parkdale united church

429 Parkdale Avenue, OTTAWA, Ontario K1Y 1H3

Book Club List of Books

These are the books we have read and discussed:

The Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell.  Uncovering the secrets of the world's happiest country. When the author moved to rural Denmark (her husband took a job with Lego)  she embarked on a mission to find out just what makes it such a happy place. Each month she tackled a different aspect of the culture to research. Seamlessly weaving interviews, research and personal experiences for a funny and insightful book, Russell shows how living Danishly can be possible for the rest of us. There are 12 copies at the library plus ebooks.    Marilyn

 

The Illegal by Lawrence Hill, which just won Canada Reads.  I just finished it and thoroughly enjoyed it – it moved right along and my attention never wandered-Mary.  And also Julianne wrote- I loved it. It’s a great read- though not as good as his The Book of Negroes.

 

Without Reservations: The Travels of an Independent Woman, by Alice Steinbach.  To travel alone to a foreign country is to undertake a journey of self discovery.  Alice Steinbach is a companion I would like to travel with. Her writing style offers just enough information to feel as though one is there with her. Alice's interests are not of the tourist type, but of those quiet, introspective spaces in which past lives were lived, whose long ago imprint remains tangible.

 

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, 2014

A blind girl flees Paris with her father in the face of the Nazis. A young Nazi-trained expert in the resistance's radio communication is stationed in St-Malo. Their paths converge as they both try to survive war’s devastation.      

 

Opening Heaven’s Doors: What the Dying May Be Trying to Tell Us About Where They’re Going by Patricia Pearson

“This rare, remarkable book brings journalistic rigour to an impossible question.” Tom Jokinen, Globe and Mail.       

 

The White Guard by Mikhail Bulgakov

The White Guard, Mikhail Bulgakov’s semi-autobiographical first novel...confronts the reader with the bewildering cruelty that ripped Russian life apart at the beginning of the last century, as well as the extraordinary ways in which [one family], the Turbins, preserved their humanity.” Yale Press.  

 

Motorcycles and Sweetgrass by Drew Haydon Taylor

“Otter Lake is a sleepy Anishnawbe community where little happens. Until the day a handsome stranger pulls up astride a 1953 Indian Chief motorcycle – and turns Otter Lake completely upside down.” Taylor’s website.       

Nocturne: On the Life and Death of my Brother

by Helen Humphreys

Canadian author Helen Humphreys’ memoir of her brother’s death from cancer is at times endearing, heartbreaking, and joyously funny.

The Russian Album by Michael Ignatieff.

Chronicles four generations of Ignatieffs in pre-revolutionary Russia. 2011 Governor General’s Award winner.

 

The Light between Oceans by M.L. Stedman. 2012.

A couple who are lighthouse keepers in Australia keep "a gift from God" with many repercussions. Extraordinary novel.

 

All That Matters by Wayson Choy. 2004.

Sequel to Jade Poppy. The story of the Chen family in Vancouver's Chinese Diaspora and winner of the Trillium Award.

 

Medicine Walk by Richard Wagamese. 2014.

Brilliant no- vel about a native family, the universal story of a father and son struggle, their goodness and redemption.

 

The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov. 1967.

The Devil visits the fervently atheistic Soviet Union. Considered one of the best novels of the 20th century.

 

God's Bits of Wood by Sembene Ousmane. 1960.

Senegalese author’s novel of a railway strike in Senegal in the 40's, examining colonialism's many faces.

 

They Left us Everything. 2014.

In the wake of slowly packing up the large family home after her mother dies, American author Plum Johnson gives us a touching family memoir, both heartfelt and humorous

 

Intolerable by Kamal Al Solaylee, 2012. Canadian.

Partly a memoir of 6 decades of his Arabic family caught up in the turmoil of Middle East politics, partly his escape from that world.

 

Last Train from Liguria by Irish writer Christine Dwyer Hickey. 2009.

A big, bold literary novel that ranges between 30's London, Irish Celtic Tiger Dublin and Mussolini's Italy.

Fugitive Pieces. 1996

An award-winning novel by Canadian poet Anne Michaels. It explores themes of trauma, loss, grief and memory. Also made into a feature film.

 

Three Day Road. 2006

Joseph Boyden's first novel. His latest is The Orenda. Two Cree men return to Northern Ontario following service in WWI.

 

The Hare with Amber Eyes: A Family's Century of Art and Loss

by British ceramicist, Edmund de Waal. 2010. A family memoir of a rich European family.

 

Death Comes to Pemberley

Inspired by a lifelong passion for Jane Austen, P. D. James masterfully re-creates the world of Pride and Prejudice, background for a brilliant crime story

 

Dear Life: Alice Munro's 15th and latest short story collection.

Among many other prizes, she won the Nobel Prize for Literature last year at the age of 82.

 

Canada

Pulitzer Prize winner Richard Ford's majestic novel chronicles the life of a young American boy who winds up in Windsor Ontario teaching American English literature.

 

The Purchase

Shot through with religion, Linda Spaulding's fascinating 18th century Virginia novel explores the consequences of an exiled Quaker's purchase of a slave.

 

Not in My Father’s Footsteps

Author Terrence Rundle West will lead our discussion of his compelling novel of the '30s stretching from hobo jungles of Canada to the Spanish Civil War.

 

Things Fall Apart

Chinua Achebe fused European literary and Nigerian oral tradition in this first novel, which became the most famous in English by an African writer. 1958.

And the Mountains Echoed

by Kahled Hos-seini Afghan author of The Kite Runner. A heartbreaking read. 2013.

 

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

by Mark Haddon Narrated by an English teen who describes himself as a "mathematician with some behavioural difficul-ties". A charming read. 2003.

 

The Inconvenient Indian

by Thomas King "Every Canadian should read (this) book. It's funny, readable and it makes you think"-Toronto Star. A timely read.   2013.

 

Speaking My Truth: Reflections on Reconciliation & Residential School

selected by Shelagh Rogers and others from the Aboriginal Healing Foundation’s Truth and Reconciliation Series.  2012.

 

Elegance of the Hedgehog. by French author Muriel Barbery

A novel of life in an upscale apartment building in Paris.  2006.

 A Fine Balance,    award winning novel by Rohinton Mistry

A saga of life in Mumbai from 1975 to 1984, during the turmoil of  The Emergency.  1995.

 Wolf Hall  by multi-award winner Hilary Mantel.  Fictionalized biography of Thomas Cromwell.  2009.

                                                

Tender At the Bone: Growing up at the Table

by Gourmet’s last editor, Ruth Reichl.

 A witty chronicle of her cooking life.  1999.


Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.

Jonathan Safran Foer’s 2005 novel.

 “A sad story (of 9/11) so well written it lightens the load.”. 

Kiss the Sunset Pig  ,    Laurie Gough 

A Canadian’s American Road Trip with Exotic Detours. Funny and poignant. 2006.

Half Blood Blues  ,    Esi Edugyan 

2011 Giller Prize-winning novel of music, race, and love in 1939 Berlin.

Gilead  ,    Marilynne Robinson 

A spiritual force very rare in contemporary fiction. 2004.

The Lotus Eaters  ,    Tatjani Soli 

A female photographer covering the war in Vietnam is the centre of this novel's gripping exploration of the complexities of war, violence, and foreignness.

Bel Canto  ,       Ann Patchett

The transcending effect of love and music is portrayed in this riveting novel based on an actual South American hostage-taking gone wrong.

The Book of Negroes,   Laurence Hill  

This prize-winning 2007 novel, astonishing in its scope, humanity and beauty, explores issues of slavery and race relations.

Requiem ,           Frances Itani

Elegaic but gritty, this beautifully written novel explores issues of the injustice imposed on Japanese Canadians in the Second World War.

The Bone People,   Keri Hulme

Booker prize winner, 1985, a dark but inspiring portrayal of post-colonial Maori life.

Wench,        Dolen Perkins-Valdez

The Ginger Tree , Oswald Wynd 1977

A fascinating account of early twentieth century China and Japan, dramatically portrayed through a Scottish immigrant woman's letters and diaries.

As Long as the Rivers Flow, James Bartleman

You can also hear James Bartleman’s talk at Parkdale - Canada's Invisible Generation of Native Children:

                           Click here to listen to James Bartleman's talk

The Globe and Mail reviewed this book on Feb 25, 2011. Check out the link below: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/arts/books/as-long-as-the-rivers-flow-by-james-bartleman/article1920516/

Suite Francaise, Irène Némirovsky

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society,

                        Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

I Shall Not Hate, A Gaza Doctor's Journey, Abuelaish, Izzeldin

Three Cups of Tea, Greg Mortenson

Cutting for Stone, Abraham Verghese