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

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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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Book Cover The Hunted

The Places We'll Go

By Roz Nay

Pack your fictional bags at your peril! A recommended reading list by Roz Nay, whose latest thriller is The Hunted.

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Book Cover Ontario Picnics

Ontario Picnics

By Lindy Mechefske

A celebration of dining in the outdoors from new book ONTARIO PICNICS.

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Books Your Dad Will Love

wild geese

What dad doesn’t like a bit of plot? For Father’s Day this year, may we suggest Martha Ostenso’s Wild Geese, which portrays the very worst father in all of CanLit? It’s a great read, but more than that, the tyrant Caleb Gare will make your own dad look really good in comparison. Another creepy dad reigns in Jonathan Bennett’s Entitlement, which is a fun, twistily-plotted novel that your dad might enjoy reading at the cottage this summer. (Or he might like any of the books recommended in Bennett's Power and Politics reading list).


So creepy, we’re glad he’s not anybody’s dad is the protagonist of Tony Burgess People Live Still in Cashton Corners, a perfect gift for the father who likes to blur the lines between true crime and disturbing fiction. And how about a couple of legal thrillers: Robert Rotenberg’s Old City Hall, and also his latest novel, The Guilty Plea? A father/son relationship is at the heart of Andrew Pyper’s terrifying novel The Killing Circle, and also in Thomas King’s just-as-mysterious Truth and Bright Water.

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What We've All Been Waiting For: Most Anticipated Books of Fall 2011

In publishing, springtime arrives in the autumn, which marks the blossoming of scores of brand new books into the world. And though summer is decidedly still at its height, one can't help but look ahead to the bounty the Fall 2011 season promises to deliver.

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The Antagonist by Lynn Coady is her first novel since 2006's Mean Boy, and the story of a wayward man who discovers a former friend has written a novel stolen from his life. The Little Shadows by Marina Endicott, about the Vaudeville lives of three singing sisters, is eagerly awaited by readers who loved her Scotiabank Giller-nominated novel Good to a Fault. Natural Order is Brian Francis's very different follow-up to 2009 Canada Reads contender Fruit, a witty portrait of an older woman reflecting on the choices she's made throughout her life. In Frances Itani's Requiem, a man is pulled into a painful past to understand the effects of the Japanese-Canadian internment upon his family.

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Beauty Plus Pity by Kevin Chong is "the tragicomic modern immigrant's tale" of a wannabe-model whose plans are dera …

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Podcast: Nora Young talks about her book The Virtual Self and how our digital lives can reground us in the physical realm.

UPDATE: After much hullabaloo, Facebook filed its paperwork for an initial public offering, the week of its eighth birthday. The company will begin trading late May 2012. Read more at Mashable. They also have a nice video to explain what this all means, in particular the increase of mobile-Facebooking.

I went back to Nora Young to ask her thoughts. What does this mean in terms of data? OUR data? Here they be:

At the most basic level, Facebook's IPO is a good example of the fact that our data has value. In fact, it's interesting just to consider for a moment that the stock price is — and will be — driven by the loyalty of users and the data they choose to contribute, more than the platform itself, which in the absence of user data really has little intrinsic value.

Does that data have as much value as today's trading suggests, though? In advance of the IPO, I found it interesting to read speculation on what FB might need to do in order to generate the revenue that "Wall Street" might expect. See for instance, this New York Times article. It points out another feature of these platforms: that exactly what use will be made of our data, is something of a moving target. We are really at a fluid period in thinking about what value personal data actually has.

At more of a cultural level, the borderline hysterical coverage leading up to FB's IPO suggests that we are really drunk on data. It's a story with an odd sex appeal to it, since as users we are in some sense 'involved' in the …

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8 Male Writers I’d Want At My Side In A Bar Room Brawl: A List by John Vigna

Suppose you find yourself standing in a Calgary bar, perhaps Ranchman’s, mouthing off about your beloved Vancouver Canucks who’ve just eliminated the Flames in the playoffs (unlikely as that might be) and you’ve been shouting to be heard—the music is loud after all. A large southern Albertan ranchman hears you. He’s wearing a big white hat that shadows his eyes. His belt buckle winks in the light and you notice it’s a shiny Calgary Flames logo. You exchange a few words, but he’s not interested in talking. Instead, all hell breaks loose. Beer bottles smash on tabletops, you and the cowboy slug each other, the unmistakable stench of man-sweat and confusion floods the room. As the deafening cheers from onlookers—now the women are in on the fighting—spur on the cowboy, you consider dropping down under a table and curling in the fetal position. At this point, it’s about having the right guys to watch your back. In no particular order, these writers and their books might just help you walk away from that bar and live to fight another day.

Book Cover The Sisters Brothers

Patrick DeWitt, The Sisters Brothers: When passing through town, try to avoid picking fights at the local watering hole, but if you can’t do that, find this guy—he knows fights, he knows bars. DeWitt, author of …

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Most Anticipated Books of Fall 2013: Non-Fiction

Just-released and upcoming Canadian non-fiction for fall 2013 includes subject matter as varied as political marketing, World War I, murder, Christianity, threats to Canada's scientific community, how blood informs societies' workings, immigrant culture, and hard metal rock. Penned by seasoned investigative journalists and historians as well as fiction greats, these books look fascinating to us.


Ken McGoogan's 50 Canadians Who Changed the World starts off our list on an inspiring note; the collection of 50 includes Tommy Douglas, Pierre Trudeau, John Kenneth Galbraith, Naomi Klein, Marshall McLuhan, Stephen Lewis, Roméo Dallaire, Glenn Gould, David Suzuki, Mike Lazaridis, Margaret Atwood, Oscar Peterson, and Leonard Cohen. The Toronto Star heralds McGoogan as "the rightful successor to populist historian Pierre Berton."

Susan Delacou …

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The Randomizer

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