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Great Families in CanLit

Don't you love escaping into a book where brothers, sisters, moms, and dads—not to mention freaky aunties and uncs—are crazier than yours? Where they fight more, philander more, commit more crimes, get sadder, and have their hearts broken even more than than you do? The best families in literature are wonderful because they are somehow utterly familiar—but strange enough—and thus cathartic. Here are a few greats. Of course there are many more (Larry's Party anyone? Fall on Your Knees?) so we want to hear suggestions from you. Tweet us @49thShelf with the hashtag #CanLitFamilies.

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The Flying Troutmans, by Miriam Toews

“Toews’s writing is a unique collision of sadness and humour. . . . The Flying Troutmans is a dark story but it is also a never-ending series of hilarious adventures.”—Ottawa Citizen

Days after being dumped by her boyfriend Marc in Paris—"he was heading off to an ashram and said we could communicate telepathically" —Hattie hears her sister Min has been checked into a psychiatric hospital, and finds herself flying back to Winnipeg to take care of Thebes and Logan, her niece and nephew. Not knowing what else to do, she loads the kids, a cooler, and a pile of CDs into their van and they set out on a road trip in search of the childre …

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The Recommend: July 2015

Most of the books we read are the result of one thing: someone we know, trust, and/or admire tells us it's great. That's why we run this series, The Recommend, where readers, writers, reviewers, bloggers, and others tell us about a book they'd recommend to a good friend ... and why.

This week we're pleased to present the picks of Chelsea Rooney, author of the acclaimed first novel Pedal; Daniel Allen Cox, author of two Lambda Award-nominated novels and the new book Mouthquake; Kevin Hardcastle, much-published short story writer and author of the upcoming collection Debris; Chadwick Ginther, creator of the award-winning Thunder Road trilogy; and Teri Vlassopoulos, whose short story debut, Bats and Swallows, was a Danuta Gleed finalist and whose forthcoming novel is Escape Plans.

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Chelsea Rooney picks Nancy Lee’s The Age

In the 1980s myriad panics—both real and imagined—swept across North America. An untameable disease killed people by the tens of thousands. Crack cocaine flooded and ravaged the cities’ most embattled poor. Primetime television reported breathlessly on rumoured Satanic cults. And the threat of nuclear war reached its fever pitch, with WWIII imminent.

Nancy Lee’s The Age tells one story from this generation’s most vulnerable: its youth. …

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Authors for Indies: It's This Saturday!

Authors for Indies is an upcoming event where Canadian writers go into our country's indie bookstores on May 2 to handsell books to customers. Not just May 2—MAY 2 THIS SATURDAY! Find out where the nearest Author for Indies bookstore is for you right here.

The Avid Reader bookstore in Cobourg, Ontario, is lucky to have authors Wayne Johnston, Allison Baggio, Sarah Henstra, and Plum Johnson as volunteers on Saturday—and we're lucky to have a sneak peek at what they'll be recommending. This, right here, could fuel a brilliant reading year for just about anyone.

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fifthbusiness

lostsaltgiftofbood

Wayne Johnston, author of The Colony of Unrequited Dreams and more, will be recommending Alistair MacLeod's The Lost Salt Gift of Blood and Robertson Davies' Fifth Business.

The Lost Salt Gift of Blood, one of Canada's most enduring classics, was last recommended on 49th Shelf by Michael Petrou, who wrote that it is in this book that MacLeod's writing is at its "most evocative, limpid, and heart-wrenching."

And you can see just a fraction of the ways Fifth Business has made its mark by scr …

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Top Shelf Ep. 1: Canadian Books You Need to Read

One of the most rewarding things we do at 49th Shelf is make themed lists—as well as commission them from authors and highlight the best of those compiled by members.

Too often, though, we find that incredible lists—and blog posts—get buried in the web’s relentless tendency to favour the new over the old. So starting today, we are launching a new bimonthly series (erm, that’s twice a month in this case) called Top Shelf that will shine a spotlight on great 49th Shelf lists and posts … newer and older. Each Top Shelf post will include three to five awesome lists and/or blog posts.

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Backlist, Baby: This is the perfect pick to roll out Top Shelf because it immediately reveals the danger of getting fixated on new releases. It’s a list of Canadian books published prior to 2013 that the 49th Shelf community created, and it includes such stunners as Bronwen Wallace’s People You’d Trust Your Life To, Isabel Huggan’s Belonging, and Alistair MacLeod’s The Lost Salt Gift of Blood (which to our recollection, has never once been left off a serious “best of” list).

 

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