Off the Page

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

Latest Blog Posts
Introducing the 49th Teachers COVID–19 Crisis Teacher Diary

Introducing the 49th Teachers COVID–19 Crisis Teacher Diary

By Allison Hall

Welcome to the 49th Teachers COVID–19 Teacher Diary, a new blog series that takes a look at how teachers are coping wi …

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Book Cover A Forest in the City

Seeing the Forest AND the Trees

By Andrea Curtis

When self isolation and physical distancing has got your family cooped up, the next best thing might just be reading pic …

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The Chat with Amanda Leduc

The Chat with Amanda Leduc

By Trevor Corkum

Disfigured: On Fairy Tales, Disability, and Making Space (Coach House) is a brilliant and startling book of essays by Am …

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Book Cover Dead mom Walking

Five Queer Memoirs to Keep You Going

By Rachel Matlow

When you’re done watching Tiger King and taking a break from playing Animal Crossing, here are five queer memoirs to k …

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Earth Hour: Books & Activities to Spark Discussion and Environmental Action

Earth Hour: Books & Activities to Spark Discussion and Environmental Action

By Allison Hall

On Saturday March 28th millions of people around the globe will turn off their lights and spend an hour without the use …

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Book Cover Sputnik's Children

The Books I Want to Read Again

By Kerry Clare

Rereading is comfort, and indulgence. It's a voyage back to the familiar, but one that's still rich with discovery, and …

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Neon BOOKS sign

How Do We Read When Words Fail Us?

By Kerry Clare

On the value of books and reading in a dangerous time.

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Book Cover Lost in the Backyard

Notes from a Children's Librarian: Catchy Beginnings

By Julie Booker

Great books with great starts.

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Books to Keep Young People Learning During Covid-19

Books to Keep Young People Learning During Covid-19

By Kiley Turner

There's never been a better time to highlight some great posts from our resident children's librarian, Julie Booker.

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Book Cover The Birth Yard

A Sense of Place: THE BIRTH YARD Book List

By Mallory Tater

"The Birth Yard embodies a sense of place that I, as a woman, have always felt inside."

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How Do We Read When Words Fail Us?

Neon Sign that says BOOKS

Last week, I finally finished reading a book.

And that this is even remarkable speaks volumes about the strange times we're all navigating right now. Because usually I finish books in the way that most people finish wearing pants at the end of the day, or in the way that one might finish eating their lunch. Usually it's easy, automatic, even reflexive. I read therefore I am, but last week I didn't, and I wasn't, scrolling social media feeds and news blogs instead: refresh, refresh. When will there be good news?

Last week, it seemed like words were failing on all fronts, in print, online, and especially in my head. As I was reading every bit of journalism I could get my hands on in search of answers, in search of certainty, for all the chaos to coalesce into something that made sense, but there was nothing, only noise, and fear, and questions. What is going to happen next?

And I couldn't read. Which didn't make sense when I had all the time in the world, and all the books at my fingertips, a to-be-read pile that was taller than my child, and access to e-books for days. I'd even had two new releases delivered from my local indie bookshop straight to my front door, which should have been the best thing that had ever happened to me, but the books sat unopened on a chair …

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The Personal Book Shopper Contest: June #mybookshopper

personal book shopper

Welcome to The Personal Book Shopper Contest!

To recap, we know word-of-mouth is the #1 one way readers find their way to their next book. And we know that if you're into social media, you're used to sending out the call for recommendations of one sort or another. So to hearken back to my earliest days as @BookMadam, I'm going to hook you up with some good books. It's the personal touch.

How does it work?

We're inviting readers to submit a few "choice words" to describe themselves. Have a deep think and get as creative as you'd like. Using those words, I, along with a rotating door of readers, publishers, booksellers, authors, bloggers, librarians—you name it—will attempt to come up with not one but three books we think you might like . . . and then we're gonna give 'em to you! We'll choose three winners per contest. Counting on my fingers, that's, yep, nine books given away each month. Even if you don't win, you'll still walk away with a new reading list!

And the first contest begins . . . now!

Enter in one of three ways:

1) Twitter: Follow @CdnBookshelf so you'll never miss our news and announcements. When each Personal Book Shopper Contest is announced, using the hashtag #mybookshopper, reply to @CdnBookshelf with a minimum of five choice words to describ …

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The Personal Book Shopper Contest: July #mybookshopper

personal book shopper

Welcome back to The Personal Book Shopper Contest! I'm your host, Julie Wilson (@BookMadam).

Every month, we ask readers to imagine a world—walk with me—a world in which a rotating panel of librarians, booksellers, publishers and authors put on their collective thinking hats (and feeling hearts) to select three books each for three randomly-selected winners based solely on five words those readers submitted to describe themselves. You can imagine, it yields a wide variety of results, which is just how we like it!

Check out June's results to see how it all went down.

We've fired up a Facebook event for July's contest and already a few early birds have shared their words. Here's a sample: natural nomad -- greeniac -- circular rainbow; yackademic, energetic, optimistic, apoplectic, winsome mystic, goofball; tenacious, optimistic, thoughtful, good listener, sensitive.

What are your words this month? To enter:

1) Add your words to this month's Facebook event here. (Feel free to "Share" the event with your friends!)

2) Reply to @cdnbookshelf on Twitter with your five words and the hashtag #mybookshopper.

Get to it, word nerds! (She said with much affection.)

Contest closes tomorrow: Wednesday, July 20 at 2:00 p.m. ET.

This month's winners, along with our guest panel, wil …

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The Personal Book Shopper Contest: July's Book Picks Revealed #mybookshopper

personal book shopper

Congratulations to the winners of July's Personal Book Shopper Contest!

Our panelists went to their corners, their hidey-holes, their secret places and have come back with their individual picks for each winner, using only five words! Crazy!

Let's meet our panelists:

Door #1: Corey Redekop writes sometimes (see: Shelf Monkey), publicizes the works of others more often (see: Goose Lane Editions), and aggrandizes himself most of all (see: his inflated sense of self-worth [you can see it from space!]). (Ed. Corey submitted his own bio. I can only see his sense of self-worth on sunny days between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Get on it, Corey!)
Door #2: Ryan Deschamps is twitterin' knitterin' former Haligonian, new Reginian librarian, who likes readable non-fiction, zombies and super heroes.
Door #3: It's a new car . . . and Steph VanderMeulen, indie bookseller, book blogger at Bella's Bookshelves and freelance copyeditor.

Our winners:

Shelley Savor: readaholic, greenishblue, curious, driven, pensive
Tracey G. Paris: Swims deep but loves deeper.
Avis Anderson: quiet, quirky, questioning, québécoise, quibbler

Corey's Picks:

Shelley Savor: readaholic, greenishblue, curious, driven, pensive
Shining at the Bottom of the Sea, (Penguin) by Stephen Marche
The World More Full …

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The Personal Book Shopper Contest #mybookshopper

personal book shopper

We know word-of-mouth is the #1 one way readers find their way to their next book. If you're on Twitter or Facebook, you've at one time asked for a recommendation, whether for yourself or as a gift. Your local bookseller can certainly help you come to a conclusion, as well as one of your library's reading advisers. You can even go direct to a host of social media savvy publishers who have people available to help you make a choice from their own list. But we also know that in many cases that decision is influenced by a person close to each reader, often someone with whom the reader keeps intimate company. To that end, we'd like to introduce you to a veritable book brothel of advisers lead by Canadian Bookshelf Host, Julie Wilson, a.k.a. @BookMadam, and her rotating cast of booksellers, librarians, authors, publishers and bloggers. (Those who have been following Julie for some time will know this is how she got the moniker "Book Madam," after a series of online contests with Indigo and McNally Robinson booksellers.)

How does it work?

Think, what if you could submit a few "choice words" to a personal book shopper—#mybookshopper—someone who wanders off into the bookish wild armed with only those words, to return sweatier and disheveled, hoisting a book over her …

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