Off the Page

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

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Book Cover Cedar and Salt

3 Great Recipes from the 2020 Taste Canada Awards Shortlist

By Kerry Clare

Foodies, take note! Great recipes from celebrated cookbooks.

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Book Cover On Nostalgia

Launchpad: On Nostalgia, by David Berry

By Kerry Clare

"Berry’s subject is a wide-ranging one, but he pulls off the impressive feat of covering plenty of ground in a concise …

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Literatures, Communities and Learnings

Literatures, Communities, and Learning

By Kerry Clare

9 conversations with Indigenous writers about the relationship between Indigenous literatures and learning, and how thei …

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The Chat with Faye Guenther

The Chat with Faye Guenther

By Trevor Corkum

Swimmers in Winter (Invisible Publishing) is Faye Guenther’s debut collection of short fiction. These six stories expl …

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Book Cover Little Secrets

Summer Reading Starts Here

By Kerry Clare

Summer is not cancelled, and summer reading isn't either. We've got thrillers, epics, drama, historical fiction, and so …

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Cover Summer Feet

Picture Book Sneak Peek: Summer Feet, by Sheree Fitch and Carolyn Fisher

By Kerry Clare

Summer starts HERE with this glorious celebration of childhood...and filthy feet.

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Book Cover Mr. Frank

Notes from a Children's Librarian: Texts on Textiles

By Julie Booker

Exploring the art of sewing? Here are some tales to comfort and inspire.

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COVID–19 Teacher Diary: Pondering the “What If” with Shari Green & Caroline Pignat

COVID–19 Teacher Diary: Pondering the “What If” with Shari Green & Caroline Pignat

By Erika MacNeil

During this time of self-isolation and social distancing, books can sometimes be our only companions as the days stretch …

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Book Cover Good Mothers Don't

Launchpad: Good Mothers Don't, by Laura Best

By Kerry Clare

"An unlikely page turner replete with hushed surprises, unexpected crescendos, endless love and boundless vitality."

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Book Cover #NotYourPrincess

Exploring Indigenous History

By Kerry Clare

June is Indigenous History Month, a great opportunity to celebrate some of our favourite books over the years, along wit …

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Marissa Stapley's Perfect Dock-Side Reads

Book Cover Mating for Life

Looking for your big summer read? Then look no further than Marissa Stapley's Mating for Life, an absorbing novel of tangled family ties, with a Joni Mitchell soundtrack and a perfect cottage setting. It's a novel in which characters get up to their own summer reads, characters perching on the ends of their docks, paperbacks in hand. It's a ritual that Stapley knows something about, as she tells us here, sharing her own favourite setting for summer reading and some books that would make for great reading there.

*****

Every July we rent a cottage in Muskoka. It’s a place my husband and I have been visiting since before we were married, and it’s the place I modeled the cottage in Mating for Life after. There are many ideal reading spots here, but my favourite is the end of the dock. (I sometimes imagine I’ll look up and over at the dock next door and my character Laurence will be sitting there, reading Junky, by William Burroughs.)

I know there are many other beautiful places in the world, but none touch me quite the way this property does. It feels accessible, like I belong in it, like I don’t have to leave it to go home because I already am home. Also, being Canadian, I understand how important it is to savour these moments of warmth under the sun. Too soon, …

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What’s So Relaxing About Murder Anyway?

Book Cover Dying for Murder

We do so love the idea of a zoologist sleuth that we included Suzanne F. Kingsmill's Cordi O'Callaghan on our Canadian literary sleuth list last December. And O'Callaghan is back in a new installment, Dying for Murder, in which her attempt at a relaxing getaway to a research station off the coast of South Carolina leads her into another scene of death and chaos, presenting new mysteries to be solved. It seems that murder and relaxation do not go hand-in-hand.

Or do they?

In this guest post, Kingsmill fills us in on the merits of relaxing with a good thriller.  

***** 

No murder mystery writer would ever dream of lulling their readers into a total sense of relaxation, or—horrors!—putting them to sleep. Tension, exhilaration, and suspense are the hallmarks of a good mystery. The idea of “relaxing with a good book” is a well-worn one, but a bit of a misnomer for a mystery, where tension should be running high, the reader on the edge of her seat. And then the author does a slam-dunk, ending each chapter with a cliffhanger, so that you definitely can’t turn off the light and go to sleep, even though it’s 2 a.m.

In a good mystery, the reader’s mind is working overtime, matching wits with the author’s, processing the clues, trying to foresee the future and g …

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Picture Book Summer Magic

Summer! So perfect, so ephemeral. And yet also potentially endless if you keep rereading these beautiful summery new books.

*****

Song for a Summer's Night, by Robert Heidbreder and illustrated by Qin Leng:

Book Cover Song for a Summer's Night

The charm of this gorgeous book won't be completely apparent until you've read it in the company of at least one small child who will inevitably join for the summer song chorus—"shh-shh glint glint pring pring tra-la-la..." It's the perfect book to wind down with at the end of a busy sun-soaked day, its verse as contagious as that of Heidbreder's previous book, Drumheller Dinosaur Dance, and perfectly complemented by Leng's full page spreads. 

Song for a Summer's Night

 

See You Next Year, by Andrew Larsen and illustrated by Todd Stewart:

Book Cover See You Next year

We're in love with this book about the small pleasures of the summer holiday, an annual journey to a place where nothing ever c …

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Feels Like Summer 2016

tagged : summer books

Book Cover The Dancehall Years

Novels, picture books, cookbooks, a cottage reference guide and a colouring book make list this a cross-genre feast of summer delights that will help you make the most of the season.

*****

The Dancehall Years, by Joan Haggerty

About the book: Both an epic adventure and an interracial drama, this spellbinding novel brims with gorgeous writing. The complex family saga begins one summer on Bowen Island and in Vancouver during the Depression and moves through Pearl Harbour, the evacuation of the Japanese and three generations into the 1980s. Gwen Killam is a child whose idyllic island summers are obliterated by the war and consequent dramatically changed behaviour of the adults around her. Her swimming teacher, Takumi, disappears along with his parents. The Lower Mainland is in blackout, and Gwen’s beloved Aunt Isabelle painfully realizes she must make an unthinkable sacrifice.

The island’s dance hall, a well-known destination for both soldiers on leave and summer picnickers, becomes the emotional landmark for time passing and time remembered.

Why we're taking notice: This is a novel twenty years in the making. Haggerty's previous book, The Invitation, which was nominated for the Governor General’s Award in 1994.

**

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Your CAN'T FAIL Summer Reading List

book cover thirteen shells

Summertime ... and the books are amazing. Here we present you with an excellent stack of great summer reads guaranteed to make those long days (and nights!) even better. 

*****

Thirteen Shells, by Nadia Bozak

About the book: Spanning the late 1970s to the late 1980s, Nadia Bozak’s thirteen stories are narrated from the perspective of Shell, the only child of bohemian artisans determined to live off their handicrafts and uphold a left-wing lifestyle. At the age of five, Shell’s world is transformed when the family moves into a new house, where she grows up. Over time, she gradually trades her unconventional upbringing for junk food, rock music, and boys. All the while, Shell quietly watches her parents’ loveless marriage fall apart and learns to survive divorce, weight gain, heartache, and first love.

A funny, sensitive portrayal of the innocence and uncertainty of childhood and adolescence, Thirteen Shells is a true-to-life collection that is as unforgettable as it is poignant.

Why we're taking notice: This is a slow and quiet book, perfect for long summer days. Its structure has been compared to Lives of Girls and Women, using stories to show a young woman's coming of age. If that's your kind of book, then don't miss this one from the acclaimed Bozak.

**

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