Off the Page

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

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Book Cover Smells Like Stars

The Space Between

By Kerry Clare

Books that challenge binary and complicate matters in the most interesting and useful ways.  

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The Chat with Téa Mutonji

The Chat with Téa Mutonji

By Trevor Corkum

Vivek Shraya launched her imprint VS. Books with Arsenal Pulp to highlight bold work by new and emerging Indigenous or B …

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Book Cover These Are Not the Potatoes

26 Books to Celebrate for Poetry Month

By 49th Shelf Staff

Featuring highlights from amazing new poetry being published this spring. 

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Book Cover War / Torn

War/Torn Identities

By Hasan Namir

A recommended reading list from the author of the new poetry collection, War / Torn

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Book Cover The Centre of the Universe

How an Email to an Astrophysicist Changed My (Book’s) Life

By Ria Voros

YA Author Ria Voros explains how two literary worlds collided—and tells the amazing story of what happened next. 

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Book Cover The Case of Windy Lake

Farley Mowat, Comics, SciFi and Manitoba

By Michael Hutchinson

A recommended reading list by Michael Hutchinson, whose Mighty Muskrats middle grade series launches with The Case of Wi …

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Choose Kindness! Kids Books that Explore This Crucial Value

Choose Kindness! Kids Books that Explore This Crucial Value

By Sarah Campbell

As parents, teachers, librarians, family, and friends, we want to raise children who know how to be kind. Reading allevi …

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The Chat with Lucas Crawford

The Chat with Lucas Crawford

By Trevor Corkum

This week, we’re in conversation with Lucas Crawford, author of The High Line Scavenger Hunt (University of Calgary Pr …

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Shelf Talkers: Whispering Words to Hasten Spring's Arrival

Shelf Talkers: Whispering Words to Hasten Spring's Arrival

By Rob Wiersema

Here in the Shelf Talkers column, we have a round-up of books for your spring reading pleasure. And, in keeping with the …

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Book Cover Light Light

Celebrating Nature with Poetry

By Kerry Clare

A special list from the League of Canadian Poets featuring poetry collections that tackle the broad theme of nature out …

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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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Verve: Check. Smarts: Check—Julie Wilson Joins as Host and Producer

tagged : staff, news

If you work in Canadian publishing, you’ve more than likely enjoyed the wit and original productions of Julie Wilson, aka Book Madam; if you’re an author, you may have been lucky enough to be interviewed by her in some irreverent or newfangled way. The force behind Book Madam & Associates and Seen Reading, and the co-founder of The Advent Book Blog, Julie describes herself as a “professional publishing fan.”


It’s this sensibility that has made Julie’s work so much more interesting than if it were just the product of an astute and tireless mind. She’s … fun! She inspires others to join her in her crazy yet amazingly effective online ventures, and makes it easy and exciting for us to find our way into books. She’s a social media whiz, which has helped her to become a major personality in a movement toward improving the conversation in this country about our brilliant writers.

As such, Canadian Bookshelf is hugely lucky to have Julie Wilson onboard as host and producer. Her work on the site will be divided between serving as:

  • Point person for incoming news from the Canadian publishing industry—major releases, events, promotions, or other newsworthy goings-on … so long as they’re relevant and compelling for readers. If you’ve got stuff reader …
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Brick Books' Poetry Podcast Channel: A Fantastic Point of Discovery


A poem on a page has its own power, but the poem comes alive in an entirely different and more accessible way when read aloud by the person who's written it. This kind of aural experience is the whole point of Brick Books' Poetry Podcast Channel, launched in celebration of Brick Books' 35 years publishing poetry. The channel is an obvious treasure trove for hardcore poetry fans, but also represents a fantastic point of discovery for booklovers who are not yet well-versed in verse (but would like to be!).

Already boasting works read by poets Karen Connelly, A.F. Moritz, Janice Kulyk Keefer, Dennis Lee, and John Reibetanz, the site promises recordings to come by Karen Solie, David Seymour, Helen Humphreys, Margaret Avison and more. The project is being produced and publicized by Julie Wilson of Book Madam & Associates, who explains, "Podcasting naturally lends itself to the performed voice, so why wouldn't a poetry publisher take advantage of 35 years' worth of poetic voices? This channel has the potential to be an extremely powerful archive of some of this country's greatest poets. That can't be underestimated, and it's worthy of great celebration."

The project releases poetry from the confines of the page and puts it out into the world on the internet, where users c …

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