Off the Page

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

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Book Cover Butterfly

Ottawa Writing: Light and Dark, Sepia Toned and Noir

By [Kerry Clare]

A recommended reading list by John Delacourt, whose latest book is Butterfly

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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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What is a Canadian Bookshelf?


Whether a tower of milk-crates, a high-end built-in unit, or a couple of two-by-fours propped up with bricks, the Canadian bookshelf is a various thing. It contains all the CanLit you studied in school, Fifth Business and The Stone Angel. Or else it’s stocked by nonfiction fiends who can’t get enough of Malcolm Gladwell, the Franklin Expedition, or Peter C. Newman political biographies. It holds innovative and challenging works by independent presses like Coach House, Gaspereau or Biblioasis, as well as novels written by women called Margaret, or by Pierre Berton or Farley Mowat.

There is young adult fiction with adult appeal, from Anne of Green Gables to Susan Juby. Or children’s books written by Robert Munsch, Sheree Fitch, Marie-Louise Gay and Marthe Jocelyn. Short story collections by Mavis Gallant, Alice Munro, Alexander MacLeod, Zsuzsi Gartner and Sarah Selecky. Cookbooks, craft books and books about Canadian wine. It’s got graphic novels by Mariko and Jillian Tamaki, or anything by Drawn & Quarterly. Not to mention Margaret Atwood’s Survival and Noah Richler’s This is My Country, What is Yours? Marshall McLuhan and Northrop Frye. Or Joy Fielding and Kelley Armstrong.

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Books to discover: The 2011 Atlantic Book Awards

tagged : features

Atlantic Canada shone a light on itself in 2010, with a great many acclaimed Canadian books coming from the region. These successes and others were recognized on May 19 at the 2011 Atlantic Book Awards in Dartmouth NS, where Kathleen Winter won the prestigious Thomas Head Raddall Atlantic Fiction Prize for her novel Annabel.

Winter’s fellow Giller nominees Alexander MacLeod and Johanna Skibsrud were also recognized, MacLeod receiving the Margaret John Savage First Book Award for Light Lifting and Skibsrud taking the Atlantic Independent Booksellers Choice Award for The Sentimentalists.


In addition to these well-known works is a whole host of new books for Canadian readers to discover from a wide range of genres including historical writing (Rusty Bittermann for Sailor’s Hope: The Life and Times of William Cooper, Agrarian Radical in an Age of Revolution) and crime fiction (Anne Emery taking the Jim Connors Dartmouth Book Award for Fiction for Children in the Morning). Non-fiction prizes were awarded to Jerry Lockett (writer and sailor!) for Captain J …

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Does the great Canadian cottage novel have yet to be written?


On this Victoria Day long weekend, Canadians will travel to cottage country to mark the unofficial start of summer, although many of us will only make the journey in our minds. We’ll have to be content to imagine a sunset reflected on a still lake, the smoky smell of a bonfire, and the crack of a screen-door slam. And perhaps we could be aided in our journey with the help of a little fiction, but maybe not. Could it really be that, as Globe and Mail reviewer Darryl Whetter has stated, “the great Canadian cottage novel” has yet to be written?

There are certainly candidates for the title. And though it’s not a novel, Sarah Selecky’s story “Throwing Cotton” (from her collection This Cake is for the Party) exactly fits the description of the cottage book that Whetter is calling for: “a work devoted to a friendship- and romance-sundering long weekend away in which two or more couples fight, gossip, shift allegiances and repeatedly contemplate infidelity – if not a boozy orgy”.


Margaret Atwood’s Surfacing could be loosely termed a cottage n …

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Interview with a video wrangler: Jen Knoch, on keeping her city reading

Jen Knoch runs the Keeping it Real Book Club, and Keeps Toronto Reading (in conjunction with the Toronto Public Library’s April campaigns) by curating a series of one-minute video pitches by avid readers for their favourite books. We were interested to discover just how a library patron becomes partner in a literacy campaign, and to find out why Jen can’t get enough of these video book recommendations.

Jennifer Knoch

CB: You've written before about the great relationship you have with the Toronto Public Library. But how did you become their Keep Toronto Reading video wrangler?

JK: I think I just sort of just fell into it. Kismet perhaps? When I came across the Keep Toronto Reading campaign last year I thought it was wonderful, and totally in line with the mandate of my book club-cum-blog, which emphasizes offering passionate recommendations for books you love. I'd just come off doing one-minute video pitches for the CBC for Canada Reads, so I was feeling pretty comfortable with the medium (and with pressuring others into doing using it).

So I decided to try and get enough people to make video recommendations that I could release one a day for all of April. Not long after I declared my intentions, Ab from the TPL got in touch and said they'd like to feature the videos a …

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Power and Politics (List by Jonathan Bennett)

It's not all crooked cops and murder in Jonathan Bennett's novel Entitlement, which is also a gripping examination of power and politics in Canada. On the occasion


of the upcoming federal election, Jonathan has provided us with a few more books to round out our literary education in power and politics. And it's not all crooked cops and murder here either-- check out the range, from poetry to comic fiction, and non-fiction with intentions noble and/or scandalous. Truly, there is something for everyone.

Jonathan Bennett is the author of five books including, most recently, Entitlement and a book of poems Civil and Civic.



1) Power Politics: poems, Margaret Atwood

This seminal volume was first published in 1971. Happy 40th birthday. Yes, it’s been that long. Wondering what’s changed? Best to re-read it…

you fit into me/ like a hook into an eye

a fish hook/ an open eye


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