This is the September selection for the non-fiction book club. Meetings will be at 2pm on Thursday’s, September 8th and 22nd. All are welcome to join us at Joan Higginson’s home, 86 Auburn St.
From Man Booker Prize and National Book Critics Circle Award finalist Hisham Matar, a memoir of his journey home to his native Libya in search of answers to his father’s disappearance. In 2012, after the overthrow of Qaddafi, the acclaimed novelist Hisham Matar journeys to his native Libya after an absence of thirty years.
When he was twelve, Matar and his family went into political exile. Eight years later Matar’s father, a former diplomat and military man turned brave political dissident, was kidnapped from the streets of Cairo by the Libyan government and is believed to have been held in the regime’s most notorious prison. Now, the prisons are empty and little hope remains that Jaballa Matar will be found alive. Yet, as the author writes, hope is “persistent and cunning.”
This book is a profoundly moving family memoir, a brilliant and affecting portrait of a country and a people on the cusp of immense change, and a disturbing and timeless depiction of the monstrous nature of absolute power.
The book Club will be meeting only once in June, on the 16th at the home of Brian Ling, 440 Carriage lane, at 2pm.
Nature was a form of religion for naturalist, essayist, and early environmentalist Henry David Thoreau (1817–62). In communing with the natural world, he wished to “live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and … learn what it had to teach.” Toward that end Thoreau built a cabin in the spring of 1845 on the shores of Walden Pond — on land owned by Ralph Waldo Emerson — outside Concord, Massachusetts. There he observed nature, farmed, built fences, surveyed, and wrote in his journal.
One product of his two-year sojourn was this book — a great classic of American letters. Interwoven with accounts of Thoreau’s daily life (he received visitors and almost daily walked into Concord) are mediations on human existence, society, government, and other topics, expressed with wisdom and beauty of style.
Walden offers abundant evidence of Thoreau’s ability to begin with observations on a mundane incident or the minutiae of nature and then develop these observations into profound ruminations on the most fundamental human concerns. Credited with influencing Tolstoy, Gandhi, and other thinkers, the volume remains a masterpiece of philosophical reflection.
A selection of the Common Core State Standards Initiative.
Our May book club meetings will be on May 12th and 26th, at the home of Gillian Trowbridge, 24 Cricket Place at 2pm
Not offering a self-help book, but instead mounting a scientific explanation of the limitations of the human imagination and how it steers us wrong in our search for happiness, Gilbert, a professor of psychology at Harvard, draws on psychology, cognitive neuroscience, philosophy and behavioral economics to argue that, just as we err in remembering the past, so we err in imagining the future. “Our desire to control is so powerful, and the feeling of being in control so rewarding, that people often act as though they can control the uncontrollable,” Gilbert writes, as he reveals how ill-equipped we are to properly preview the future, let alone control it. Unfortunately, he claims, neither personal experience nor cultural wisdom compensates for imagination’s shortcomings. In concluding chapters, he discusses the transmission of inaccurate beliefs from one person’s mind to another, providing salient examples of universal assumptions about human happiness such as the joys of money and of having children. He concludes with the provocative recommendation that, rather than imagination, we should rely on others as surrogates for our future experience. Gilbert’s playful tone and use of commonplace examples render a potentially academic topic accessible and educational, even if his approach is at times overly prescriptive.
The non-fiction book club will be meeting in April at the home of Isobel Knowles, 1690 Cherryhill Road, on the 14th and 28th at 2pm.
Our book at that time will be This Changes Everything by Naomi Klein.
“This is the new environmentalism . . . and it has a powerful proponent in Naomi Klein. . . . This Changes Everything makes a muscular case for global warming as the defining, cross-sectional issue of our era. . . . This Changes Everything is a work of startling force, exhaustive reporting, and telling anecdote. Klein’s look at climate-change deniers is particularly gutting; my heart sank as I read a representative of the conservative American Enterprise Institute tell victims of Hurricane Sandy, ‘We need to suck it up and be responsible for taking care of ourselves.’. . . . Klein’s great gifts have always been synthesizing huge amounts of information and drawing connections between seemingly disparate issues; on those points, This Changes Everything is no different.”
—Drew Nelles, The Globe and Mail
Everyone is invited to join us for this vital discussion, even if you have not read the book.
Our book this month is The Impossible Will Take a Little While by Paul Rogat Loeb.
What keeps us going when times get tough? How have the leaders and unsung heroes of world-changing political movements persevered in the face of cynicism, fear, and seemingly overwhelming odds? In The Impossible Will Take a Little While, they answer these questions in their own words, creating a conversation among some of the most visionary and eloquent voices of our times. Ten years after his original edition, Paul Rogat Loeb has comprehensively updated this classic work on what it’s like to go up against Goliath — whether South African apartheid, Mississippi segregation, Middle East dictatorships, or the corporations driving global climate change. Without sugarcoating the obstacles, these stories inspire the hope to keep moving forward.
Think of this book as a conversation among some of the most visionary and eloquent voices of our times–or any time: Contributors include Maya Angelou, Diane Ackerman, Marian Wright Edelman, Wael Ghonim, Václav Havel, Paul Hawken, Seamus Heaney, Jonathan Kozol, Tony Kushner, Audre Lorde, Nelson Mandela, Bill McKibben, Bill Moyers, Pablo Neruda, Mary Pipher, Arundhati Roy, Dan Savage, Desmond Tutu, Alice Walker, Cornel West, Terry Tempest Williams, and Howard Zinn.
Whether or not you have read the book you are invited to share in the discussion and conversation on this topical issue.
The book club this month will be meeting at the home of Gord Drew, 408-1742 Ravenwood Drive, on Thursday Feb. 11 and 25 at 2pm.
When his father was given a diagnosis of terminal cancer, Winnipeg broadcaster and musician Wab Kinew decided to spend a year reconnecting with the accomplished but distant aboriginal man who’d raised him. The Reason You Walk spans the year 2012, chronicling painful moments in the past and celebrating renewed hopes and dreams for the future. As Kinew revisits his own childhood in Winnipeg and on a reserve in Northern Ontario, he learns more about his father’s traumatic childhood at residential school. An intriguing doubleness marks The Reason You Walk, a reference to an Anishinaabe ceremonial song.
Invoking hope, healing and forgiveness, The Reason You Walk is a poignant story of a towering but damaged father and his son as they embark on a journey to repair their family bond. By turns lighthearted and solemn, Kinew gives us an inspiring vision for family and cross-cultural reconciliation, and a wider conversation about the future of aboriginal peoples.