Off the Page

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

Latest Blog Posts
Book Cover Counting on Katherine

Exploring Space: Notes From a Children's Librarian

By [Kerry Clare]

Reading the books on this list (which complement the Grade 6 Science and Technology Unit) will result in a thirst for al …

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Book Cover Philomela Unloved

Christene A. Browne Takes #MeToo Further

By [Kerry Clare]

Broadening the celebrity-obsessed discussion around sexual assault and mental illness to give voice to the violence that …

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Book Cover Nobody Cares

Anne T. Donahue Doesn't Think of You At All

By [Kerry Clare]

The author of Nobody Cares on growing up, getting it together, and why she doesn't fear cheese-loving Toni Collette fans …

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Book Cover The Cowkeeper's Wish

Tracy Kasaboski and Kristen den Hartog on Writing History

By [Kerry Clare]

Authors of new book The Cowkeeper's Wish on their writing process, and the books that inspired them along the way.

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Book Cover The Suitcase and the Jar

Becky Livingston on Endings, Courage, Uncertainty, and Surrender

By [Kerry Clare]

Book recommendations by the author of new memoir of grief and travel, The Suitcase and the Jar. 

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The Chat with Craig Davidson

The Chat with Craig Davidson

By [Trevor Corkum]

Craig Davidson has returned with his latest novel, The Saturday Night Ghost Club. It tells the tale of Jake Baker, a neu …

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Book Cover In Valhalla's Shadows

Valgardson’s Reading List

By [Kerry Clare]

A recommended reading list by the author of new book In Valhalla's Shadows

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Shelf Talkers: Women, Songs, Oceans, Freedom, and Hellfire

Shelf Talkers: Women, Songs, Oceans, Freedom, and Hellfire

By [Rob Wiersema]

These are all fiction, all novels, but it’s striking just how close these picks hew to the real world, and what is goi …

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Book Cover the Luminous Sea

The Syllabus: Back-to-School Books for Grownups

By [Kerry Clare]

Campus novels, literary homages, and historical imaginings. 

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The Recommend for September 2018

The Recommend for September 2018

By [Kiley Turner]

This week we're pleased to present the picks of Sarah Selecky, author of Radiant Shimmering Light; Jennifer Robson, auth …

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The Personal Book Shopper Contest: July's Book Picks Revealed #mybookshopper

personal book shopper

Congratulations to the winners of July's Personal Book Shopper Contest!

Our panelists went to their corners, their hidey-holes, their secret places and have come back with their individual picks for each winner, using only five words! Crazy!

Let's meet our panelists:

Door #1: Corey Redekop writes sometimes (see: Shelf Monkey), publicizes the works of others more often (see: Goose Lane Editions), and aggrandizes himself most of all (see: his inflated sense of self-worth [you can see it from space!]). (Ed. Corey submitted his own bio. I can only see his sense of self-worth on sunny days between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Get on it, Corey!)
Door #2: Ryan Deschamps is twitterin' knitterin' former Haligonian, new Reginian librarian, who likes readable non-fiction, zombies and super heroes.
Door #3: It's a new car . . . and Steph VanderMeulen, indie bookseller, book blogger at Bella's Bookshelves and freelance copyeditor.

Our winners:

Shelley Savor: readaholic, greenishblue, curious, driven, pensive
Tracey G. Paris: Swims deep but loves deeper.
Avis Anderson: quiet, quirky, questioning, québécoise, quibbler

Corey's Picks:

Shelley Savor: readaholic, greenishblue, curious, driven, pensive
Shining at the Bottom of the Sea, (Penguin) by Stephen Marche
The World More Full of …

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Jessica Westhead on Ottawa's Octopus Books

Jessica Westhead's latest book is the story collection And Also Sharks, and she is also author of the novel Pulpy & Midge. In her Canadian Bookshelf guest post, she celebrates Ottawa's Octopus Books and Lisa Greaves, the woman at its helm.

I first met Lisa Greaves in fall 2007, on a Coach House book tour stop at the Plan 99 Reading series at the Manx in Ottawa. After I read from my then-new first novel, Pulpy & Midge, a grinning blonde woman made my night by telling me how much she’d enjoyed the excerpt. She introduced herself and said she owned a bookstore in town, and would I like to read there some time? I said I’d love to.

Photo of Lisa Greaves, Octopus Books

Lisa Greaves, Octopus Books owner-of-amazingness

We hatched a plan for me to visit Octopus Books that spring, along with local author and Octo-pal Jennifer Whiteford. On Wednesday, March 19, 2008, embraced by crammed, colourful bookshelves and a small but very friendly crowd, Jennifer read from her awesome young adult novel grrrl, and I read from Pulpy. Then we launched into an impromptu Q&A session and animated literary gabfest, fuelled by Lisa’s wine and her giddy enthusiasm for both of our books.

I saw Lisa and Jennifer again at Octopus Books’ 40th birthday celebration t …

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We think we know them, but we have no idea

Freehand Books Logo

Sure, we think we know them. Sarah Leavitt, author of the graphic memoir Tangles: A Story About Alzheimer’s, My Mother and Me. She’s the curly-haired cartoon narrator of her own book, which documents her mother’s decline and death from Alzheimer’s Disease. And then there’s Andrew Westoll, primatologist-turned-animal-rights-activist. Though his book The Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary, he’s brought the world the story of his experiences at Quebec’s Fauna Sanctuary, where traumatized chimpanzee victims of medical experiments receive rehabilitation.

But of course, readers have no idea, a reality addressed by both writers in a conversation at Ben McNally Books in Toronto on July 19th. “You Think You Know Me, But You Have No Idea” was presented by Freehand Books, our own Bookmadam, and also Canadian Bookshelf. (A similar event was held on July 20 in Kingston with Leavitt and essayist Susan Olding.) Leavitt and Westoll told the stories of their stories, compared notes, discussed the ethics of memoir and nonfiction, and shattered some illusions about the nonfiction writer’s adherence to truth above all.

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The Personal Book Shopper Contest: July #mybookshopper

personal book shopper

Welcome back to The Personal Book Shopper Contest! I'm your host, Julie Wilson (@BookMadam).

Every month, we ask readers to imagine a world—walk with me—a world in which a rotating panel of librarians, booksellers, publishers and authors put on their collective thinking hats (and feeling hearts) to select three books each for three randomly-selected winners based solely on five words those readers submitted to describe themselves. You can imagine, it yields a wide variety of results, which is just how we like it!

Check out June's results to see how it all went down.

We've fired up a Facebook event for July's contest and already a few early birds have shared their words. Here's a sample: natural nomad -- greeniac -- circular rainbow; yackademic, energetic, optimistic, apoplectic, winsome mystic, goofball; tenacious, optimistic, thoughtful, good listener, sensitive.

What are your words this month? To enter:

1) Add your words to this month's Facebook event here. (Feel free to "Share" the event with your friends!)

2) Reply to @cdnbookshelf on Twitter with your five words and the hashtag #mybookshopper.

Get to it, word nerds! (She said with much affection.)

Contest closes tomorrow: Wednesday, July 20 at 2:00 p.m. ET.

This month's winners, along with our guest panel, will …

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Kathleen Winter: Books that Made me Laugh out Loud in Public

Read Kathleen Winter's reading list at Canadian Bookshelf

Kathleen Winter has written dramatic and documentary scripts for Sesame Street and CBC Television. Her first collection of short stories, boYs, was the winner of both the Winterset Award and the 2006 Metcalfe-Rooke Award. Her novel Annabel was shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize, the 2010 Governer General's Awards, the 2011 Orange Prize, and won the Atlantic Fiction Prize. A long-time resident of St. John's, Newfoundland, she now lives in Montreal.

Here are six books that have made me laugh out loud on buses, in the metro, and in public waiting rooms. They are books that have rendered me helpless with teary-eyed mirth; books that have made me snort among strangers:




The Fearsome Particles on Kathleen Winter's reading list

The Fearsome Particles by Trevor Cole: I found this book so immaculately written, the language so crystalline, that for me it hummed with intelligence and became a sanctuary from the world’s inane moments as I read. I admired Cole’s ability to repeatedly plant in the story a seemingly innocuous seed which grows underground and bursts on th …

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