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Fiction We Can't Wait to Read This Fall

In which we give you a list of amazing fall fiction along with the REAL reasons we're looking forward to these books in order to demonstrate that human-generated lists beat algorithm-generated lists any and every day. And we also liberally employ the royal we....

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Book Cover The Lightning of Possible Storms

The Lightning of Possible Storms, by Jonathan Ball

About the book: Aleya's world starts to unravel after a café customer leaves behind a collection of short stories. Surprised and disturbed to discover that it has been dedicated to her, Aleya delves into the strange book...

A mad scientist seeks to steal his son's dreams. A struggling writer, skilled only at destruction, finds himself courted by Hollywood. A woman seeks to escape her body and live inside her dreams. Citizens panic when a new city block manifests out of nowhere. The personification of capitalism strives to impress his cutthroat boss.

The more Aleya reads, the deeper she sinks into the mysterious writer's work, and the less real the world around her seems. Soon, she's overwhelmed as a new, more terrifying existence takes hold.

Jonathan Ball's first collection of short fiction blends humour and horror, doom and daylight, offering myriad possible storms.

Why we're taking notice: Because CanLit legend Gary Barwin writes that Ball is "not only …

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Launchpad: The Kissing Fence, by B.A. Thomas-Peter

Launchpad Logo

This spring we've made it our mission (even more than usual) to celebrate new releases in the wake of cancelled launch parties, book festivals, and reading series. With 49th Shelf Launchpad, we're holding virtual launch parties here on our platform complete with witty banter, great insight, and short and snappy readings to give you a taste of the books on offer. You can request these books from your local library, get them as e-books or audio books, order them from your local indie bookseller if they're delivering, buy them direct from the publisher or from online retailers.

Today we're launching The Kissing Fence, by B.A. Thomas-Peter, which Genevieve Graham calls "A compelling story of faith and loyalty, abuse and adversity, and the hope for a better tomorrow."

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The Elevator Pitch. Tell us about your book in a sentence.

The Kissing Fence uses a fictional account of real events in BC, following the struggle of two generations of Doukhobors to explore what happens when culture, values, and identity are lost, and what causes someone to change course …

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Launchpad: Polar Vortex, by Shani Mootoo

Launchpad Logo

This spring we've made it our mission (even more than usual) to celebrate new releases in the wake of cancelled launch parties, book festivals, and reading series. With 49th Shelf Launchpad, we're holding virtual launch parties here on our platform complete with witty banter, great insight, and short and snappy readings to give you a taste of the books on offer. You can request these books from your local library, get them as e-books or audio books, order them from your local indie bookseller if they're delivering, buy them direct from the publisher or from online retailers.

Today we're featuring award-winning writer Shani Mootoo whose new release is Polar Vortex, an intense, propulsive read about a love triangle that turns out to be even more complicated than that, a novel that's gorgeously wrought and excruciatingly (in the best way!) unputdownable. 

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The Elevator Pitch. Tell us about your book in a sentence.

Priya has not come clean with her partner Alexandra about her old university friend Prakash, with whom she had a long push-and-pull relat …

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Launchpad: The Union of Smokers, by Paddy Scott

This spring we've made it our mission (even more than usual) to celebrate new releases in the wake of cancelled launch parties, book festivals, and reading series. With 49th Shelf Launchpad, we're holding virtual launch parties here on our platform complete with witty banter, great insight, and short and snappy readings to give you a taste of the books on offer. You can request these books from your local library, get them as e-books or audio books, order them from your local indie bookseller if they're delivering, buy them direct from the publisher or from online retailers.

Today we're featuring Paddy Scott, whose debut novel is The Union of Smokers, described as "an entirely new kind of story told by a gutter-mouthed, chain-smoking twelve year old, who announces in the opening paragraph that he’s going to die today."

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Book Cover The Union of Smokers

The Elevator Pitch. Tell us about your book in a sentence.

The Union of Smokers is a day in the life and a life in the final day of narrator Kaspar Pine, a young man who takes it upon himself to use his last hours on earth to educat …

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Launchpad: Junebat, by John Elizabeth Stintzi

Launchpad Logo

This spring we've made it our mission (even more than usual) to celebrate new releases in the wake of cancelled launch parties, book festivals, and reading series. With 49th Shelf Launchpad, we're holding virtual launch parties here on our platform complete with witty banter, great insight, and short and snappy readings to give you a taste of the books on offer. You can request these books from your local library, get them as e-books or audio books, order them from your local indie bookseller if they're delivering, buy them direct from the publisher or from online retailers.

First up is John Elizabeth Stintzi, whose poetry has been awarded the 2019 RBC Bronwen Wallace Award for Emerging Writers and the Long Poem Prize from the Malahat Review. Their debut poety collection is Junebat, of which Billy Ray Belcourt has written, "To the poetics of the queer everyday Stintzi adds their ‘Junebat,’ a multitudinous concept of such explanatory power I’m certain it’ll endure in the collective memory of Canadian writing."

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The Elevator Pitch. Tell us …

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On Our Radar

"On Our Radar" is a monthly 49th Shelf series featuring books with buzz worth sharing. We bring you links to features and reviews about great new books in a multitude of genres from all around the Internet and elsewhere. 

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Lands and Forests, by Andrew Forbes

Featured as part of Short Story Month at All Lit Up: 

I love what [the short story] is not. It’s not a novel. It’s not poetry. It’s something beautiful and defiantly self-contained and malleable. It requires attention and awareness, and it rewards with arresting insight. It’s an uncomfortably personal conversation with a stranger, made bearable and occasionally joyful by the awareness that when it’s over you’ll never speak to one another again. It’s an incredibly varied form, practiced by a cross-section of humanity, producing wildly divergent examples so unalike that they strain the margins and test the definition of “form,” but all such producers in agreement that to practice it is akin to pledging adherence to a secret sect.

Read the whole thing here. 

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Nitinikiau Innusi/ I Kee …

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Most Anticipated: Our 2018 Fall Fiction Preview

Summer's just heating up, but we're jumping ahead to the fall publishing season anyway. We can't help it: the books are so good! First up in our preview schedule is fiction.

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Howard Akler’s second novel is Splitsville (September), the story of a bookseller’s love affair set against the backdrop of Toronto’s Spadina Expressway protests of the 1970s. From Nick Bantock, the creator of the bestselling Griffin & Sabine series, comes Dubious Documents (September), a visual epistolary puzzle posed by a mysterious character named Magnus Berlin. Melissa Barbeau’s debut novel is The Luminous Sea (July), in which a team of researchers uncovers a strange creature in a Newfoundland outport, a kind of fish, both sentient and distinctly female. Linwood Barclay’s latest thriller is A Noise Downstairs (July)—and it involves a haunted typewriter.

Bestselling author and former Lieutenant Governor of Ontario James Bartleman has a new novel, A Matter of Conscience (May), which confronts the murder and disappearances of Indigenous women and the infamous Sixtie …

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Most Anticipated: Our 2018 Spring Poetry Preview

Our Spring Preview continues with poetry, exciting debuts, new books by award-winners, and books by your favourites. 

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David Alexander’s After the Hatching Oven (April) explores chickens: their evolution as a domesticated species; their place in history, pop culture and industrial agriculture; their exploitation and their liberation. Cameron Anstee’s Book of Annotations (April) deploys a number of minimalist strategies to question how small a poem can be made, and how can a small poem be made expansive. Joelle Barron’s debut is Ritual Lights (March), a meditation on trauma and identity, deeply vulnerable and reserved, funny and full of rage. Jonathan Bennett’s latest collection of poetry is Happinesswise (April), poems that interrogate what we tell ourselves about happiness, about its opposite, and about ourselves in the process. And False Spring (May), by Darren Bifford, is a collection of poems with great weight and energy, largely concerned with various forms of collapse and cultural disintegration.

E.D. Blodgett, two-time winner of the …

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Great Companions

If you're going to read one book this summer ... why not read two? 

As fascinating as books themselves are the connections between books, the curious ways in which books inform and echo each other, creating strange synergies completely outside of their authors' purview. In celebration of these connections, we've made great pairings of recent Canadian books of note—ideal literary companions. 

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Kickass Women

The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen, by Hope Nicholson, and Sputnik's Children, by Terri Favro

One book is an illustrated compendium of the amazing women who've been part of comics history for decades, and the other is a novel about a fictional comics creator/heroine. Both are galvanizing, rich stories of feminism and awesomeness. (Check out our Q&A with Hope Nicholson about her book.

About The Spectacular Sisterhood of SuperwomenA woman's place is saving the universe.

 
Think comic books can’t feature strong female protagonists? Think again! In The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen you’ll meet the most fascinating exemplars of the powerful, compelling, entertaining, and heroic female characters who’ve populated comic books from the very beginning. This spectacular sisterhood includes costumed crimebusters like Miss Fury, super-spies like Tiff …

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The One-of-a-Kind List

There are some writers who write books close to home, writers who celebrate the domestic, the ordinary, the way that a singular sliver of sunlight can shine off a china plate. The kind of authors who write about dust motes, you know? 

And then there are the authors on this list whose weird and wonderful books get at the more peculiar, singular elements of human experience. Truly these books and their characters are one-of-a-kinds. 

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No TV For Woodpeckers, by Gary Barwin

About the book: In the pages of Gary Barwin's latest collection of poetry, No TV for Woodpeckers, the lines between haunting and hilarious, wondrous and weird, beautiful and beastly, are blurred in the most satisfying ways. No stranger to poetic experimentation, Barwin employs a range of techniques from the lyrical to the conceptual in order to explore loss, mortality, family, the self and our relationship to the natural world.

Many of these poems reveal a submerged reality full of forgotten, unknown or invisible life forms that surround us—that are us. Within this reality, Barwin explores the connection between bodies, language, culture and the environment. He reveals how we construct both self and reality through these relationships and also considers the human in relation to the concepts of " …

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Most Anticipated: Our Fall 2016 Non-Fiction Preview

History, sports, memoir, cookbooks, history, global affairs, feminism, parenting, television, politics...and so much more. With the stellar non-fiction selections out this fall, Canadian writers are continuing to write the world. 

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Book Cover The Dad Dialogues

The rise of think-tanks in Canada and the role they occupy on the country’s political landscape are explored in Northern Lights (November), by Donald Abelson. Writers examine virginity as a cultural construct in Virgin Envy: The Cultural (In)Significance of the Hymen (October), edited Jonathan A. Allan, Cristina Santos, and Adriana Spahr. Andrew Baulcomb chronicles the recent goings-on of the music scene in Hamilton, ON, in Evenings and Weekends (September). Alyson Bobbitt and Sarah Bell share their most beloved pastry recipes in Bobbette and Belle: Recipes from the Celebrated Pastry Shop (October). And The Dad Dialogues (October), by George Bowering and Charles Demers, is an intergenerational look at fatherhood—and the universe!

A Disappearance in Damascus

Charles Bronfman shares his fascinating life story in Distilled: A Memoir of Family, Sea …

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Plant Some Seeds With These New Gardening Books

For most of us in Canada—West Coast aside, with its gorgeous early spring—the weather is still probably a little touch-and-go, and while the sprouts are growing hardily indoors, it's not quite time to transfer them yet to their outdoor beds. But it's going to happen any day now! And to further you along in your garden inspiration, we're happy to recommend a whole host of new books on the subject. 

See also Merilyn Simonds' list from a few years back, The Literary Garden. Because the connections between books and gardens are many. 

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For the New Homeowner

Your First Garden: A Landscape Primer for New Homeowners, by Judith Adam

About the book: In this book, accomplished garden writer Judith Adam targets new homeowners in sterile, still-to-be-landscaped suburbs. Creating an attractive setting for a brand-new house is a high priority and hard to resist, as all improvements will add to the property's dollar value as well as the enjoyment of the new home. 

With a light hand Adam outlines the basic steps toward transforming an empty yard into a welcoming, appealing space, beginning with identifying a personal garden style and assessing the pros and cons of a site, then choosing, planting and maintaining plants. 

Your First Garden is a primer on the basic elements of la …

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