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The Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, the debut novel by Eva Jurczyk, is up for giveaway right now

Don't miss your chance to win!

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For some writers, their first book is their best book, but for all writers, their first book offers a glimpse of the setting, subject matter, or style that will make their later works so beloved.

Everyone on this list of esteemed Canadian writers has well-loved popular works, but going back to their debuts will give you literary cred, allowing you to say that you knew all about them before they were big.

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Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl, by Mona Awad

Awad’s debut, set in the terrible suburb of my youth, is a novel in thirteen vignettes about a girl and her relationship with her body, about the way that women are looked at and the way they look at themselves. Awad is best known as the author of the delightful and unhinged Bunny—the New England-set campus horror novel—but there’s a tenderness in her debut that I’ve never been able to shake from my memory.

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The 49th Shelf Timeless Books Challenge

There is something refreshingly quiet about January in the book world, after the flurry of fall literary awards and a proliferation of year-end books lists. And sure, we're already looking ahead to an exciting books season—stay tuned for our Spring Preview coming soon—but in the meantime there a chance to take a breath. Our towers of new releases aren't quite toppling yet, and maybe here's that rare chance to reach back to celebrated titles of previous years and finally pick up that one  timeless book that's been on your to-be-read list for far too long now.

It's been a rough couple of years, and 2022 is all about taking it easy, so the challenge here is pretty low-stakes. Pick at least one book from this list of fiction that's dazzled us over the last few years, and read it. We hope you love it. And we hope this challenge starts off your literary year on a high note, inspiring you to seek out books from all kinds of places instead of just bestseller lists. We hope you dare to blaze your own literary trails.

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Undercard, by David Albertyn

"I wanted Undercard to have all the aspects of a great sports story, within the context of a great thriller."

About the book: Set over the course of twenty-four exhilarating hours, Undercard is the story of four childhood f …

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Summer Gone: Amazing Reads from Past Years

While looking ahead to summer is a delightful experience, there is something in the nature of summer itself that invites nostalgia, and not just for the season, but also for the books that help to make the season so memorable. And so before we start talking summer reads and 2019 new releases, we wanted to take a moment and recall the summer books that we've loved from years gone by, books that are definitely worth picking up if you haven't read them yet and which will always be good for a reread. 

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The Last Woman, by John Bemrose

About the book: In the heart of cottage country in Ontario, bordering on a native reservation, Ann and Richard are confronted with the abrupt reappearance after ten years of a local man, Billy. His presence once again in their lives brings back powerful memories and rekindles old conflicts, love, and a betrayal, as each of their past and present stories gradually unfolds during one 1980s summer.

Containing all of the elements for which The Island Walkers was celebrated, The Last Woman envelops us in Bemrose’s flawlessly crafted and complete world, where each character is unforgettably alive and real, and the land itself breathes its own story into our hearts.

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Happy Holiday Reading from 49th Shelf

Book christmas tree ornament

For Christmas, or any holiday, or even for no reason at all: books are my favourite presents to give or receive. This year, various people I love will be unwrapping books including Dear Evelyn, by Kathy Page, Machine Without Horses, by Helen Humphreys, Late Breaking, by KD Miller, The Saturday Night Ghost Club, by Craig Davidson, and Sweep, by Jonathan Auxier.

And while I look forward to receiving some new books as well, brand new books are not actually what I'm most looking forward to this holiday season. Because while new books under the tree are wonderful, my very favourite thing about this holiday—in the dead of winter when we do all we can to light up the darkness—is the time it allows us for such indulgences as re-reading, or even finally getting to that title that's been sitting on the shelf for years. To discover a book that maybe everybody isn't talking about right now, but that doesn't mean the book isn't excellent, or that it hasn't only been waiting for you until the moment was right. 

Yesterday the weather in Toronto was warm enough that I got to sit in a park while I had a free half hour, and finish reading Dora Dueck's 2012 short story collection What You Get at Home. Of course, the weather was not so warm that I didn't have to periodically warm …

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