Off the Page

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

Latest Blog Posts
Book Cover When Raven Becomes Spider

Illustrators' Gallery: When Raven Became Spider

By [Kerry Clare]

On supernatural characters in Indigenous art and modern comic superheroes.

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Book Cover Malaika's Costume

Notes from a Children's Librarian: Books on Respect

By [Kerry Clare]

Books about respecting differences, community, one's own self, and the earth.

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Book Cover A Bird on Every Tree

Carol Bruneau: Change Your Take on Nova Scotia Lit

By [Kerry Clare]

"This is no mere exercise in voice: this is a reflection of a writer utterly in touch with her stories—not only what t …

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The Chat With Naben Ruthnum

The Chat With Naben Ruthnum

By [Trevor Corkum]

We’re leading off the fall in conversation with Naben Ruthnum, author of Curry: Eating, Reading, and Race. Curry is pa …

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Book Cover You Are Not Needed How

Annette Lapointe: How’d We Get All the Way Out Here?

By [Kerry Clare]

The author of You Are Not Needed Now on stories whose characters are found in strange and unexpected places. 

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Book Cover Snacks

YUM! Janis Thiessen on Canadian Snack Food

By [Kerry Clare]

Hawkins Cheezies, anybody? Yes, please! 

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Logo Whistler's Writers Festival

Your Fall 2017 Literary Festival Guide

By [Kerry Clare]

We've been waiting for this all year long...

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Shelf Talkers: Back to School and Beyond

Shelf Talkers: Back to School and Beyond

By [Rob Wiersema]

For possibly the first time in this column’s history, two of our booksellers have chosen the same book.

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Book Cover The Burning Girl

A Conversation with Claire Messud

By [Kerry Clare]

The Giller Award-nominated Messud on her new book, The Burning Girl, plus quarries, teenage time, and her favourite Cana …

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"You Will Believe..." Guest Post by Robert J. Wiersema


Robert J. Wiersema is an independent bookseller, a reviewer who contributes regularly to several national newspapers, and the bestselling author of two novels, Before I Wake and Bedtime Story. He lives in Victoria, British Columbia.

For the last several years now, I've had a standing date with my son Xander.

I've written about this before, and I'm sure I will again1: unless I'm severely under deadline, or out of town, Xander and I spend weekend mornings hanging out. His mom, Cori, works a couple of jobs, does some freelancing, and homeschools Xander and gets him to all of his programs, week in, week out. She deserves a break. So Saturday & Sunday mornings she gets to sleep in, and I get to hang out with the boyo, who turns twelve this summer, and watch TV.

Watching TV with your child might not seem like a big deal, but those weekend mornings are among the highlights of my week. Spending one-on-one time with Xander is, of course, pleasure enough, but watching TV, and the kind of TV we watch, gives both of us a common space, a terrain in which to meet, a shared language, and the subject material for long hours of conversation2.

We don't watch just any TV, though. For Xander and I, it's the slightly harder-edged, semi-serial stuff: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel the Ser …

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English-Quebec Fiction (by Elise Moser)

With great selections and thoughtful annotations, Elise Moser offers her English-Quebec Fiction reading list. Elise Moser's novel Because I Have Loved and Hidden It was published by Cormorant Books. She is currently president of the Quebec Writers' Federation, lives in Montreal, and reads a lot of English Quebec fiction. She also notes that, of course, there are MANY more than six wonderful English Quebec books...


Earth and High Heaven, Gwethalyn Graham

First published in 1944, there is nothing dated about it, in style or content. Graham creates a vivid picture of Montreal in wartime, deftly managing all manner of issues (sexism, anti-Semitism, Canadian/Quebec politics, cities versus “the regions”) without ever falling into didacticism or losing her focus on the human drama. Heroine Erika Drake (“of the Westmount Drakes”) is a riveting figure of intelligence, flair, and powerful integrity.


The Speaking Cure, David Homel

This book is full of striking images: poets who are also war criminals, a woman who wears a bulletproof shirt during sex, asylum …

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The Personal Book Shopper: June's Picks Revealed

personal book shopper

The day has arrived! Our panelists for the June edition of The Personal Book Shopper Contest have come back with their picks for this month's winners.

Remember, we do this all again next month. Mark your calendars for Tuesday, July 19 at 10:00 a.m. and look to us on Twitter at @cdnbookshelf and on Facebook for reminders.

Let's meet the panelists again, shall we?

Shelley Macbeth is the force behind one of my favourite independent bookstores, Blue Heron Books in Uxbridge, ON.
Aaron Brown is the force behind the CanLit blog The Canadian Book Review.
Julie Forrest is the force behind—I'm sensing a theme here—the litblog Read, Play, Blog and the Founder of the This Ain't Your Mother's Book Club. (She's also a publishing professional known to just about every blogger across this great country.)
Ashley Winnington-Ball is the force behind the entire Universe. Oh, fine. She's just severely well (and widely) read and one ridiculously good jewellery designer.

Now to the picks! Each winner will receive four books as selected for them by our panelists. And you, dear Reader, will walk away with a recommended reading list of one, two, three, four . . . twelve books!

Steve Vernon, the panelists have spoken. Your words are: bearded, big-bellied, blustering blowhard of bookstores. …

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2011 Literary Festival Guide

Literary Festival season starts early here in Canada, with events such as Salon du Livre du Grand Sudbury, Niagara Literary Arts Festival, Whitehorse Poetry Festival, the Frye Festival in Moncton NB, and the Festival littéraire international de Montréal Metropolis bleu already behind us. Now that summer is officially here, however, things will be kicking into high gear, and you'll be hard-pressed to find a Canadian summer weekend without a literary festival in it. And so to help you navigate that busy calendar, we're pleased to bring you the 2011 Literary Festival Guide, celebrating books from coast to coast.


The Scream Literary Festival runs in Toronto from July 6-11. It's the last hurrah for this legendary fest, which culminates in an event in the middle of High Park with readers including Christian Bök, Dani Couture, Sheila Heti and Misha Glouberman. The Saskatchewan Festival of Words takes place in Moose Jaw from July 14-17, featurning Helen Humphreys, Susan Juby, Charlotte Gray, Ryan Knighton and Robert J. Sawyer amidst an absolutely stellar line-up. And then there's the Lakefield Literary Festival, in Lakefield ON, which happens July 15-17, with readers including Sarah Selecky, Trevor Cole, Alexander MacLeod, Merilyn Simonds, Suzanne Desrochers, and Lisa M …

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There is Life Among the Cubicle Dwellers: Guest Post by Rebecca Rosenblum


Rebecca Rosenblum is author of Once, which won the Metcalf-Rooke Award and was one of Quill and Quire’s 15 Books That Mattered in 2008. Her second collection, The Big Dream, is forthcoming from Biblioasis in September 2011.

My book, The Big Dream, is about people who work…among other things. I’m interested in putting work in its proper place as a big part of the lives of many of the characters I write about. I have read too many novels and stories where the main character is a freelance something or other, and never does any work at all, or where the narrative cuts from 8:30 am to 6pm as if the characters had just been asleep in a closet during that period.

However, I wasn’t interested in writing a book where all the characters live their lives mainly at the office. There are certainly people whose main emotional life is on the job, and actually I enjoy writing about them. But I also enjoy writing about people who have jobs and parents and children and lovers and ex-lovers and problems and angst and great senses of humour. I think work is very closely woven into the fabric of our lives, and that our lives are generally more complex than genre designations like “office novels,” “domestic fiction,” “romance,” etc. Though my writing is not autobiogra …

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