Rideau Hall, Lise Lavoie (the wildly exotic and unlikely immigrant Governor General) …

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Novelist Ali Bryan on Gender-Neutral Domestic Humour

Ali Bryan, author of Roost (Freehand Books).

Working in the space "hilarity and humiliation" (Todd Babiak), Roost (Freehand Books), by Ali Bryan is about family tragedy and the moments for which we hadn't planned. Roost plays with the absurd nature of forced transition, resulting in a truly laugh-out-loud debut novel, something The Toronto Star picked up on calling Bryan an "amusing writer who has mastered the voice of the self-deprecating female, amusing without being annoying."

We contacted Bryan for comment, and to ask the question, is domestic humour a many-gendered thing?

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Julie Wilson: Let's start with The Toronto Star quote. I read it and had a kind of knee-jerk reaction. Were they commenting on gender? Domestic narratives? Writers who pull from life?

First, how does humour fit into your life?

Ali Bryan: I’m fascinated by how laughter tends to evolve from a simple involuntary reaction—a baby playing peek-a-boo—to a complex coping mechanism. Charlie Chaplin said “laughter is the tonic, the relief the surcease for pain.” I love the notion of laughter as tonic. Something wet and consumable and physical. It’s hot yoga for your mental and emotional junk drawer.

Personally, I use humor as a vice to cope with the everyday. Baby spitting up milk puke on husband’s side of the bed is made funny b …

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Eukrates’ Guide to Wining and Dining in Athens, by Karen Dudley

Corey Mintz may have a few pearls of wisdom when it comes to entertaining guests in 2013, but would he know what to do in Ancient Athens? Thankfully, none of us need go ignorant now that Karen Dudley is sharing Eukrates' Five Quick Tips for Hosts, complete with recommended—and edible—sex toys for bored women-folk.

Karen's genre-defying Food for the Gods, an historical fantasy novel set in ancient Athens, has been nominated for an Aurora Award (for science fiction and fantasy), a Bony Blithe Award (for humorous mystery), a Mary Scorer Award (for best book by a Manitoba publisher), and a High Plains Book Award for best culinary book. The sequel, Kraken Bake, is forthcoming in 2014.

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Ensure your dinner party is a success by following these Five Quick Tips for Hosts:

1. Hire the best foreign chef you can afford for your symposion. In some circles it has become common practice to demand that a cook and his slaves eat before they arrive so you do not have to bear the expense of feeding them. Although some find this behaviour acceptable, it is, in fact, niggardly and vulgar. By offering to feed the cook and his retinue, you will, in addition to appearing magnanimous, secure his gratitude and through this obtain a vastly superior meal for your special dinner party. …

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