Off the Page

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

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Book Cover What's My Superhero

Notes From a Children's Librarian: Books on Health and Wellness

By [Kerry Clare]

Books that focus on self-awareness—understanding personal strengths, recognizing sources of stress, making decisions, …

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Book Cover A Joy to be Hidden

Ariela Freedman: Jewish Canadian Fiction

By [Kerry Clare]

A recommended reading list by the award-winning author of the new novel A Joy To Be Hidden

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Book Cover The Mystery of Black Hollow Lane

Awesome Girls in Middle-Grade Fiction

By [Kerry Clare]

A recommended reading list by Julia Nobel, whose novel is The Mystery of Black Hollow Lane

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Book Cover Fierce

25 Books for International Women's Day

By [Kerry Clare]

Books on women's history, suffrage, reproductive experiences, memoir, menstrual cycles, athletics, and so much more—in …

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Book Cover the Migration

Helen Marshall: Weird Fiction

By [Kerry Clare]

"Weird fiction zigzags across the boundaries between horror and fantasy, sometimes chilling, sometimes beautiful, but al …

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The Chat with Ian Williams

The Chat with Ian Williams

By [Trevor Corkum]

Reproduction, the debut novel by Ian Williams, is a stunner. By any measure. Structurally daring, emotionally profound, …

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Logo 1000 Islands Writers Festival

Your 2019 Spring Festival Guide

By [Kerry Clare]

Across the country, organizers and volunteers-extraordinaire are programming epic celebrations of books and the amazing …

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End of February Giveaway

End of February Giveaway

By [Kiley Turner]

There has never been a better time for a surprise giveaway. Here’s how it works. Kerry and I will each tell you a TINY …

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Book Cover A Treasure at Sea

Notes from a Children's Librarian: Books on Health and Safety

By [Kerry Clare]

Our Children's Librarian columnist, Julie Booker, brings us a new view from the stacks every month.

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David Albertyn: Story, Struggle and Sports

Undercard is the debut novel by David Albertyn, and sports and literature intersect in the book as they do in Albertyn's life—he's been a competitive tennis player and coach since 2005. In this recommended reading list, Albertyn recommends other books that tell compelling stories (fictional and otherwise) of sports and people who play them. 

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I wanted Undercard to have all the aspects of a great sports story, within the context of a great thriller. I wanted the outcome of a sports event to be integral to the outcome of a criminal plot. I wanted my four principal characters to be athletes, current or former, and the specific sport they each compete in helps define and develop who they come to be. I wanted a novel that was as riveting as the most furious boxing match, and as blood-thumping as the most daring revenge tale—one compounded on top of the other.

In the eight books listed below, story is given equal value and investment as the sports they deal with. Societal issues are too. These Canadian writers use stories about sports to engage with issues pertaining to identity, race, immigration, discrimination, poverty, and loss, among others. All of them document struggle. Struggle against injustice, struggle to understand one’s self, struggle for a better li …

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Ann Lambert: Watershed Books

The Birds That Stay is Ann Lambert's first novel, a murder mystery set in a small village in the Laurentians, north of Montreal. And Lambert brings to her first book more than two decades of experience as a theatre direction, playwright, and English teacher, all of which inform her novel, and in this recommended reading list she shares works that have similarly served as a foundation for her, both as a reader and as a writer.

Although narrowing the list down wasn't easy...

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How do I isolate ten books to recommend from the range and depth of Canadian literature? How do I not include Barometer Rising, The Tin Flute, The Wars, Le Matou, Unless, A Complicated Kindness, A Fine Balance, The Life of Pi, The Book of Negroes, Lullabies for Little Criminals, The Tiger, The Break and so many other terrific books? I decided to select books by Canadian writers whose work prompted a watershed moment for me, over a lifetime of reading.

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The Diviners, by Margaret Laurence 

This was the complete novel for me. It told the story of a woman, Morag Gunn, who migrated from h …

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The Recommend: Masterpieces, Celebrities, Survival, and Magic

Research shows that most of the books we read are the result of one thing: someone we know, trust, and/or admire tells us it's great. That's why we run this series, The Recommend, where readers, writers, reviewers, bloggers, and others tell us about a book they'd recommend to a good friend ... and why.

This week we're pleased to present the picks of book blogger Laura Frey (reading-in-bed.com), Melanie Fishbane (whose debut YA novel is Maud: A Novel Inspired by the Life of L.M. Montgomery), Katherine Ashenburg (whose debut fiction novel—following many nonfiction works—is Sofie and Cecilia), Karen Hofmann (whose forthcoming short story collection is Echolocation), and Bruce Cinnamon (whose debut novel is The Melting Queen).

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Laura Frey recommends Éric Dupont's Songs for the Cold of Heart

I am a blurb skeptic. Blurbs are, at best, the most biased form of literary criticism. Just check how often a blurber’s name appears on the acknowledgements page. At worst, blurbs are clichéd, or taken out of out of context, or of dubious veracity (did Gary Shteyngart really read all those books?).

The blurb on Songs for the Cold of Heart got all my skeptic senses tingling:

“If the Americans have John Irving and the Colombians Gabriel García Márquez, we have Eric Dupont. And …

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Most Anticipated: Our 2019 Books for Young Readers Spring Preview

Last but certainly not least in our 2019 Spring Preview is our Books for Young Readers list, featuring books that are sure to delight readers of all ages. 

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Picture Books

A little girl growing up on the prairies stands at the window and waves to the train engineer going by in A Little House in a Big Place, by Alison Acheson, illustrated by Valériane LeBlond, a book that explores the magic of a connection made between strangers while also pondering the idea of growing up. Albert just wants to read his book in peace—why won't his friends give him some quiet? Isabelle Arsenault's latest is Albert's Quiet Quest (May), and it  explores the importance of finding alone time. Cale Atkinson's Where Oliver Fits (April) looks at the highs and lows of learning to be yourself and shows that fitting in isn't always the best fit. Based on author Susan Avingaq’s childhood memories of growing up in an iglu,The Pencil introduces young readers to the idea of using things wisely. Saumiya Balasubramaniam’s When I Found Grandma (March), illustrated by Qin Leng, is an insightful and endearing portrayal of a cross-cultural grandparent-grandchild relationship that is evolving and deeply loving. Summer North Coming-Winter North Coming (March), by Doris Bentley and Jessica Bromley B …

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Celebrating Short Books

During February—the shortest month—we'll be paying respects to the shortest books, short stories, novellas, and novels that do not sprawl. Because who doesn't love a slim volume, a book that reads up quick, all the literary value in half the time? With a short book too, an author is going to have more luck getting their reader to take up a challenge, partake in the experimental, and dare to read difficult. Because with a short book that is difficult, you can always read it twice or more just to puzzle it out.

And of course, as always, there are so many books and so little time (and not just in February). So to that end, we've compiled a list of award-winning Canadian fiction that clocks in at 225 pages or less—an excellent chance to meet your reading goals , or to score a Book Club pick that everyone stands a chance of actually getting through. 

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Fifteen Dogs, by André Alexis (160 pages)

About the book: – I wonder, said Hermes, what it would be like if animals had human intelligence.

– I'll wager a year's servitude, answered Apollo, that animals—any animal you like—would be even more unhappy than humans are, if they were given human intelligence.

And so it begins: a bet between the gods Hermes and Apollo leads them to grant human consciousness and lang …

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