Every second Friday afternoon of the month, the bookclub gathers in a member’s living room. We like a challenging read – stories of immigration, feminism, and moral dilemmas. We favour Canadian writers and try to choose titles available from our public libraries. Readers looking for an on-going discussion group and those who are attracted to a specific book but cannot commit to the ten book challenge are welcome.

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Our Current Lineup

December: The Testaments by Margaret Atwood

Date: December 13 at 1:30
Venue: South Surrey
Discussion Leader: TBD

“The story of Offred is fiction, but it’s fiction patched together out of real crimes against humanity—a bravura act of creative scrapbooking by a writer researching and repurposing atrocities as she figured out how to harness the literature of witness for herself … The witnesses she portrays in her fiction aren’t saviors; they are (or hope to be) survivors, people constrained and compromised by circumstances, and especially worth listening to for that very reason. The Testaments highlights this fact by making a more loaded demand than its predecessor did—that readers place themselves in the seat of an oppressor, not one of the subjugated … In Aunt Lydia—whose dry humor, ironic grandiosity, and contrarian instincts, not to mention her fame, call to mind Atwood’s own—Atwood continues to blur stark villain-victim distinctions. She gives readers a witness who has claimed not just agency for herself, but an agenda … Bearing witness, her work has implied all along and now makes explicit, is a crucial step toward liberation in times of crisis, but witness-bearers shouldn’t mistake themselves for heroes—or hope to be heralded as heroes by others.”

Adapted from Sophie Gilbert, The Atlantic

January: Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes

Date: January 10, 2020
Venue: Tsawwassen
Discussion Leader: Sandy Chism

The instant New York Times bestseller from the creator of Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal.This poignant, intimate, and hilarious memoir explores Shonda’s life before her Year of Yes—from her nerdy, book-loving childhood to her devotion to creating television characters who reflected the world she saw around her. The book chronicles her life after her Year of Yes had begun—when Shonda forced herself out of the house and onto the stage; when she learned to explore, empower, applaud, and love her truest self. Best of all, she “can help motivate even the most determined homebody to get out and try something new.”

(Chicago Tribune)

February: A Woman of No Importance – The Untold Story of the American Spy Who Helped Win World War II by Sonia Purnell

Venue: White Rock
Date: February 14, 2020
Discussion Leader: Mitzu Oishi

Based on new and extensive research, Sonia Purnell has for the first time uncovered the full secret life of Virginia Hall–an astounding and inspiring story of heroism, spycraft, resistance, and personal triumph over shocking adversity. A Woman of No Importance is the breathtaking story of how one woman’s fierce persistence helped win the war.

Virginia established vast spy networks throughout France, called weapons and explosives down from the skies, and became a linchpin for the Resistance. Even as her face covered wanted posters and a bounty was placed on her head, Virginia refused order after order to evacuate. She finally escaped through a death-defying hike over the Pyrenees into Spain, her cover blown. But she plunged back in, adamant that she had more lives to save, and led a victorious guerilla campaign, liberating swathes of France from the Nazis after D-Day.

Google Books

March: Dual Citizens by Alix Ohlin (Shortlisted, 2019 Scotiabank Giller Prize)

Date: March 13, 2020
Venue: Ocean Park
Discussion Leader: Joan Wilson Jones

Lark and Robin are half-sisters whose similarities end at being named for birds. While Lark is shy and studious, Robin is wild and artistic. Raised in Montreal by their disinterested single mother, they form a fierce team in childhood regardless of their differences. As they grow up, Lark excels at school and Robin becomes an extraordinary pianist. At seventeen, Lark flees to America to attend college, where she finds her calling in documentary films, and her sister soon joins her. As Lark tries to take charge of her destiny, she discovers that despite the difficulties of their relationship, there is only one person she can truly rely on: her sister.

CBC Sunday Edition

April: We Are the Weather: Saving the Planet Begins at Breakfast by Jonathan Safran Foer

Date: April 17, 2020
Venue: TBD
Discussion Leader: TBD

In We Are the Weather, Jonathan Safran Foer explores the central global dilemma of our time in a surprising, deeply personal, and urgent new way. The task of saving the planet will involve a great reckoning with ourselves—with our all-too-human reluctance to sacrifice immediate comfort for the sake of the future. We have, he reveals, turned our planet into a farm for growing animal products, and the consequences are catastrophic. Only collective action will save our home and way of life. And it all starts with what we eat—and don’t eat—for breakfast.

Good Reads

May: Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Date: May 8, 2020
Venue: South Surrey
Discussion Leader: TBD

For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life–until the unthinkable happens.

Perfect for fans of Barbara Kingsolver and Karen Russell, Where the Crawdads Sing is at once an exquisite ode to the natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising tale of possible murder. Owens reminds us that we are forever shaped by the children we once were, and that we are all subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps.

Adapted from Good Reads.

June: Seven Fallen Feathers – Racism, Death, and Hard Truths in a Northern City by Tanya Talaga

Date: June 12, 2020
Venue: Crescent Beach
Discussion Leader: TBD

Seven Fallen Feathers is not about blame; it is about responsibility. We all have a responsibility towards children. The government has a responsibility towards Indigenous peoples, even if it doesn’t always act on it. Settlers have a responsibility to understand how the actions of our ancestors have resulted in a broken and hostile system of multiple genocides. Talaga pulls no punches in these respects; she has a quotation about cultural genocide right up front from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s final report.

This is a story of seven deaths in Thunder Bay and the complacency of an entire country, of a whole population, to the plight of Indigenous peoples caused and continued by a settler government that doesn’t care. Seven students attending Dennis Franklin Cromarty High School died between 2000 and 2011, and the police and city did the utter minimum that they could do to investigate or prevent further tragedies. The inquest recommendations point to a deadly spectrum from apathy to outright racism within our judicial and political system.

Adapted from Good Reads.