Seniors Book Club | May Selection

American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins

Print and eBook Options

This Library-led drop-in book club meets on the second Wednesday of the month at 2:00 PM via Zoom.

Book Club Kit copies are available for participants upon request from the Adult Information Desk (780-459-1682).

Register to drop-in and discuss this spell-binding novel and controversial publishing sensation.

Lydia Quixano Pérez lives in the Mexican city of Acapulco. She runs a bookstore. She has a son, Luca, the love of her life, and a wonderful husband who is a journalist. And while there are cracks beginning to show in Acapulco because of the drug cartels, her life is, by and large, fairly comfortable.

Even though she knows they’ll never sell, Lydia stocks some of her all-time favorite books in her store. And then one day a man enters the shop to browse and comes up to the register with a few books he would like to buy–two of them her favorites. Javier is erudite. He is charming. And, unbeknownst to Lydia, he is the jefe of the newest drug cartel that has gruesomely taken over the city. When Lydia’s husband’s tell-all profile of Javier is published, none of their lives will ever be the same.

Forced to flee, Lydia and eight-year-old Luca soon find themselves miles and worlds away from their comfortable middle-class existence. Instantly transformed into migrants, Lydia and Luca ride la bestia –trains that make their way north toward the United States, which is the only place Javier’s reach doesn’t extend. As they join the countless people trying to reach el norte , Lydia soon sees that everyone is running from something. But what exactly are they running to?

American Dirt will leave readers utterly changed. It is a literary achievement filled with poignancy, drama, and humanity on every page. It is one of the most important books for our times.

Already being hailed as “a Grapes of Wrath for our times” and “a new American classic,” Jeanine Cummins’s American Dirt is a rare exploration into the inner hearts of people willing to sacrifice everything for a glimmer of hope.

FURTHER READING

Jeanine Cummins biography

Wikipedia biography (including timeline of publishing controversy)

Author interview (BookBrowse)

An Irish Times article discussing the controversy with the author

The Atlantic article about the controversy

A New York Times book review

A critical review (slate.com)

Discussion Questions (Publisher’s Reading Guide)

The Death Train (La Bestia)

https://theconversation.com/migrants-at-us-mexico-border-must-get-past-cartels-before-their-long-journey-ends-129403

Mexican Migration in 2021

Jeanine Cummins is working with the International Rescue Committee to raise funds to help support severely under-resourced programs that offer protection and hope to the men, women, and children waiting in Mexico to get to the United States. She is matching donations up to $100,000 until the end of 2020. https://charity.gofundme.com/o/en/campaign/borderlands

WATCH & LISTEN

Youtube interviews with Jeanine Cummins

ARTE Reportage on La Bestia

An NPR Audio interview

A Bookreporter podcast

“Bookaccino Live” Book Group Event Discussing AMERICAN DIRT

Monday Evening Book Club | May Selection

Hamnet & Judith
by Maggie O’Farrell

Print | eBook

The Monday Evening Book Club meets on the second Monday of the month at 7:00 PM via Zoom.

Please register here to discuss Maggie O’Farrell’s novel Hamnet and Judith,

“Hamnet & Judith is a novel inspired by the son of a famous playwright. It is a story of the bond between twins, and of a marriage pushed to the brink by grief. It is also the story of a kestrel and its mistress; flea that boards a ship in Alexandria; and a glovemaker’s son who flouts convention in pursuit of the woman he loves. Above all, it is a tender and unforgettable reimagining of a boy whose life has been all but forgotten, but whose name was given to one of the most celebrated plays ever written” ~ Women’s Prize for Fiction Website

The Author

‘The Angel Who Saved My Daughter'(you Magazine)

The Novel’s Inspiration (The Guardian)

NPR Review

Women’s Prize for Fiction: Reading Guide

WATCH & LISTEN

Politics & Prose Interview

The Author on Life & Death Scenarios

Giving New Life to Shakespeare’s Son 

Hamnet with Maggie O’Farrell and Bernard Cornwell

10 Tenuous Quick Questions

Spring Meeting

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

Offbeat Book Club will discuss The Midnight Library on Thursday, May 27 at 7:00 PM via Zoom.

To find out how to register and more, email offbeat@sapl.ca

Further Reading

The Accidental Mental Health Guru

She’s So Full of Lit

WATCH & LISTEN

Ways to Change Your World

5 Books That Changed the Author’s Life

Author Stories Podcast: Matt Haig

Tuesday Afternoon Book Club | April Selection

My Brilliant Friend
by  Elena Ferrante

Print | eBook (Hoopla)

Additional book club kit copies are available at the Adult Information Desk.

This Library led book club meets on the third Tuesday of the month at 2:00 PM via Zoom.

Register to drop-in and discuss this modern masterpiece by one of Italy’s most acclaimed authors.

My Brilliant Friend is a rich, intense, and generous-hearted story about two friends, Elena and Lila. Ferrante’s inimitable style lends itself perfectly to a meticulous portrait of these two women that is also the story of a nation and a touching meditation on the nature of friendship.

The story begins in the 1950s, in a poor but vibrant neighborhood on the outskirts of Naples. Growing up on these tough streets the two girls learn to rely on each other ahead of anyone or anything else. As they grow, as their paths repeatedly diverge and converge, Elena and Lila remain best friends whose respective destinies are reflected and refracted in the other.

They are likewise the embodiments of a nation undergoing momentous change. Through the lives of these two women, Ferrante tells the story of a neighborhood, a city, and a country as it is transformed in ways that, in turn, also transform the relationship between her protagonists, the unforgettable Elena and Lila.

Ferrante is the author of three previous works of critically acclaimed fiction: The Days of Abandonment, Troubling Love, and The Lost Daughter. With this novel, the first in a trilogy, she proves herself to be one of Italy’s great storytellers.

She has given her readers a masterfully plotted page-turner, abundant and generous in its narrative details and characterizations, that is also a stylish work of literary fiction destined to delight her many fans and win new readers to her fiction.  (Source: Publisher)

Further Reading

About the author

Book Reviews

Discussion Questions

Watch & Listen

Seniors Book Club | April Selection

Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland
by Patrick Radden Keefe

“Book club only” print copies are available at the downtown location of the Library. To pick up a copy, visit the Information Desk on the 2nd floor.

Register to drop-in and discuss this acclaimed, award-winning book which expertly blends true crime and the history of the troubles in Northern Ireland.

The Seniors Book Club meets on the second Wednesday of the month at 2:00 PM via Zoom.

In December 1972, Jean McConville, a thirty-eight-year-old mother of ten, was dragged from her Belfast home by masked intruders, her children clinging to her legs. They never saw her again. Her abduction was one of the most notorious episodes of the vicious conflict known as The Troubles. Everyone in the neighborhood knew the I.R.A. was responsible. But in a climate of fear and paranoia, no one would speak of it. In 2003, five years after an accord brought an uneasy peace to Northern Ireland, a set of human bones was discovered on a beach. McConville’s children knew it was their mother when they were told a blue safety pin was attached to the dress–with so many kids, she had always kept it handy for diapers or ripped clothes.

Patrick Radden Keefe’s mesmerizing book on the bitter conflict in Northern Ireland and its aftermath uses the McConville case as a starting point for the tale of a society wracked by a violent guerrilla war, a war whose consequences have never been reckoned with. The brutal violence seared not only people like the McConville children, but also I.R.A. members embittered by a peace that fell far short of the goal of a united Ireland, and left them wondering whether the killings they committed were not justified acts of war, but simple murders.

Further reading

Review: How Conflicts End – And Who Can End Them | The Atlantic

Review: ‘Say Nothing’ — Part History, Part True Crime — Illuminates the Bitter Conflict in Northern Ireland | The New York Times

Review: ‘Say Nothing’ reexamines a mother’s murder in Northern Ireland’s most violent years | Los Angeles Times

Whatever You Say … Say Nothing: An Interview with Patrick Radden Keefe | Los Angeles Review of Books

‘My Only Real Loyalty is to the Truth’: An Interview with Patrick Radden Keefe | Hazlitt

The Troubles: Northern Ireland History | Britannica

Watch & Listen

Chicago Humanities Festival Interview

Wind of Change (podcast by author Patrick Radden Keefe)

Monday Evening Book Club | April Selection

Akin
by Emma Donoghue

Print | eBook

The Monday Evening Book Club meets on the second Monday of the month at 7:00 PM via Zoom.

Please register here to discuss Emma Donoghue’s novel Akin, a brilliant tale of love, loss and family.

A retired New York professor’s life is thrown into chaos when he takes his great-nephew to the French Riviera, in hopes of uncovering his own mother’s wartime secrets. Noah is only days away from his first trip back to Nice since he was a child when a social worker calls looking for a temporary home for Michael, his eleven-year-old great-nephew. Though he has never met the boy, he gets talked into taking him along to France. This odd couple, suffering from jet lag and culture shock, argue about everything from steak haché to screen time, and the trip is looking like a disaster. But as Michael’s ease with tech and sharp eye help Noah unearth troubling details about their family’s past, both of them come to grasp the risks that people in all eras have run for their loved ones, and find they are more akin than they knew. Written with all the tenderness and psychological intensity that made Room a huge bestseller, Akin is a funny, heart-wrenching tale of an old man and a boy who unpick their painful story and start to write a new one together. (Publisher)

Further Reading

About Emma Donoghue

About Akin (including a personal note by Emma Donoghue)

A Chatelaine interview

A Waterstones Blog interview

A Guardian book review

A Washington Post book review

An Irish Independent book review

An Irish Times book review

Discussion Questions

Historical background on Nice, France

Excelsior Hotel, Nice – historyWatch & LISTEN

About Odette Abadi (co-founder of the Marcel Network)

Washington Post article about the Marcel Network

 

WATCH & LISTEN

An Appel Salon (Toronto Public Library) video interview

A CBC Books video trailer

Interview by Shelagh Rogers on CBC’s The Next Chapter

Interview by Tom Power on CBC’s Q

 

 

Offbeat | February Meeting

How to Do Nothing:
Resisting the Attention Economy
by Jenny Odell

Print |eAudiobook (hoopla)

We’ll discuss this book and more on February, 25 at 7:00 pm via Zoom. To find out how to join email offbeat@sapl.ca

Further Reading

A vast confusion | Issues

Busy doing nothing | The Baffler

Author interview | The Reviter

Video

How to do nothing | XOXO Festival

Reclaiming our identity in the age of distraction | Interview

Tuesday Afternoon Book Club | March Selection

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine
by  Gail Honeyman

Print | eBook and eAudiobook 

This Library led book club meets on the third Tuesday of the month at 2:00 PM via Zoom.

Register to drop-in and discuss this hugely popular quirky novel by Scottish debut author Gail Honeyman.

No one’s ever told Eleanor that life should be better than fine.
Meet Eleanor Oliphant: She struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she’s thinking. Nothing is missing in her carefully timetabled life of avoiding social interactions, where weekends are punctuated by frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy.

But everything changes when Eleanor meets Raymond, the bumbling and deeply unhygienic IT guy from her office. When she and Raymond together save Sammy, an elderly gentleman who has fallen on the sidewalk, the three become the kinds of friends who rescue one another from the lives of isolation they have each been living. And it is Raymond’s big heart that will ultimately help Eleanor find the way to repair her own profoundly damaged one.

Soon to be a major motion picture produced by Reese Witherspoon, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine is the smart, warm, and uplifting story of an out-of-the-ordinary heroine whose deadpan weirdness and unconscious wit make for an irresistible journey as she realizes. . .
The only way to survive is to open your heart. (Source: Publisher)

Further Reading

About the author

Publisher’s Readers Guide (includes discussion questions)

Discussion questions & hosting tips (BookBub)

A Guardian interview

A Conversation with Gail Honeyman (Penguin Random House)

A Guardian book review

An Irish Times book review

An Independent article on loneliness in young people

A US News article on youth loneliness in the U.S.

Watch & Listen

Seniors Book Club | March Selection

Moon of the Crusted Snow
by  Waubgeshig Rice

Print | eBook and eAudiobook (Hoopla)

The Seniors Book Club meets on the second Wednesday of the month at 2:00 PM via Zoom.

Register to drop-in and discuss this slow-burning thriller and powerful story of survival.

We’ve been waiting for this story. It irresistibly turns our gaze toward something we already knew but couldn’t quite make ourselves see. The result is intense, thrilling, and vivid as the darkest dreams – much like the old Anishinaabeg stories told by the Elders. As one revelation follows another, we come face to face with mystery and responsibility of being human. ~Warren Carious, director, University of Manitoba Centre for Creative Writing and Oral Culture. 

Further Reading

About Waubgeshig Rice

Quebec couple flees to Indigenous community during the pandemic.

Toronto Star | At Home During COVID-19

Hamilton Review of Books Interview

CBC Books

Twitter

Watch & Listen

Monday Evening Book Club | March Selection

American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins

Print and eBook Options

This Library-led book club meets on the second Monday of the month at 7:00 PM via Zoom.

Register to drop-in and discuss this spell-binding novel and controversial publishing sensation.

Lydia Quixano Pérez lives in the Mexican city of Acapulco. She runs a bookstore. She has a son, Luca, the love of her life, and a wonderful husband who is a journalist. And while there are cracks beginning to show in Acapulco because of the drug cartels, her life is, by and large, fairly comfortable.

Even though she knows they’ll never sell, Lydia stocks some of her all-time favorite books in her store. And then one day a man enters the shop to browse and comes up to the register with a few books he would like to buy–two of them her favorites. Javier is erudite. He is charming. And, unbeknownst to Lydia, he is the jefe of the newest drug cartel that has gruesomely taken over the city. When Lydia’s husband’s tell-all profile of Javier is published, none of their lives will ever be the same.

Forced to flee, Lydia and eight-year-old Luca soon find themselves miles and worlds away from their comfortable middle-class existence. Instantly transformed into migrants, Lydia and Luca ride la bestia –trains that make their way north toward the United States, which is the only place Javier’s reach doesn’t extend. As they join the countless people trying to reach el norte , Lydia soon sees that everyone is running from something. But what exactly are they running to?

American Dirt will leave readers utterly changed. It is a literary achievement filled with poignancy, drama, and humanity on every page. It is one of the most important books for our times.

Already being hailed as “a Grapes of Wrath for our times” and “a new American classic,” Jeanine Cummins’s American Dirt is a rare exploration into the inner hearts of people willing to sacrifice everything for a glimmer of hope.

FURTHER READING

Jeanine Cummins biography

Wikipedia biography (including timeline of publishing controversy)

Author interview (BookBrowse)

An Irish Times article discussing the controversy with the author

The Atlantic article about the controversy

A New York Times book review

A critical review (slate.com)

Discussion Questions (Publisher’s Reading Guide)

The Death Train (La Bestia)

https://theconversation.com/migrants-at-us-mexico-border-must-get-past-cartels-before-their-long-journey-ends-129403

Mexican Migration in 2021

Jeanine Cummins is working with the International Rescue Committee to raise funds to help support severely under-resourced programs that offer protection and hope to the men, women, and children waiting in Mexico to get to the United States. She is matching donations up to $100,000 until the end of 2020. https://charity.gofundme.com/o/en/campaign/borderlands

WATCH & LISTEN

Youtube interviews with Jeanine Cummins

ARTE Reportage on La Bestia

An NPR Audio interview

A Bookreporter podcast

“Bookaccino Live” Book Group Event Discussing AMERICAN DIRT