Lighten Up!

Book clubs are a nice way to enjoy books, friends, and discussions. So why is it that almost every book club I hear about only reads depressing books? I feel like every time I ask someone what their book club is reading, they describe a novel that involves a family member slowly dying, a memoir of someone who lived in a concentration camp, and so on and so forth. I know it is human nature to focus more on negatives than positives, but I think we can successfully turn this trend around.

Why can’t we talk about happy books? There are still things to discuss, even if a book doesn’t have you in tears the whole time. There are even books that have a little bit of both for some more emotionally balanced reading. When I read an exciting book that has made me laugh, I love talking about it. Especially with other people who have read it as well. Imagine: a room full of people happily talking about funny or uplifting things!

The world has enough sad things in it that I think it is okay to read something happier for a change. Jenny Lawson’s books are hilarious with moments of poignancy, and are really fun reads. They would give a book club plenty to talk about! Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next series are books that are full of literary references, humour, and intelligence – another great addition to your book club list.

I’m not saying you should never read or discuss books that evoke difficult emotions, but I do believe we should mix it up a bit. There are so many types of books to read and enjoy exciting debates about, so why not widen the scope of your book club roster? It’s important to remember to keep laughter and light in our lives, and what better way to add to your life than with a book? Here’s to happy discussions!

— Ashley T.

Book Clubs @ WPL

I recently had the chance to facilitate one of the WPL Book Clubs as the staff person who usually fills that role was ill.  It was an absolute pleasure.  I came away from the hour that I spent with that group of WPL readers feeling more enthusiastic about books than I have in a long time.  And it’s not like I don’t have experience with book clubs. I participate in more than one in my personal life and I passionately follow book discussions online using Goodreads.  I just love book chat.

I think that the difference with this group of people is that they all come to the WPL Book Club with such different perspectives.  Usually book clubs are made up of friends – I was invited to both of my book clubs by someone who knows me well – and you tend to have similar life experiences so your discussions can be pleasant and chatty but very much same old, same old.  In the WPL Book Club the participants are all attending because of the convenience of the location and not because they know each other in their personal lives, so the conversation was much more diverse and stimulating.

Each discussion question we covered brought multiple perspectives and it was invigorating.  We were discussing Ami McKay’s book The Witches of New York so there was ample opportunity to discuss spiritualism, midwifery, medicine, the depth of the research that the author had done into the time period, the role of the independent women at the centre of the story and witchcraft, of course.  What a great book!  We ended up discussing the role of women in the workplace in the last half century, touching on the Waterloo area in particular. We found our way to speaking about nursing and midwifery and even chatted about experiences with the spirit world.  The hour went by so quickly I was surprised when it was time for us to close up our books.

Some participants have been coming to the WPL Book Club for years, a few for decades, and others were new arrivals to the group but everyone had a chance to share their thoughts about The Witches of New York.  It was very welcoming.  And while not every reader would say that it was their favourite among the author’s books – many preferred The Birth House, her 2006 novel – it did provide so much for us to discuss and a chance for us to talk about novels to read next like Diane Setterfield’s Once Upon a River (because of the nurse character, Rita Sunday) or The Witch of Blackbird Pond which was a Newbery Medal winner in 1959.  It was the best kind of book talk, really, because we came away with other ideas of what we might read next.  I think a few members wrote down some movie titles as well. It was a jam-packed hour.

If it sounds like a wonderful time, it was!  And, WPL’s Book Clubs are open to everyone, even if you haven’t been able to attend a session this year, you can jump right in.  They run on Monday evenings and Thursday afternoons at the Main Library and I can tell you from first-hand experience that you will have the best time.  I had so much fun that I almost forgot that I was at work.  Hope to see you here in the library soon!

— Penny M.

Join us at a book club discussion

It is a new year and a wonderful new selection of book club titles awaits. Please feel free to join us for a discussion of the book. No registration required and everyone is welcome.

Date: Monday, January 8th at 7 p.m.

Location: Auditorium, Main Library, 35 Albert Street. Waterloo

Ysabel by Guy Gavriel Kay

Ned Marriner, fifteen years old, has accompanied his photographer father to Provence for a six-week “shoot” of images for a glossy coffee-table book. Gradually, Ned discovers a very old story playing itself out in this modern world of iPods, cellphones, and seven-seater vans whipping along roads walked by Celtic tribes and the Roman Legions.On one holy, haunted night of the ancient year, when the borders between the living and the dead are down and fires are lit upon the hills, Ned, his family, and his friends, are shockingly drawn into this tale, as dangerous, mythic figures from conflicts of long ago erupt into the present, claiming and changing lives.

Place a hold on a WPL copy of the book here.

Read a review of the book from Quill & Quire here.

Discover information about Aix-en-Provence from Wikipedia here.

 

Date: Thursday, January 18, 2018 @ 1:30 p.m.

Location: Boardroom, Main Library, 35 Albert Street. Waterloo

The Mountain Story by Lori Lansens

Five days. Four hikers. Three survivors. On his 18th birthday, Wolf Truly takes the tramway to the top of the mountain that looms over Palm Springs, intending to jump to his death. Instead he encounters strangers wandering in the mountain wilderness, three women who will change the course of his life. Through a series of missteps he and the women wind up stranded, in view of the city below, but without a way down. They endure five days in freezing temperatures without food or water or shelter, and somehow find the courage to carry on. Wolf, now a grown man, has never told his son, or anyone, what happened on the mountain during those five days, but he can’t put it off any longer. And in telling the story to his only child, Daniel, he at last explores the nature of the ties that bind and the sacrifices people will make for love. The mountain still has a hold on Wolf, composed of equal parts beauty and terror.

Place a hold on a WPL copy of the book here.

Read a review of the book from Globe and Mail here.

Discover how to survive in the wilderness here.

Please feel free to contact Christine Brown at cbrown@wpl.ca or 519-886-1310 ext. 146 with any questions.

Want to talk books?

Join us for book club conversation!

No need to sign up. The WPL Book Clubs have “open” membership, so you can drop in once in a while, or attend every month.

Date and Time: Monday, November 13 at 7 p.m.

Location: Auditorium, Main Library

Avenue of Mysteries by John Irving

avenueofmysteries

Summary: This is the story of Juan Diego Guerrero (né Rivera), who is either “a kid from Mexico or a grown-up from Iowa,” depending on his mood. As an adult, Juan Diego is a famous writer, a professor at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop no less, and an international literary sensation. Although he lives a somewhat glamorous life — first-class travel, occasional groupies — he is not entirely happy, owing to the trauma of his childhood. Not that he has disturbing recollections; on the contrary, and as counterintuitive as it seems, Juan Diego is bothered by the lack of them. He is under the influence of two prescription drugs: Viagra, with its obvious benefit, and Lopressor, a beta-­blocker that leaves him feeling “diminished.” Even worse, it robs him of his dreams, the only means by which he can access his memories.

 

Date and Time: Thursday, November 16 at 1:30 p.m.

Location: Board Room, Main Library

A Force for Good by Daniel Goleman

aforceforgood

With the help of his longtime friend Daniel Goleman, the New York Times bestselling author of Emotional Intelligence, details the science of compassion and how this singular guiding motivation has the power to :

* break such destructive social forces as corruption, collusion, and bias

* heal the planet by refocusing our concerns toward our impact on the systems that support all life

* reverse the tendency toward systemic inequity through transparency and accountability

* replace violence with dialogue

* counter us-and-them thinking by recognizing human oneness

* create new economic systems that work for everyone, not just the powerful and rich

* design schooling that teaches empathy, self-mastery, and ethics

Millions of people have turned to the Dalai Lama for his unparalleled insight into living happier, more purposeful lives. Now, when the world needs his guidance more than ever, he shows how every compassion-driven human act–no matter how small–is integral for a more peaceful, harmonious world, building a force for a better future.

For more information about WPL Bookd Clubs, contact Christine at cbrown@wpl.ca or 519-886-1310 ext. 146.