Off the Page

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

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Your 2018 Guide to Summer Literary Festivals

By [Kerry Clare]

Find out what's happening near you!

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Book Cover Weeds Find a Way

Notes from a Children's Librarian: Plants and Soil

By [Kerry Clare]

Great books to support the Grade 3 Plants and Soil Science Unit. 

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Book Cover The Fairy Tale Museum

Lost in the Woods: Fairy Tales Retold

By [Kerry Clare]

So by all means, Canadian authors: venture into the woods! There's still so much more there to be discovered.

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Book Cover Big Water

Andrea Curtis: The Weight of Water

By [Kerry Clare]

A fantastic list of books in which water features as a defining force, by the author of new novel Big Water

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The Chat with Claire Tacon

The Chat with Claire Tacon

By [Trevor Corkum]

What happens when a young woman with Williams syndrome, her doting father, and her father’s teenaged co-worker head to …

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Book Cover Gay Heritage Project

16 Books for Pride Month

By [Kerry Clare]

Time to put the spotlight on these books by LGBTQ writers and/or about LGBTQ issues, an eclectic list that includes fict …

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Book Cover the Sign for Migrant Soul

Richard Cumyn: Good Stories in Small Packages

By [Kerry Clare]

"Whenever I can, I try to shine a light on the short form in this country, to give the slim but sinewy book its due."

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Book Cover The Showrunner

All Books Are Beach Books: Get Your Summer Reads Locked In

By [Kerry Clare]

From this eclectic selection, you're sure to find a book that suits you perfectly. 

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Book Cover Pulse Point

Best Dystopian YA

By [Kerry Clare]

"My favourite part of reading dystopian books is learning the many versions of our world that authors create."

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Quick Hits: 5 Books with Awesome Reviews

Quick Hits: 5 Books with Awesome Reviews

By [Kiley Turner]

In Quick Hits, we look through our stacks to bring you books that, when they were published, elicited a lot of reaction …

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Tanis Rideout Roughs It: Canadian Adventure Books

Never Cry Wolf by Farley Mowat: It’s a Canadian classic and the kind of tale most people think of when asked about Canadian adventures. Farley Mowat travels to the frozen tundra to track and study arctic wolf populations at the behest of the Canadian Government. Alone. And while the book may or may not be factually accurate, it does paint a visceral, beautiful and, at times, hilarious picture of Canada’s far north—panicked encounters with wolves, the ritual marking of the territory, assistance from local guides and a plea to protect Canada’s resources. Mowat’s tone and characterisations might read a little dated, but his anger and grief about how the government manages our resources sure is resonant today.

Roughing it in the Bush by Susanna Moodie: Another classic and one of Canada’s first adventure books—a journal of what it was like to try and tame the wilds of Upper Canada in the 1830s when the Canadian men were boors and the Canadian women were bores. Moodie and her husband face down illness, starvation, fire, failed crops,  and stolen l …

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Bob Armstrong's Father's Day Books List

Dadolescence by Bob Armstrong: Stay-at-home fathers were all over the TV screen and book shelves last year, including in my debut novel, which featured a trio of them. My protagonist, forty-something Bill Angus, doesn’t think of himself as a stay-at-home father. He’s an anthropologist conducting participatory-observer studies of the phenomenon of stay-at-home fathers, and in the process asking “What is a man when he isn’t going out into a hostile environment to wrest a living for his family?”

Book Cover The Antagonist

The Antagonist by Lynn Coady: At the heart of this tragicomic story of a young man drawn into violence is a fraught but loving father-and-son relationship. Lynn Coady’s 2011 novel, shortlisted for the 2011 Scotiabank Giller Prize. is also an exploration of the impact of the mythology of rock-'em sock-'em hockey on Canadian masculinity.

The Fears …

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New Read Local Summer Theme: The Great Outdoors

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Are you bristling in your desk chair right now just itching to get outside and start enjoying Canada’s awesome summer pastimes? We can think of a few tantalizing ideas to make you even more restless: hiking, canoeing, picnicking, biking, barbequeing, fishing … And that’s a short list, of course.

Until you get a chance to bolt, relieve some of the pressure and pin some local, outdoorsy books to the Read Local Map under The Great Outdoors theme. The basic guidelines for this theme? If the book’s about something you can do outside, and it’s about or set in a specific Canadian place, it should make it to the map.

Click here for more on how to participate in Read Local.

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Samuel Martin: If the Writer Builds a Fire, the Reader Will Come to Watch You Burn

A Blessed Snarl by Samuel Martin (Breakwater Books).

Samuel Thomas Martin is the author of This Ramshackle Tabernacle (Breakwater Books), which was shortlisted for the 2010 BMO Winterset Award and longlisted for the 2011 ReLit Award for Short Fiction, and the novel A Blessed Snarl, also from Breakwater Books, about a man who moves his family back to Newfoundland to start a new Pentecostal church.

Originally from Ontario, Martin now lives in Newfoundland with his wife Samantha and their dog Vader.



Find Martin at his "e-nook out of the pull of the Google slipstream," The Dark Art Cafe.

(Read Sam's post on finding the right book at the right time.)

Julie Wilson: Your collection of short stories, This Ramshackle Tabernacle, is set in and around the fictional villages of St. Lola and St. Olga in northeastern Ontario. Why was it important to locate the stories in a particular kind of place, a recognizable one, while not naming those places as they currently exist?

Sam Martin: In rural communities, people know each other and, at least in my hometown, there is a lot of emphasis on telling stories—true stories—and getting the details right. You can’t have people over for coffee without storytelling and part of that is cutting in and saying, "That’s not how it happened," or "Come on now, get it right." So, to write fi …

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Katrina Onstad: Books with a Sense of Place

Katrina Onstad

When you say “sense of place” and “CanLit” in the same breath, everyone scurries over to Mordecai Richler and Montreal’s St. Urbain Street, or to the Bloor St. viaduct in Toronto that cuts through In the Skin of a Lion. I bow down before both (and my initials mean I get to rub up against Ondaatje on the shelves), but they aren’t the ones that moved me most. I love a book in which setting anchors the story with atmosphere and meaning, sometimes becoming character itself, or lending characters their motivations. But a personal connection to setting is something special between the reader and the writer: “The author knows the place I live better than I do” or “Now that place is changed to me forever.”

I appreciate many great novels where the setting isn’t even known, but these aren’t those; these are some books that, if the location changed, the story would be utterly different—to me, anyway.

Eleanor Rigby by Douglas Coupland: No one has dissected Vancouver more than Coupland, granting sympathy and hopefulness to that frustrating gla …

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