Off the Page

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

Latest Blog Posts
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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11 Books that Write the World

Books can take you places, and sometimes those places aren't even metaphorical. Travel to Spain, New Mexico, Mozambique, Vietnam, Italy, India, Goa, Israel, Lebanon, Lithuania, and Nepal through the pages of these remarkable works of fiction. 

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Proof I Was Here, by Becky Blake

About the book: What's the point of trying to leave a mark when everything disappears? This question is at the heart of Proof I Was Here, a novel that tells the picaresque coming-of-age story of a young thief and aspiring artist who attempts to reboot her life on the streets of Barcelona after an unexpected breakup. Hailing from Toronto, where she has criminal charges waiting, Niki is outside of Canada for the first time. The pickpockets, squatters and graffiti artists she meets challenge her to reassess her ideas about luck and art. With the help of a passionate Catalan separatist who dreams of building a new country from the ground up, Niki realizes that starting her life over from scratch could be an opportunity—if she can just find a way to clear her name.

Why we're taking notice: This is Barcelona like you've never seen it in a tourist guidebook. In her debut novel, Blake paints a rich and colourful view of the city.  

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Let's Get Out of This Town: Literary Travel

Journey through place and time with this collection of new and forthcoming travel books, spotlighting some of the best travel writing and a few of the most amazing places on earth.

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Our Trip Around the World, by Renate Belczyk (Coming in September)

About the book: A spirited 1950s travelogue that takes the reader around the world during a time when two independent young women travelling alone was considered almost revolutionary.

Renate Belczyk was born in Dresden, Germany, in 1932. When she was three years old her family moved to Berlin, where they settled into a small apartment building on the outskirts of the city. It was in this building that she met another adventurous girl, Sigrid, with whom she would travel around the world as young women after the Second World War.

Having spent most of their childhood and teenage years climbing trees, swimming, cycling, hiking, and adventuring around Germany the two young women attended a talk by the German writer Heinrich Böll.

During his presentation the renowned author suggested to the crowd that they all travel to different countries and make friends with the locals whenever they could, as this would help prevent another war. Renate and Sigrid took this advice to heart, and from that point their adventures together to …

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A Grateful, Pay-it-Forward Diverse Booklist

December 3 is International Day of Disabled Persons, and we're proud to be marking this day with a recommended reading list by one of CanLit's foremost disability activists, Dorothy Ellen Palmer, whose latest book is the memoir Falling For Myself. An underlying message of this powerful, fierce, and often funny book is the importance of solidarity, allyship, and community, which Palmer celebrates properly here in the collection of authors and books that she's assembled.

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One of the things that continually feeds me as a reader is the work of other authors I respect, those who continue to share, collaborate, and produce fabulous, thought-provoking diverse books, often will little thanks. With this list I want to thank and boost the books I loved recently published by those authors who kindly took time from their working days to write a blurb for my memoir, Falling for Myself. They reflect the best of the craft and community of CanLit.

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All Inclusive, by Farzana Doctor

About the book: A story about one all-inclusive resort, the ghost of an unknown fat …

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11 Books that Write the World

These books take their readers beyond Canadian borders to portray the rich lands, cultures, and adventures that can be discovered in other parts of the world, as well as the devastation caused by wars and other conflicts. Travel with these Canadian writers to Thailand, Syria, Rwanda, Bali, Palestine, Turkey, Iran, and other places, letting these perspectives inform your own sense of home. 

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Homes: A Refugee Story, by Abu Bakr al Rabeeah & Winnie Yeung

About the book: In 2010, the al Rabeeah family left their home in Iraq in hope of a safer life. They moved to Homs, in Syria—just before the Syrian civil war broke out.

Abu Bakr, one of eight children, was ten years old when the violence began on the streets around him: car bombings, attacks on his mosque and school, firebombs late at night. Homes tells of the strange juxtapositions of growing up in a war zone: horrific, unimaginable events punctuated by normalcy—soccer, cousins, video games, friends.

Homes is the remarkable true story of how a young boy emerged from a war zone—and found safety in Canada—with a passion for sharing his story and telling the world what is truly happening in Syria. As told to her by Abu Bakr al Rabeeah, writer Winnie Yeung has crafted a heartbreaking, hopeful, and urgently nece …

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EXCLUSIVE PODCAST: In Conversation With Marina Endicott (The IFOA Edition)

Marina Endicott, author of Good to a Fault and The Little Shadows.

I first met Marina Endicott at the unveiling of the 2010 Canada Reads during my stint as online guest host of the CBC Book Club. We clicked immediately. She's easy with a laugh, tells a great story and is a gracious conversationalist. So, it was a pleasure to go another round with this grand dame in a hotel room overlooking the Toronto harbour while she's in town for the 2011 International Festival of Authors.

Grab a cuppa, because we yammer on for about twenty (glorious and action-packed) minutes. Topics covered include: youthful self-awareness, family theatre productions, The Partridge Family and the "matter" of literary awards. It all ends with a rousing melodramatic reading from Marina's latest novel The Little Shadows (Doubleday Canada), a particular treat because it's a passage she's never performed in front of an audience.

We begin our scene mid-conversation. Two women appear to be discussing death and dragonflies. Let's listen in, shall we?

Marina Endicott has several appearances left on her IFOA schedule. See below for all details.

Thursday, October 27, 8:00 p.m.
Fleck, A Verse Comedy
The IFOA hosts a reading of Fleck, A Verse Comedy featuring Linwood Barclay, Alan Bissett, Marina Endicott, Jim Fleck, Brian Francis, Rodge Glass, C.C. Humphreys, Helen Hum …

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