Off the Page

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

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Book Cover Hour of the Crab

Other Beings, Other Minds

By Patricia Robertson

A recommended reading list by author of the new book Hour of the Crab.

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Book Cover WANTED! Criminals of the Animal Kingdom

Notes from a Children's Librarian: Life Sciences

By Julie Booker

Celebrate Earth Day with these fun and inspiring picture books.

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Book Cover Constant Nobody

Courage from the Outliers

By Michelle Butler Hallett

A recommended reading list by the author of new novel Constant Nobody.

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The Chat with Krista Foss

The Chat with Krista Foss

By Trevor Corkum

With Half Life (McClelland & Stewart), Krista Foss has delivered a spectacular sophomore novel, one that entangles compl …

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Book Cover The Memory Collectors

8 Books for Fans of Fabulism

By Kim Neville

A recommended reading list by Kim Neville, whose debut novel is The Memory Collectors.

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Book Cover The Octopus Has Three Hearts

Exciting Fiction to Read This Spring

By Kerry Clare

New books by Camilla Gibb, Marissa Stapley, Wayne Grady, Uzma Jalaluddin, and more! Sme of the novels and short fiction …

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Book Cover Outside You Notice

New Picture Books for Spring

By Kerry Clare

A selection of gorgeous new picture books celebrating new life, hope, nature, and mindfulness.

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Book Cover Half Life

She Blinded Me With Science

By Krista Foss

When wonder and inquiry are subverted and held up to the light by these writers, the results are often uncomfortable, al …

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Book Cover Fairy Science

Notes from a Children's Librarian: Celebrating STEM

By Julie Booker

This list includes all kinds of STEM’ers—science enthusiasts, builders, inventors, real life engineers—in both fic …

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Book Cover The Hill

Pairs Well: Ali Bryan's Awesome YA Reading List

By Ali Bryan

Celebrated novelist Bryan shares great titles to complement her latest book.

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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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In Conversation With: Shari Lapena on her love of wilderness adventure tales

One of the perks of this gig is that I get to invite myself into the homes of authors who offer me coffee, tea, maybe a little snack, and a good look at their bookshelves. There's always a nice chat, maybe another snack, and upon leaving I usually have an idea of how our follow up interview will unfold. In the case of Shari Lapena, I knew immediately that I'd want to know more about her love of adventure wilderness tales, which sits in opposition to her own writing style. Beyond a guilty pleasure, the impulse to return to one kind of tale, or one particular author, is a creature comfort, something that doesn't just bring us satisfaction, it roots us in a place where we feel at home in ourselves. Enjoy the chat, and Shari's short reading from her novel Things Go Flying.

Julie Wilson: Shari, thank you for having me in your home to record you reading from your 2008 novel Things Go Flying. You have a new novel out, Happiness Economics, launching September 27, at the Dora Keogh, 7 p.m. Toronto people, come on out! (Both novels are published by Brindle & Glass Publishing.)

One of the things I like about recording authors in person is the chance it offers to catch a glimpse at their bookshelves. You mentioned your "creature comforts," the non-fiction, adventure wilderness tales you're taken in by. I'm intrigued by the kind of books we tend to return to because we know they won't disappoint, be it a style of writing, topic matter or the unabashed fandom we have for one author over anot …

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In Conversation With: Liz Strange on crime fiction and developing her protagonist over a series

Author Liz Strange.

Liz Strange was born and raised in Kingston, Ontario, where she still resides. She is a massive horror fan, vampire enthusiast and self-confessed sci-fi nerd. Mythology and historical mysteries have long enthralled her, and you will often find them touched upon in her works. You can find out more about Liz at

Liz's novel Missing Daughter, Shattered Family has just been shortlisted for an Independent Literary Award, recommended and voted on by independent literary bloggers.

Julie Wilson: Your previous novels have been in the horror/vampire genre. Why the jump to crime fiction?

Liz Strange: I have always been a big fan of mysteries and crime fiction, right back to my childhood days of reading the Three Investigators series. I enjoy the works of authors like Patricia Cornwell, Sue Grafton, Michael Slade, Karen Slaughter and many others. I had a story idea that I kept coming back to so I just decided to give it a try.

I like playing with the idea that monsters aren’t just stories, or figments of people’s imagination, but that they walk among us every day. People are capable of doing some truly terrible things to other humans, and I wanted to explore that in the novel. This also weaves its way into my protagonist's personal life as well; it was a m …

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Maggie Helwig's Girls Fall Down named 2012 One Book: Toronto [author interview]

Girls Fall Down by Maggie Helwig (Coach House Books)

Maggie Helwig's Girls Fall Down—the acclaimed novel of fear and love set in a Toronto in crisis—has been named the 2012 One Book: Toronto title. The Toronto Public Library's city-wide book club runs throughout April.

The Toronto Public Library runs the One Book: Toronto program as part of April's "Keep Toronto Reading" festivities. Torontonians are encouraged to read one book together en masse and join in a city-wide conversation. Throughout April, the Toronto Public Library will host dozens of events concerning Girls Fall Down and its themes.

Past One Book: Toronto titles include Midnight at the Dragon Cafe (Judy Fong Bates), More (Austin Clarke) and Consolation (Michael Redhill).

About Girls Fall Down:

Girls Fall Down opens with a girl fainting in the Toronto subway. Her friends are taken to the hospital with unexplained rashes. Swarms of police arrive, and then the hazmat team. Panic ripples through the city, and words like poisoning and terrorism become airborne. Alex, a medical photographer who is hoping to chronicle the Toronto he knows on film before his sight fails completely, is a witness to this first episode. During the hysteria, he encounters an old girlfriend–the one who shattered his heart in the eighties, while she was fighting for social justice …

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Most Anticipated: Our Spring 2016 Fiction Preview

Book Cover Tears in the Grass

"Really?" some sad cynic somewhere might be saying as he contemplates just how many books appear on our Most Anticipated lists. "How can anybody possibly be that excited about so many books?" To which we'd reply, "But have you met the people behind 49th Shelf? Have you met our community members, the most avid supporters of Canadian literature?" If you have, you'll know that CanLit enthusiasm, as ever, abounds, and we're so pleased to be part of the movement. So here are some  of the best books you're going to be reading this spring. 


In Cathy Ace's latest Cait Morgan book, The Corpse With the Garnet Face (April), the foodie sleuth accompanies her husband to Amsterdam to solve a mystery in his family tree. Tears in the Grass (March), by Lynda A. Archer, is set in Saskatchewan and it confronts a history of trauma, racism, love, and cultural survival. There's lots of buzz already for Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl (February), by Mona Awad, which is a novel that hilariously skewers our body-obsessed culture. The latest by Todd Babiak is Son of France (March), the sequel to Come BarbariansThe Pharos Gate: Griffin and Sabine’s Missing Correspondence (March), by Nick Bantock, is the final volume in a love story that’s been celebrated by readers for 25 …

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