Off the Page

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

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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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Book Cover Glorious Birds

Why Is Harold and Maude Considered a Cult Film?

By Heidi Greco

The critic Roger Ebert dismissed it with a measly one and a half stars. Variety claimed that “It has all the fun and g …

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Book Cover New Girl in Little Cove

The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Reader

By Damhnait Monaghan

An expat reading list by the author of new book New Girl in Little Cove

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Intrepid Travellers: Canadian Women in the World

This month at 49thShelf, we're Writing the World, exploring travel guides and memoirs, and books with global issues and international themes. And this week in particular, in the run-up to International Women's Day, we're celebrating women's stories, beginning with this cross-genre list—memoir, fiction, and poetry—of Canadian women's travel tales.

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Book Cover Outside of Ordinary

Outside of Ordinary: Women's Travel Stories, edited by Lynn Cecil and Catherine Bancroft

Thirty-two Canadian women writers—including Alison Pick, Sharon Butala, and Lorna Crozier—tell their travel stories in this anthology of stories in which lives are challenged spiritually, physically, emotionally, and otherwise, as well as deeply enriched. Elaine K. Miller cycles across the Southern United States, Janet Greidanus climbs to Everest Base Camp, and Jane Eaton Hamilton, on vacation in Mexico with her partner, contemplates whether to join the fight for same-sex marriage in Canada. For it seems that travel doesn't just change one's view of the world, but it changes also how one sees one's own self, and also notions of home. 

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10 Books With Global Themes to Read This Spring

This month we're writing the world at 49th Shelf, talking books with international themes and settings, about global issues, and travel. From our amazing list of Most Anticipated Books for Spring 2015, we've culled a few that fall under this umbrella that the globally minded among you should seek out to read. 

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Chicken in the Mango Tree: Food and Life in a Thai-Khmer Village, by Jeffrey Alford

About the book: In the small village of Kravan in rural Thailand, the food is like no other in the world. The diet is finely attuned to the land, taking advantage of what is local and plentiful. Made primarily of fresh, foraged vegetables infused with the dominant Khmer flavours of bird chilies, garlic, shallots, and fish sauce, the cuisine is completely distinct from the dishes typically associated with Thailand.

Chicken in the Mango Tree follows the cycle of a year in Kravan, and the recipes associated with each season—steamed tilapia during the rainy season, mushroom soup, called tom yam het, during the cold season, rice noodles with seafood during the hot months and spicy green papaya salad as comfort food all year round. With helpful substitutes for the more exotic ingredients and cooking methods, Alford's recipes and stories blend together to bring a taste of this …

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Rosalind Chan: Around the World in Cake

Of all the international themes that we're considering this month, it all keeps coming back to food. Cookbooks and food books are fascinating ways to learn about other culture, and our own local food movement has only awakened interest in how food culture works in other places. However, world-renowned cake decorator Rosalind Chan's new book is a spin on global food quite like no other. 

Creative Cakes features 14 cakes inspired by by the symbols and flowers of places Chan has visited on her travels, with recipes that teach some of the most sought-after skills in cake making, plus how-to photos, templates, full-page images, and a variety of cake and confectionery recipes.

The wonders of the world have never been so sweet. 

 

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Russia

Russian Faberge Beauty

 

Russia’s national flower is the chamomile. Looking very much like a daisy, the chamomile symbolizes energy. Russia is known for its famous jewelled eggs, made by the House of Faberge from 1885 to 1917 for the Russian imperial family.

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India

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Pamela Mordecai: Novels of the Caribbean

Book Cover Red Jacket

The award-winning Pamela Mordecai's new novel is Red Jacket, which is about a girl growing up on the Caribbean island of St. Chris who never feels like she really belongs. Although her large, extended family is black, she is a redibo. Her skin is copper-coloured, her hair is red, and her eyes are grey. A neighbour taunts her, calling her “a little red jacket,” but the reason for the insult is never explained. Only much later does Grace learn the story of her birth mother and decipher the mystery surrounding her true identity. 

In keeping with our theme of "Writing the World" this month, Mordecai shares with us this fantastic list of novels of the Caribbean. 

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I had three criteria for this list of nine books: that the writers be Canadian-Caribbean women; that the setting be entirely or in large part, the Caribbean; and that the books be published in (roughly) the last 15 years. That I claim most of these women as friends is a huge privilege. Give thanks.

At the Full and Change of the Moon, by Dionne Brand

As my daughter says, this is an amazing bo …

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Thai Rainy Season: How to Catch a Fish With Your Hands

Book Cover Chicken in the Mango Tree

In the small village of Kravan in rural Thailand, the food is like no other in the world. The diet is finely attuned to the land, taking advantage of what is local and plentiful. Made primarily of fresh, foraged vegetables infused with the dominant Khmer flavours of bird chilies, garlic, shallots and fish sauce, the cuisine is completely distinct from the dishes typically associated with Thailand.

Bestselling food writer and photographer Jeffrey Alford has been completely immersed in this unique culinary tradition for the last four years while living in this region with his partner Pea, a talented forager, gardener and cook. With stories of village and family life surrounding each dish, Alford provides insight into the ecological and cultural traditions out of which the cuisine of the region has developed. He also describes how the food is meant to be eaten: as an elaborate dish in a wedding ceremony, a well-deserved break from the rice harvest, or just a comforting snack at the end of a hard day.

We're pleased to feature an excerpt from Chicken in the Mango Tree as the next stop on our Writing the World tour. 

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Rainy Season

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