Off the Page

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

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Book Cover knot body

Launchpad: knot body, by Eli Tareq El Bechelany-Lynch

By Kerry Clare

"Readers may sit and ruminate on the sharp and sensual inquiry offered by each individual letter, or read cover-to-cover …

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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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Most Anticipated Books of Fall 2013: Adult Fiction

The nights are cooling down and with the drop in temperature comes a frisson of excitement about a new season of life, and of books. Already Canadian publishers have begun releasing the titles with the potential to make a splash in the fall, during lit fests, during award season, and in bookstores. And more will come in the next few weeks. Here's a round-up of some of the most promising novels and short story collections geared for adults. Poetry, non-fiction, and kids lit will follow in the next couple of weeks.

Of course there will be more remarkable Canadian books that will emerge this fall; we will endeavour to introduce these to you as well through our regular editorial programming.

extraordinary

Long-awaited novels from celebrated authors compose a good portion of what we can look forward to this fall. Governor General's-Award-winning author David Gilmour examines sibling relationships and the incredible condition of being alive while anticipating imminent death in his novel, Extraordinary. Fans of Margaret Atwood will be buoyed to hear Booklist's verdict that the final work in her dystopian trilogy, Maddaddam, is anchored by a "feverishly suspenseful plot."

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Friend. Follow. Text: Shawn Syms on Stories From Living Online

cover friend follow text

Twitter lit? Facebook fiction? Here at 49th Shelf, we use the online realm to bring books and readers together. A new book, Friend. Follow. Text. #storiesFromLivingOnline, really takes this idea to heart. It consists of stories where the ways we connect online—chat sessions, Facebook status updates, website comment threads—are incorporated directly into the narrative. We asked editor Shawn Syms to talk about some of the stories in the book and the ways in which contemporary writing is being increasingly enhanced by the language and format of social media.

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How we meet each other, talk to one another, experience our lives together: it’s all changing. The possibility of being constantly online—while dancing in a big, sweaty crowd or standing alone on a quiet, snowy mountaintop—has started to permanently alter how we communicate as a culture. Whether we’re talking about sharing photos, trading tweets or texting exes, some find this delightful, others disconcerting.

This shift has affected us as readers. Curled up in bed reading 1984 on a tablet or getting breaking news while sitting on the bus, our eyes scan more information of myriad types in many different ways now. And it’s starting to affect how authors construct their works, too. Is there a plac …

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Most Anticipated: Spring 2014 Fiction Preview

"Spring" of course, is a relative term (except when it isn't—that whole business of the vernal equinox and all) but we live by aspiration here at 49th Shelf, and therefore the spring publishing season begins right now. There are so many exciting books forthcoming in the first half of 2014, and we'll be rounding them up over the next few weeks. First up is fiction, where it's immediately clear that we've got so much to look forward to. 

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Pastoral (February) is a new novel by André Alexis, a modern take on the age-old genre. Hysteric (March), by Nelly Arcan, has been translated into English by David Homel; it is described as "a chronicle of life among twenty- and thirty-somethings, a life structured by text messages, missed cell phone calls, the latest DJs and Internet porn." In Waiting for the Man (April), by Arjun Basu, a New York advertising executive starts listening to the voice in his head with surprising and sensational results. We like the sound of Greg Bechtel's Boundary Problems (March), a collection that "vibrates on the edge of meaning, as carjackers, accidental gunrunners, small-town cabbies, and confused physics students struggle to wring meaning from the strange events that overtake them." And those of us who loved his last novel are looking fo …

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Launchpad: Keepers of the Faith, by Shaukat Ajmeri

Launchpad Logo

This spring we've made it our mission (even more than usual) to celebrate new releases in the wake of cancelled launch parties, book festivals, and reading series. With 49th Shelf Launchpad, we're holding virtual launch parties here on our platform complete with witty banter, great insight, and short and snappy readings to give you a taste of the books on offer. You can request these books from your local library, get them as e-books or audio books, order them from your local indie bookseller if they're delivering, buy them direct from the publisher or from online retailers.

Today we're launching Keepers of the Faith, by Shaukat Ajmeri, which Farzana Doctor calls, "complex, beautiful, and essential reading for our times."

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The Elevator Pitch. Tell us about your book in a sentence.

It’s a story of two young lovers caught in their community’s religious strife, are forced to separate and meet again years later to face soul-destroying moral dilemma.

Describe your ideal reader.

Loves a good tale written well, reads widely and diversely and has a healt …

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Launchpad: The Heart Beats In Secret, by Katie Munnik

Launchpad Logo

This spring we've made it our mission (even more than usual) to celebrate new releases in the wake of cancelled launch parties, book festivals, and reading series. With 49th Shelf Launchpad, we're holding virtual launch parties here on our platform complete with witty banter and great insight to give you a taste of the books on offer. You can request these books from your local library, get them as e-books or audio books, order them from your local indie bookseller if they're delivering, buy them direct from the publisher or from online retailers.

Today we're launching The Heart Beats in Secret, by Katie Munnik, a novel that explores the wilderness of the heart, the secrets concealed with every beat and the many ways it is possible to be a mother.

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The Elevator Pitch. Tell us about your book in a sentence.

A young woman inherits her grandmother’s house, only to find a wild goose living in the kitchen.

Describe your ideal reader.

My ideal reader loves birds, 1940s foraged gin recipes, layered family histories, Scottish nature writing, migration stor …

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