Off the Page

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

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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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Book Cover Pushing the Limits

Back to School: New Books on Learning and Education

By Kerry Clare

New books about the past, present and future of education. 

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The Chat with Christy Ann Conlin

The Chat with Christy Ann Conlin

By Trevor Corkum

This week on The Chat, we’re in conversation with acclaimed East Coast writer Christy Ann Conlin. Her superb collectio …

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What's Your (Son's) Canadian bookshelf, Margaret Eaton?

This is the second installment of our "What's Your Canadian bookshelf?" feature, in which we ask extraordinary ordinary Canadians to tell us about their reading habits. Here, Margaret Eaton, President of ABC Life Literacy Canada, tells us about her experiences reading with her son. And Eaton's post is an excellent segue, actually, into Canadian Bookshelf Children's Book Week which will kick off here on Monday.

Headshot Margaret Eaton

In my professional life, I’m often asked how to make reading interesting to boys. I speak from the research on this topic, but as the mother of a 12-year old son, I feel I can speak from our experience as well made more interesting, I think, by the fact that my son is dyslexic.

I vividly recall the last day of Thomas’s grade one school year. The teacher told me that Thomas did really well, but he was a year behind in reading. Hmmm….that was news to me. I knew he was struggling, but a year behind? And you’re telling me this now? We spent the summer struggling through “Hooked on Phonics” which usually led to one or the other of us crying under the dining room table.

We finally found an amazing tutoring program that turned his life around. Truly. His whole life. My difficult, unhappy, alienated little boy (at school, anyway) became confident and happ …

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In Conversation With: Liz Bugg on the Personal and Public Performance of a Writer

Liz Bugg, author of Red Rover (Insomniac Press)

Liz Bugg is a lifelong performer: musician, actor, writer and teacher, the last of which I would argue is one of the most exhausting gigs imaginable. (No fourth wall to hide behind when you're standing at the front of a classroom.) I met with Liz to record her reading a short passage from her debut mystery Red Rover (Insomniac Press), and we got to chatting about music and the place of performance in our lives as writers.

Julie Wilson: Last winter, you followed my Twitter trials as I tried to learn the guitar. You have an extensive performance background—you actually taught guitar at one time. I joked that I wanted to learn the guitar to keep company with all the lonely campfires in the world. What first drew you to the instrument?

Liz Bugg: I became interested in the guitar, when I was about fifteen. Up to that point my musical focus had been primarily piano. I was fortunate to grow up surrounded by music. I guess you could say it was the focal point of my family. so when I was five years old, I was carted off to the conservatory to follow in my siblings’ footsteps.
 

The guitar was my idea. It was the 60s, and I was tired of playing classical piano. I was really into the whole folk music thing: Peter, Paul and Mary; Ian and Sylvia; people like that. We happened …

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Digitizing Mona: Guest Post by Maria Meindl

Book Cover Outside the Box

My desk is awash in receipts. Recently unfolded from the depths of my wallet, they keep sliding out of their designated piles. Four months since I updated my spreadsheet; I've really let things go! I circle the vital information, then enter it on my keyboard. The CD mechanism on the computer grinds, and from the tinny speakers comes a voice: Mona Gould, my grandmother, reading her poetry and telling stories from her life.

Mona is nowhere. She died in 1999 and was cremated, yet now a complex sequence of zeroes and ones brings her voice into my office this early September day. There are other sounds on the CD, the traffic on the highway outside her apartment in Barrie where the tapes were made, the clunk and whir of the original cassette machine, the banter with her friend John Ide, who had the foresight to capture her voice on tape.

A former broadcaster and poet, Mona was eighty-one years old when John undertook that recording session. Later, he transcribed the results for an art installation which allowed her to be heard again after many years of obscurity. Recently, he transferred them to CD, with plans to develop the work further.

This afternoon's combination of activities is no accident: doing my finances and listening to Mona' s voice. Only a spreadsheet could pro …

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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 …

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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 …

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