Off the Page

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

Latest Blog Posts
Book Cover TreeTalk

TreeTalk-ing or, "How I Became a Serial Poetry Monogamist"

By Ariel Gordon

"I knew I wanted to do more than just sit in a booth, eating chicken and waffles, and writing. It had to do something th …

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Book Cover The Orange Shirt Story

Books for Orange Shirt Day

By Julie Booker

Books to connect younger readers with the tragic legacy of Canada's residential schools.

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The Chat with Emily Urquhart

The Chat with Emily Urquhart

By Trevor Corkum

In The Age of Creativity (House of Anansi Press), Emily Urquhart challenges us to reconsider our thinking around artisti …

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Book Cover Noopiming

Launchpad: NOOPIMING, by Leanne Betasamosake Simpson

By Kerry Clare

"This is bold storytelling drawing upon a rich history to present a possible future. Simpson is generously gifting reade …

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Book Cover Brighten the Corner Where You ARe

Fiction We Can't Wait to Read This Fall

By Kerry Clare

29 books that should be on your radar.

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Super September Giveaway!

Super September Giveaway!

By Kiley Turner

Did we call it this because of the alliteration? Maybe, but more because the books up for grabs here are SO GOOD. Enter …

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Book Cover Crosshairs

Launchpad: CROSSHAIRS, by Catherine Hernandez

By Kerry Clare

"Crosshairs asks us what we will do to resist and build a better future when faced with such momentous and dangerous tim …

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The Chat with Bahar Orang

The Chat with Bahar Orang

By Trevor Corkum

Bahar Orang’s Where Things Touch is a stirring, wholly invigorating meditation on beauty and memory. Part prose, part …

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Book Cover Angel Wing Splash Pattern

Launchpad: ANGEL WING SPLASH PATTERN, by Richard Van Camp

By Kerry Clare

"If your heart needs an ever-exploding series of glitter bombs, please read Angel Wing Splash Pattern. We are so proud o …

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Book Cover The Ghost in the House

Launchpad: THE GHOST IN THE HOUSE, by Sara O'Leary

By Kerry Clare

"This beguiling page turner of a novel is a story for all seasons—the seasons of the year, and yes, the seasons of our …

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Kidsbooks' Owner Phyllis Simon on Matching Children Up With the Right Books

Visiting a good children’s bookstore, especially but not only when you have kids of your own, is an instant mood booster and occasion for awe. A combination of impressive stock, ingenious store layout including play/explore areas for kids, and friendly, knowledgeable staff can make such a bookstore a favourite family destination for years—a local and cultural institution.

Vancouver is lucky enough to have Kidsbooks, which former librarian Phyllis Simon opened in 1983 in Kitsilano, and which now includes three locations, an online storefront, and a co-partner, Kelly McKinnon.

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Kidsbooks' lounge area (Kitsilano location)

Kidsbooks is famous for its incredible, elaborate window displays (people still talk about their “Hogwarts” storefront façade that celebrated the release of the fourth HP book) and insightful staff experts who specialize in tracking down exactly the right book for a particular child. This discovery and selection service is an amazingly important service when you consider how one book—or a suite of books—can turn a child onto reading forever, and conversely, how not finding the right reading materials can convince them that they’d rather sleep in an outhouse than curl up with a book.

Canadian Bookshelf asked Kidsbooks’ Phyllis Simon a li …

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Interview with a video wrangler: Jen Knoch, on keeping her city reading

Jen Knoch runs the Keeping it Real Book Club, and Keeps Toronto Reading (in conjunction with the Toronto Public Library’s April campaigns) by curating a series of one-minute video pitches by avid readers for their favourite books. We were interested to discover just how a library patron becomes partner in a literacy campaign, and to find out why Jen can’t get enough of these video book recommendations.

Jennifer Knoch

CB: You've written before about the great relationship you have with the Toronto Public Library. But how did you become their Keep Toronto Reading video wrangler?

JK: I think I just sort of just fell into it. Kismet perhaps? When I came across the Keep Toronto Reading campaign last year I thought it was wonderful, and totally in line with the mandate of my book club-cum-blog, which emphasizes offering passionate recommendations for books you love. I'd just come off doing one-minute video pitches for the CBC for Canada Reads, so I was feeling pretty comfortable with the medium (and with pressuring others into doing using it).

So I decided to try and get enough people to make video recommendations that I could release one a day for all of April. Not long after I declared my intentions, Ab from the TPL got in touch and said they'd like to feature the videos …

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In Conversation With: Tony Burgess

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A few weeks ago, I was sitting on a patio when a gentleman, back lit by an early-summer sun, approached my table to boast that he recognized me from the back of my head. I shaded my eyes, Tony Burgess coming into view. "I recognize you from the front of your head," I (may have) replied, and he settled in with us for the duration of our stay. I quite liked his company. My only other dealings with Tony have come in late hours in the form of Facebook messages that read like non sequiturs. He's a prolific creator across genre and form, a master at drawing discomfort from the reader and one of the more truly interesting characters you'll have the pleasure to meet.

For my first interview as Host of Canadian Bookshelf, I hope you'll enjoy our get-to-know-you banter. I guess it's true that books really are the social object around which readers converse.

Julie Wilson: A friend recently told me of a dating site in which members are asked, alongside other questions, how they feel about horror films. Seems this is a huge signifier in terms of compatibility between prospective mates. Come to think of it, the first time I saw you from afar you were covered in fake blood at the opening party for The Scream in High Park. What's your relationship to violence and gore? Are you les …

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In Conversation With: Suzanne Desrochers (Bride of New France, @penguincanada)

06_22_bride_of_new_france

I met Suzanne Desrochers (Bride of New France, Penguin Group Canada) in a carpool en route to an event in Uxbridge hosted by Blue Heron Books. Suzanne sat in the front. I sat in the back. Over the sweet music remix provided by publicist Barbara Bower, we shouted back and forth about a variety of topics: England. Agents. Babies. On the return trip, we sat together in back, talk turning to, well, England. Agents. Babies. Back in our usual corners, I asked Suzanne if she'd like to expand a bit on some of the comments from the evening's panel: traversing the divide between academic writing and fiction, unveiling previously hidden historical figures, and a day in the life of one writer with kid and another on the way. Hurrah for us, she agreed, and I think you'll enjoy the chat.

Julie Wilson: I recall reading somewhere something to the fact that the longer a scientist works in the field the more likely he or she is to ascribe to one faith or another because there comes a time when one simply cannot reason away every discovery. I recently had the pleasure of seeing you speak on a panel about memoir and family history and this sprang to mind again. All three authors on the panel—you, Camilla Gibb and Susanna Kearsley—come either out of an academic background, in whi …

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In Conversation With: Trevor Cole (Practical Jean, @McClellandBooks)

Trevor Cole

Trevor Cole is the author of three novels. The most recent is Practical Jean, which was short-listed for the Rogers Writer's Trust Fiction Prize and recently won the 2011 Leacock Medal for Humour. (Read an excerpt on our shelf.)

Cole is also the creator of AuthorsAloud.com, a website dedicated to presenting short audio readings by Canadian poets and authors of literary fiction. With over 100 published writers represented on the site, those who know my penchant for podcasting will appreciate how happy I was to have the chance to chat with Trevor about performance, collecting voices and, as it happens, Pop Rocks.

Julie Wilson: AuthorsAloud gathers recordings from Canadian fiction writers and poets. The purpose is both to offer a space to writers in which to perform their work and to introduce readers to authors outside of a retail environment. It's an aural treat. As someone who's been recording poets for a number of years and has just started soliciting submissions for "Writers Reading Recipes"—enjoy Trevor's rendition of "Cranberry-Orange Relish" by John Engels—I feel you and I are intimately aligned in our appreciation for performance. To create an online presence dedicated to curating and building a library is a dedicated feat. There must have been a moment i …

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