Off the Page

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

Latest Blog Posts
Book Cover Salma the Syrian Chef

Notes from a Children’s Librarian: Satisfying Endings

By Julie Booker

How do you create a sense of satisfaction in a story’s finale? The following books pull it off!

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49thShelf Summer Reads

Introducing the 49th Shelf Summer Books List: Part 2

By Kerry Clare

Our summer reads extravaganza continues with PART 2 of our Summer Books List, and once again, each and every title is up …

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Inclusive Learning, Diverse Books: Introducing Top Grade 2021

Inclusive Learning, Diverse Books: Introducing Top Grade 2021

By Spencer Miller

Welcome to the Association for Canadian publisher’s Top Grade: CanLit for the Classroom, a blog and preview video seri …

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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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Black Ice: The Val James Story

Book Cover Black Ice

Giveaway! (until Feb. 27). 

Val James became the first African American player in the NHL when he took to the ice with the Buffalo Sabres in 1982, and in 1987 he became the first black player of any nationality to skate for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

We're pleased to feature an excerpt from James new autobiography, Black Ice, including a short introduction revealing the harsh reality of James' experiences with racism as an NHL player, and the book's first chapter which takes us back to his first experiences on the ice, learning to skate at the not-so-tender age of 13. 

*****

His teammates looked away, pretending not to notice that feared hockey enforcer Valmore James was crying. That the events of recent days would bring tears to his eyes should not have been a surprise. Less than one hour earlier, Val and the Buffalo Sabres had finished playing a fierce road contest against the Bruins at hockey’s hallowed Boston Garden. Val had contributed the hard play, and harder punches, that led to his first call up to the National Hockey League.

The years of dreaming and hard work and fighting — especially the fighting — had all brought him to this point. The moment he took to the ice, on a spring evening in 1982, he had become part of a tiny fraternity of American players w …

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"Wrestling was never merely a sport"

Book Cover Thrashing Seasons

C. Nathan Hatton is author of the new book, Thrashing Seasons: Sporting Culture in Manitoba and the Genesis of Prairie Wrestling, which tells the story of wrestling in Manitoba from its earliest documented origins in the eighteenth century, to the Great Depression. In this list, he shares other essential books about the history of the sport in Canada. 

*****

Wrestling, particularly professional wrestling, has long been the domain of popular historians. Its colourful past is by-and-large chronicled by journalists, magazine publishers, avid fans, and the wrestlers themselves. Spurred on by the commercial success of Mick Foley’s groundbreaking Have a Nice Day (1999), the twenty-first century has seen an explosion, in particular, of autobiographies and biographies. As any trip to a bookstore will attest, tremendous public interest in professional wrestling exists. Yet, relative to the United States, only a small number of works have been written specifically on Canadian wrestling.  

In general, academics have been far more tentative in embracing professional wrestling than the popular scribes. While sociologists and other scholars of contemporary culture have applied their critical gaze, few historians have joined them. Until Thrashing Seasons, none had done so in Can …

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Resilience, Social Justice, and Race: Reviewing Jael Ealey Richardson's The Stone Thrower

Twice a month, we invite an educator to share their perspective on essential books for your classroom. To apply to become a contributor, please send us an email!

***

It can be very difficult to tell two stories in one book, especially in a work of nonfiction, but this is something Jael Richardson does  masterfully in her debut book The Stone Thrower. In this beautifully written memoir, Jael sets out on a path of discovery to find out how her father, football legend Chuck Ealey Jr., became one of the best quarterbacks in history and why he chose to end his illustrious career. While conducting this exploration of her father’s life, she also explores her own life and what it was like to grow up as a young Black woman in Canada. Even though this book is a tale of two stories, there are common themes that feature prominently in both.

Resilience, true grit, and determination are key components of this book and they are also traits that teachers attempt to instill in their students; which is why it is such an excellent resource and educational tool in multiple curricular areas. Physical Education, History, English, and Global Studies courses could all use this book as it covers the sport of football, provides historical context of the civil rights movement, and looks at …

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"Wrestling was never merely a sport"

Book Cover Thrashing Seasons

C. Nathan Hatton is author of the new book, Thrashing Seasons: Sporting Culture in Manitoba and the Genesis of Prairie Wrestling, which tells the story of wrestling in Manitoba from its earliest documented origins in the eighteenth century, to the Great Depression. In this list, he shares other essential books about the history of the sport in Canada. 

*****

Wrestling, particularly professional wrestling, has long been the domain of popular historians. Its colourful past is by-and-large chronicled by journalists, magazine publishers, avid fans, and the wrestlers themselves. Spurred on by the commercial success of Mick Foley’s groundbreaking Have a Nice Day (1999), the twenty-first century has seen an explosion, in particular, of autobiographies and biographies. As any trip to a bookstore will attest, tremendous public interest in professional wrestling exists. Yet, relative to the United States, only a small number of works have been written specifically on Canadian wrestling.  

In general, academics have been far more tentative in embracing professional wrestling than the popular scribes. While sociologists and other scholars of contemporary culture have applied their critical gaze, few historians have joined them. Until Thrashing Seasons, none had done so in Can …

Continue reading >

Because it's good for you: Barbara McVeigh on reading #SportsLit

My personal interest into the world of sports stories began one morning while I was house-sitting for my parents. I had never been a big sports fan, but, being bored, I flicked on the television set and came across the 1993 Tour de France. Lance Armstrong was going for his record fifth title. I thought: OK, I can watch this. I loved to ride a bike as a kid. And wasn’t this the guy who was supposed to have almost died from cancer?

Book Cover Winter Sport

Priscila Uppal writes in her introductory essay to Winter Sport that “sports are rife with the drama of life, with full and rich metaphorical and symbolic possibilities” and the 1993 Tour de France was no exception. Each day of the three-week race was another barrier to Armstrong’s chance of achieving his record. The most epic stages were those in the mountains: grueling climbs lined with drunken spectators slapping riders on the back as the riders ground their way to the top. There could be a gasp-inducing crash while the riders were hurtling themselves down a steep and snaking descent at 90 km an hour. In their reportage, the commentators painted the commitment and qualities of the cyclists: There were breakaways and bunch sprints, competitors suffering from road rash, and a Frenchman who continually unpacked his suitcase of cou …

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