Off the Page

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

Latest Blog Posts
The Chat with Anthony De Sa

The Chat with Anthony De Sa

By Trevor Corkum

We continue our summer edition of The Chat in conversation with Toronto writer Anthony De Sa. His new novel, Children of …

read more >
Book Cover The Work

Most Anticipated: 2019 Fall Fiction Preview

By 49th Shelf Staff

The novels, story collections, and drama that readers will be loving in the second half of 2019. 

read more >
Shelf Talkers: Marilyn Monroe, YA Romance, Magic Basketball, and More

Shelf Talkers: Marilyn Monroe, YA Romance, Magic Basketball, and More

By Rob Wiersema

In a lot of ways, reading is the perfect summer reading project: you get to accomplish something AND you don’t have to …

read more >
Book Cover Seaside Treasures

Books Beat Boredom: 8 Things for Your Kids to Do this Summer

By Kerry Clare

Engaging titles that also suggest amazing ways to engage with and have fun in the natural world. 

read more >
Book Cover Simon and Louise

Super Summer Reading Guide

By Kerry Clare

20 titles that are sure to delight you. 

read more >
Logo Read By the Sea Festival

Your 2019 Guide to Summer Literary Festivals

By Kerry Clare

Good things are happening across the country! 

read more >
Leading Students on a Path of Self-Discovery: Sadia by Colleen Nelson

Leading Students on a Path of Self-Discovery: Sadia by Colleen Nelson

By Geoffrey Ruggero

As a fifteen-year-old adjusting to life in high school, Sadia begins to realize that growing up in Winnipeg brings many …

read more >
The Chat with Kris Bertin

The Chat with Kris Bertin

By Trevor Corkum

Kris Bertin is back. The Halifax-based writer’s highly anticipated second collection of short fiction, Use Your Imagin …

read more >
Book Cover The Little Hummingbird

Notes from a Children's Librarian: Text to Text

By Julie Booker

As part of the Language curriculum, primary readers are asked to make connections between books, identifying similaritie …

read more >

Indebtedness: A List by Jared Bland

Jared Bland Headshot

We all owe debts. Some are to mentors; some are to Visa. Writers, like all artists, are eternally in debt: to the books they borrow from, to the readers who support them, to the colleagues who inspire them, to the centuries of writers who’ve come before. In that spirit, what follows is a reading list of owing and being owed.

Cover Bloom

Michael Lista—Bloom

Every poem in Michael Lista’s first book is based on another poem, an aggressive intellectual experiment that explores the boundaries of borrowing in an effort to destabilize the reader’s relationship with both the poems in question and the broader Western poetic tradition. It’s an enormous gamble, and one that really shouldn’t work. But in Lista’s gifted hands, it does, and what results is a bracing and challenging collection that is as ambitious as it is beautiful.

Book Cover Better Living Through Plastic Explosives

Zsuzsi Gartner­­—B …

Continue reading >

Our Coast-to-Coast Guide to Word on the Street 2011

Word on the Street Logo

This Sunday September 25th, Canadians coast-to-coast will take to the street for The Word on the Street National Book & Magazine Festival. This year the festival, which began in Toronto in 1990, will take place in six Candian cities: Vancouver, Lethbridge, Saskatoon, Kitchener, Toronto and Halifax. With its tagline, "Celebrating Reading, Advocating Literacy," WOTS is a chance for Canadians to learn about and support local literacy causes, as well as connect with some of the people behind the best books and magazines this country has to offer.

In Vancouver the festival runs for three days (September 23-25). Not to be missed is Charlotte Gill, whose book Eating Dirt has just been shortlisted for the Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for nonfiction. Also be sure to check out poet Aisha Sasha John, Wayde Compton (whose book After Canaan is up for the Vancouver Book Award), Jen Sookfong Lee, kids writer Vikki VanSikkle, Kevin Chong, short story writer Samuel Thomas Martin, Campie author Barbara Stewart, Governor General's Award-winning writer John Vaillant, awesome poet Sachiko Murakami, and Andrew Nikiforuk,whose most recent book is Empire of the Beetle.

Angie Abdou (whose novel The Bone Cage was a 2011 Canada Reads contender) reads at the Word on the Street in Lethbr …

Continue reading >

Put a Bird On It

There are times that we at the Canadian Bookshelf miss the non-bookish zeitgeist boat, and so it was only quite recently that we discovered the very funny "Put a Bird on It" sketch from the television series Portlandia. The sketch is clearly onto something, however, and it's not just handbags and lampshades that have been receiving the Put a Bird Treatment lately. Many recent Canadian books have been similarly bedecked, including the usual suspects (avian guides), but also poetry books, memoirs and novels. Bird books, it turns out, aren't so rare after all, but we think they're kind of lovely.

Check out the Complete Canadian Bookshelf Put a Bird on It Books List, with some of our favourite birdish picks featured below:

Book Cover Bedside Book of Birds

The Bedside Book of Birds by Graeme Gibson








Book Cover The Crow's Vow

The Crow's Vow by Susan Briscoe








Book Cover One Bird's Choice

One Bird's Choice by Iain Reid








Continue reading >

Rebecca Rosenblum and Mark Sampson on loving an author, and the momentous highs (and moronic lows) of the writer's life.

Rebecca Rosenblum and Mark Sampson, writer couple.

Writers can be dissatisfied, wistful, complex. Manic, gleeful, hyperbolic. Imagine then two writers living together, day in and out. What is it like to work and live beside someone who shares your professional aspirations? What is like to love that person? I chat with Rebecca Rosenblum and Mark Sampson, writers and romantic partners, about how they make room in their household for evolving stories and stringent writing schedules.

If you're in Toronto, please join us at the launch of Rebecca's latest short story collection, The Big Dream, published by Biblioasis. Interviewed by Canadian Bookshelf's own Kerry Clare, you'll also get to catch a glimpse of two longtime friends on stage.

When: TONIGHT. Tuesday, September, 20, 7 p.m.
Where: Dora Keogh, 141 Danforth Avenue

Julie Wilson: As partners, how does your support of one another's career manifest itself? Time? Space? Personal sacrifice? First reads?

Rebecca Rosenblum: Well, whatever it takes, I guess. It's good to be able to bring a dysfunctional story, or an impersonal rejection, or whatever writing blow I've received to Mark and know I don't have to explain why it sucks. We do first read for each other sometimes--it's a little fraught, because obviously his opinion matters a lot to me and I'm more emotional reacting t …

Continue reading >

How to be a good creative writing student: Guest Post by Kevin Chong

Kevin Chong Photo

If you’re in a creative writing class, you will likely find yourself in a conversation with someone who insists that “writing cannot be taught.” Don’t argue with that person. Don’t talk about Gertrude Stein tutoring Hemingway in Paris, or name the many writers who come from these programs who don’t fit any set mould.

The best thing to do would be to nod agreeably. This person can’t be helped; they live in another reality. In 2011, “Can creative writing can be taught?” is a question that’s about as relevant as “Is nuclear proliferation the best way to peaceably resolve the Cold War?” or “Should I own a refrigerator?” It would be harder for anyone seeking to publish literary writing to avoid a writing workshop than to attend a class run by a university, college, or arts centre.

With this in mind, the question should be “how can I be the best creative writing student I can be?” Well, it depends. Here is some contradictory advice:

Drink a Lot. Excess seemed to work for some writers like Hunter S. Thompson and Kingsley Amis. Socializing, and the community that can arise from elbow-tipping, might take the edge off the solitude of writing.

Don’t Drink a Lot. If you wanted to be a better golfer, would you start by sleeping with hundreds of i …

Continue reading >

The Randomizer

Load New Book >
Contacting facebook
Please wait...