Off the Page

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

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The Chat with Zsuzsi Gartner

The Chat with Zsuzsi Gartner

By Trevor Corkum

Zsuzsi Gartner’s debut novel, The Beguiling (Hamish Hamilton), is a stunner. It was a finalist for this year’s Write …

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Book Cover Loss Lake

Launchpad: LOSS LAKE, by Amber Cowie

By Kerry Clare

"Sentence by gorgeous sentence, Cowie reveals an intricately woven, powerful plot, unveiling the depths of the character …

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Hope Matters

25 Reasons to be Hopeful

By Kerry Clare

The following books are infused with hope—that what we do and who we are really matters, that second chances are possi …

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Book Cover Spend It

Notes From a Children's Librarian: Money Money Money

By Julie Booker

Financial literacy is part of the new math curriculum for grades 4-6. But why not start even sooner, as young as kinderg …

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Book Cover You Are Eating an Orange. You Are Naked.

Launchpad: YOU ARE EATING AN ORANGE. YOU ARE NAKED. by Sheung-King

By Kerry Clare

"This novel ...gives the cold shoulder to the dominant gaze and its demands to control the Asian body, carving out a thr …

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Book Cover The Way Home

Books for University Press Week

By Clare Hitchens

“Raise UP” is a particularly apt theme in a time when information moves at faster speeds than ever before across a m …

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Shelf Talkers: Indie Booksellers Get Us Through the End of the Year

Shelf Talkers: Indie Booksellers Get Us Through the End of the Year

By Robert J. Wiersema

To mark the passing of the year, we’ve gathered the independent booksellers of the Shelf Talkers fellowship – the st …

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Book Cover Four Umbrellas

Launchpad: FOUR UMBRELLAS, by June Hutton and Tony Wanless

By Kerry Clare

"Our goal from the outset was to write a book in which the person with Alzheimer’s has a place on the page, too."

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Book Cover The Crooked Thing

Stories that Excavate the Underworld

By Mary MacDonald

A recommended reading list by the author of new story collection The Crooked Thing.

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Book Cover Orange for the Sunsets

Seeds of a Story: 2020 Canadian Children's Book Centre Awards

By Kerry Clare

Kazakh eagle hunters, Muslim love stories, Grade 7 science class and more! Canada's most celebrated children's writers t …

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Books for University Press Week

Emphasizing the role that university presses play in elevating authors, subjects, and whole disciplines that bring new perspectives, ideas, and voices to readers around the globe, the Association of University Presses (AUPresses) has chosen “Raise UP” as the theme for this year’s University Press Week. University Press Week (UP Week) runs November 9-15.

“Raise UP” is a particularly apt theme in a time when information moves at faster speeds than ever before across a multiplicity of platforms and access points. It is critical that scholarship about wide-ranging perspectives on important concepts and sociopolitical challenges is nurtured, championed, and made widely available to inform public debate and understanding. 

To that end, here is a list of Canadian books for any reader who wants to learn more.

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Otter’s Journey through Indigenous Language and Law, by Lindsay Keegitah Borrows

About the book: Storytelling has the capacity to address feelings and demonstrate themes—to illuminate beyond argument and theoretical exposition. In Otter …

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Shelf Talkers: Indie Booksellers Get Us Through the End of the Year

tagged : Shelf Talkers

Oh, 2020.

It seems somehow strange to think that we can resent an entire year. However, 2020 has been a year like no other, and I suspect most of us are going to be giving a cheer when it's behind us.

But let’s not throw out the good with the bad, shall we? There have been bright spots, among which is a surplus of amazing books. A plethora, in fact.

To mark the passing of the year, we’ve gathered the independent booksellers of the Shelf Talkers fellowship – the strong! The proud! The bookish! – to tell us about some of their favourite reads. And hey—click on their links to order right from them!

Finally, a toast for the passing of the year: to books, and to finding light in the darkness.

See you next year.

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The Bookseller: Mitzi M. Stone, Mulberry Bush Book Store (Parksville, BC)

The Pick: Crow, by Amy Spurway

Set in Cape Breton and filled with characters who charm and dismay you, this is a book that knocks you to the ground, then lifts you right back up again! You’ll laugh, you’ll cry. Humour, dysfunctional families, and brain tumours, this book has it all! All I can say is: read it!

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Launchpad: FOUR UMBRELLAS, by June Hutton and Tony Wanless

Book Cover Launchpad Logo

Last spring—as launches, festivals and other events were cancelled across the country—49th Shelf helped Canadian authors launch more than 50 new books with LAUNCHPAD. And now we're back this fall, but with a twist.

LAUNCHPAD 2.0 features new releases selected by great Canadian writers who've chosen books that absolutely deserve to find their way into the hands of readers.

Today Janie Chang is recommending the new memoir from Jane Hutton and Tony Wanless, Four Umbrellas: A Couple's Journey Into Young-Onset Alzheimer's. Chang writes, "June Hutton and her husband Tony Wanless have written Four Umbrellas which is about their experience with Tony’s early-onset Alzheimer's. It’s unusual in that generally such memoirs are by the caregiver. In this case, because Tony is a journalist, they made the decision to document their journey together, so you also get first-person accounts from Tony about how it feels, what it’s like, as well as the challenges of working with a healthcare system that doesn’t assume Alzheimer's for younger patients. I feel this is a valuable memoir because the demographics of our aging population will make this a familiar story to many."

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Stories that Excavate the Underworld

Some books reveal layers. Dizzying layers about characters, and why they are reckless, why they fall in love, why they wear basketball shorts in the rain, or lay down in the pond with the koi fish. There is a layer of topsoil over a layer of subsoil, over sand, silt and clay all with its own colour and texture. I have an insatiable desire to know about who and why. In my book, The Crooked Thing, I keep going down to the underworld, excavating, trying to scoop up the dark into the light. For my list I have chosen writers and stories that build worlds that reveal character. Who they are and what they want.

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The Love of a Good Woman, by Alice Munro 

Nobody does it better to my mind than Alice Munro. She makes it look so easy. “The Love of a Good Woman,” would become the title story of her story collection that would go on to win the Giller Prize and National Book Critics Circle Prize. The story is one of Munro’s most famous works, one written about endlessly, because it is so masterful. With her literary lens focused on small towns and seemingly "or …

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Seeds of a Story: 2020 Canadian Children's Book Centre Awards

Last week, the winners of the 2020 Canadian Children's Book Centre Awards were announced. And now we're excited to share short pieces by finalist authors on the inspirations for their celebrated works and how they came to be born.

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Love From A to Z, by S.K. Ali

Nominated for the Amy Mathers Teen Book Award

Love from A to Z grew from many seeds—one of which was that I wasn’t seeing the kind of love story that was familiar to me and my family and friends. Muslim romantic storylines in popular culture tend to be focused on marriages arranged by parents (even if that’s not the romance in the story, the main character is often presented as grappling with the expectation of arranged marriages) and that wasn’t my experience, and isn’t an intrinsic part of Islam. Muslim cultures vary widely and so how relationships develop vary. I just wanted to tell a story familiar to me but that I wasn’t seeing on shelves: two Muslims meeting serendipitously and falling for each other.

The journey of two characters falling in love had to be dealt with justly (I felt) so I set out to tell two distinct stories. That meant mapping out two story-arcs, two character journeys, two worlds, and then I proceeded to envision these two tales as they would look fully realized, as tho …

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The Randomizer

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