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Top Shelf Ep 5: Peeking Into Authors' Bookshelves

For those of you who have not yet had the pleasure of watching Julie Wilson's Shelf Exposure series on 49th Shelf, and for those of you who might well want to watch an episode again.


Julie Wilson's Shelf Exposure series is something special in Canadian book coverage, joining readers and authors in book love in a unique way.

In Shelf Exposure, Julie invites writers to take a closer look at their bookshelves and to present viewers with a short list of titles based on a theme of their choosing. Then they enter the lightning round, where Julie puts them on the spot with a list of random requests.

The result is an almost tangible book experience—rare in the online space. Perhaps because they're talking about other people's writing, not their own, authors seem entirely themselves. The depth of their attachment to their books is incredible to watch.

Every episode of Shelf Exposure—which is founded on a Skype discussion which Julie edits and formats into an audio-visual crackle of fun—produces a book the viewer never knew of or thought of getting. Every episode is a celebration of books, bookshelves, backlist, eclectic tastes, and the joy and brilliance of nerd-dom.

When I asked Julie about what she likes about Shelf Exposure, this is what she said:

"I genuinely love firing up my computer to find an author sitting in their home with a stack of books, ready to report on their findings. And the Lightning Round, in which writers are asked to simply find a book that satisfies my list of random requests—Show us a book with food in it that isn't a cookbook. Show us a book that made you angry. Show us a book that took you years to read—is a purely selfish pleasure. I'm curious by nature and the whole process feels kidlike, as if I'm the grown up trying to make a child giggle with pride. There's yet to be an episode after which the writer doesn't exclaim that they came into the recording feeling nervous, yet left knowing they'd had a lot of fun. Me, too."

Today I'll highlight three episodes of Shelf Exposure, along with some notes on what you might really like about them.


Shelf Exposure Ep. 4: Donna Morrissey, author (most recently) of The Deception of Livvy Higgs.

Theme: Books read more than once.

Best part: Donna's total gusto. I want every single book she loves. She is the best fan a book ever had.



Shelf Exposure Ep. 5: Jane Silcott, author (most recently) of Everything Rustles.

Theme: Well-behaved women.

Best part: Jane's wonderfully wry and wicked laugh, her obvious love of mischief, her intelligence. And can she flap a book!



Shelf Exposure Ep. 2: Kathleen Winter, author (most recently) of Annabel.

Theme: Late-bloomers (authors who came to writing later in life).

Best part: How Kathleen searches for the perfect word, how she goes back into the book as she describes it, how much she knows her bookshelf.




Julie Wilson is The Book Madam, a self-professed “professional publishing fan” living in Toronto and working in media and publishing. She’s the past online marketing manager for House of Anansi Press, past host of the CBC Book Club, and present host of Her writing has appeared in or at The National Post, The Globe and Mail,, Taddle Creek, Maisonneuve. The online component of Seen Reading as been featured on or at CBC (“Here and Now,” “Q”), The National Post, The Globe and Mail, Quill & Quire, The Galley Cat, and more.

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