Off the Page

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

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Book Cover Skin House

Outsider Books: This Is a Party I Would Go To

By Michael Blouin

The author of new novel Skin House on other books featuring outsider perspectives. 

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Book Cover Gather

Seafood and Chorizo Paella, from GATHER: A DIRTY APRON COOKBOOK

By David Robertson

An excerpt from a new book by author of the bestselling Dirty Apron Cookbook.

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Book Cover WORRY

The Books Behind WORRY

By Jessica Westhead

Jessica Westhead recommends books that informed her work as she wrote her new novel, Worry

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BooK Cover Freshly Picked

Freshly Picked: Amazing Food Books

By Jane Reid

A selection of inspiring books just perfect for harvest time. 

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Quick Hits: 6 Books for Teens this Fall

Quick Hits: 6 Books for Teens this Fall

By Kiley Turner

These new books span everything from disability and difference to grief and homelessness – and so much in between. The …

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The Chat with Michael Crummey

The Chat with Michael Crummey

By Trevor Corkum

Michael Crummey was recently longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize for his novel The Innocents, a haunting story of …

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Celebrating & Exploring Indigenous Languages Through Literature

Celebrating & Exploring Indigenous Languages Through Literature

By Ian McCallum

Indigenous languages are an important aspect of daily life in Canada. Many provinces, town and city names, landmarks, bo …

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Book Cover A Killer in King's Cover

Reese's Book Club: CanLit Match-Ups

By Kerry Clare

Definitely keep these in mind for your book club and when you're planning your next great read. 

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The Buzz: 5 New Books with Great Reviews

The Buzz: 5 New Books with Great Reviews

By Kiley Turner

Part of the excitement of a new literary season is watching certain books build momentum because of great reviews and bl …

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Book Cover In My Own Moccasins

Great Companions: Because Two Books Are Better than One

By Kerry Clare

New pairs of amazing nonfiction titles about trees, family histories, grief, nature, and more. 

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The Fertility Closet: Guest Post by Karleen Pendleton Jiménez

Book Cover How to Get a Girl Pregnant

Great Aunt Margaret whispered it to me once on a summer afternoon in her apartment. She was in her early nineties by then, and had been more of a grandma to us than our “real” ones. She and Uncle Milo always hugged us, told us they loved us, kept toys at their home for us to play with, cooked turkeys, baked persimmon pudding.

“You know,” she says sipping her tea, “we tried. We tried for years,” she shrugs, “But doctors didn’t know all the stuff they do now.”

I can barely pull my eyes up to make contact with hers. I always wanted to know why she didn’t have kids, given her joy at spending time with us and with the neighborhood kids. I’d asked around the family but nobody seemed to know. Nobody had ever talked about it with her.

“Of course the problems must’ve been from his side of the family, not ours” she chuckles and I see the familiar twinkle in her eyes return.

Her confession came a decade before I hit the fertility market, but her soft words stuck with me. I was sad for my Great Aunt Margaret who had been so generous to her (grand) nephews and nieces, but couldn’t have a baby, and hadn’t adopted. I was sad that it was such a secret, something others gossiped about.

I came to understand just how profoundly silence can shape the pr …

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A Shelf of Small Press Books: a list by Theresa Kishkan

Given the economics of contemporary publishing, it strikes me as something of a miracle that so many small presses continue to publish such interesting and beautiful books. Often they are books that would not be picked up by the larger houses yet they find loyal readers and contribute significantly to literary culture. Sometimes it’s hard to find them. Most small presses can’t afford full-page ads in the nation’s newspapers or publicists. But word travels by mouth, by the passing of these volumes from one hand to another. They’re worth the search.

Dragonflies, by Grant Buday: This brief novel is an account of the period during the Trojan War when Agamemnon asks the crafty Odysseus to come up with something ingenious to bring the bloody conflict to a conclusion. The reader is taken into the heat and sweat of the Greek camp outside the gates of Troy, and into the claustrophobic interior of that iconic horse as the warriors wait for their moment. Superbly written and designed.

The Nettle Spinner

The Nettle Spinner, by Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer: An elegant weaving of fairy-t …

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In Conversation With: Nutritionist @JulieDaniluk (Meals That Heal Inflammation) talks cravings and the path to healing. (cc: @RandomHouseCA)

Julie Daniluk, author of Meals That Heal Inflammation.

Julie Daniluk, host of Healthy Gourmet.

Walk with me, barefoot in the snow, back to the summer of 2006 where a group of post grad book publishing students have just presented their final project, a hypothetical publishing house. I was one such student and presented a hypothetical title written by a young nutritionist I knew from The Big Carrot in Toronto. Flash forward, and Julie Daniluk—having since added TV Host to her many gigs—has indeed written her first book, Meals That Heal Inflammation: Embrace Healthy Living and Eliminate Pain, One Meal at a Time (Random House).

What better way to catch up with Julie than to ask her a few questions for Canadian Bookshelf?

In particular, we focus on the often complicated and conflicted emotions that accompany a shift in diet, how to counteract the fear and shame of giving our bodies what they need to heal, and how to start that conversation with our loved ones.

Julie Wilson: I'd like to theme the questions, if possible, around the emotional legwork one needs to do to get to healthful place of self-worth, to make a choice that is best for their own mind and body and not the needs of their friends and family. My guess is that there's a lot of shame and fear ass …

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Unlikely Inspirations: Guest Post By Mark Lavorato


Things weren’t looking good. I was hitchhiking on a lonely, secondary road in the Maritimes, it had just started to rain, and the night was quickly sinking into the landscape around me, colours taking on ever-dimmer shades of grey. I heard a minivan hissing over the horizon and turned to walk backwards, a half-hearted thumb held out into the road, knowing that, in terms of getting a ride, the odds were certainly not in my favour. A family car, the rain, the dark, the isolation, my beard. I’d be lucky if the driver didn’t speed up just to better spray me on the fly-by.

But this minivan, which looked to be fresh out of a showroom, slowed down, swerved, and came to a stop right in front of me. I opened the door to a hesitant, middle-aged man. “I… I’ve never picked up a hitchhiker before,” he admitted. “Is there some… protocol, something I should be asking you?”

“Uh. Well, generally you ask where I’m headed. Then, if we’re going the same way, you tell me where you’ll likely let me off. And that’s it. So I’ll start. I’m heading to PEI.”

He nodded slowly, thoughtfully. “PEI. I think I might be going there too.”

So we drove, through the long, quiet dark, and we talked for hours. He was balding, slightly overweight, and was living out the quintessential mid-life crisis. The second his divorce papers had been finalized, he sold his house, quit his job, bought a van, and filled three Rubbermaid containers with pricey outdoor gear he had yet to u …

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Margaret MacMillan on Canadian Memoirs and Diaries

Book Cover Concubine's children

Denise Chong, The Concubine’s Children. A family history starting with Chong’s grandfather and his two wives, the official and the concubine. The first stayed in China with some of the children, the second made a life in Canada. The two families suffered very different fates. A vivid account which raises bigger issues about the immigrant experience and how there can be both losses and gains.


Book Cover And Now Here's Max

Max Ferguson, And Now... Here’s Max. Both very funny and interesting as you would expect from a man who in his time was a leading broadcaster and a comedian. Interesting too about the CBC sixty years ago.


book cover washington stories

Allan Gotlieb, The Washington Diaries. Allan Gotlieb was the senior civil servant in the Department of Foreign Affairs when Prime Minister Trudeau appointed him Canada’s ambassador to Washington. Gotlieb had a ringside seat in the Reagan administ …

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