Off the Page

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

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Book Cover Notes Towards Recovery

Louise Ells: Short Story Stunners

By [Kerry Clare]

Collections that inspired her as she wrote her debut, Notes Towards Recovery

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

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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

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.

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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.

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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

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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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