WPL Book Clubs’ Picks for October

Join us for book club conversation at any meeting. No need to sign up. No need to clean your house. The WPL Book Clubs have “open” membership, so you can drop in once in a while, or come faithfully every month.

Monday, October 21 – Monday Evening Book Club
21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari
7:00pm – Main Library, Auditorium

21 Lessons For the 21st Century provides a kind of instruction manual for the present day to help readers find their way around the 21st century, to understand it, and to focus on the really important questions of life. Once again, Harari presents this in the distinctive, informal, and entertaining style that already characterized his previous books.

The topics Harari examines in 21 Lessons include major challenges such as international terrorism, fake news, and migration, as well as turning to more personal, individual concerns, such as our time for leisure or how much pressure and stress we can take.

21 Lessons for the 21st Century answers the overarching question: What is happening in the world today, what is the deeper meaning of these events, and how can we individually steer our way through them? The questions include what the rise of Trump signifies, whether or not God is back, and whether nationalism can help solve problems like global warming.

Few writers of non-fiction have captured the imagination of millions of people in quite the astonishing way Yuval Noah Harari has managed, and in such a short space of time. His unique ability to look at where we have come from and where we are going has gained him fans from every corner of the globe. There is an immediacy to this new book which makes it essential reading for anyone interested in the world today and how to navigate its turbulent waters.

Read a review of the book by Bill Gates (yes, that Bill Gates!)

Goodreads: 4.2* rating and reviews

Just want a summary of the book?  Find it here

Place a hold on a WPL copy of the book, the eBook or on the eAudiobook.

Thursday, October 17 – Thursday Afternoon Book Club
Transatlantic by Colum McCann
1:30 p.m. – Main Library, Boardroom

In 1845, Frederick Douglass, a black American slave, lands in Ireland to champion ideas of democracy and freedom, only to find a famine unfurling around him. In 1919, two brave young airmen emerge from the carnage of World War I to pilot the first transatlantic flight from St. John’s, Newfoundland, to the west of Ireland. In 1998 an American senator criss-crosses the ocean in search of a lasting peace in Ireland.

Taking these stories as his point of departure, Colum McCann weaves together the lives of Douglass, Alcock and Brown, and Senator George Mitchell in a tapestry that is both ambitious and unforgettable.

Goodreads: 3.8* rating and reviews

NY Times review of the book

Place a hold on a WPL copy of the book.

July Book Clubs

Join us for book club conversation at any meeting. No need to sign up. No need to clean your house. The WPL Book Clubs have “open” membership, so you can drop in once in a while, or come faithfully every month.

Monday, July 8, 2019 at 7:00pm
Main Library, 35 Albert Street
The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman

After four harrowing years on the Western Front, Tom Sherbourne returns to Australia and takes a job as the lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock, nearly half a day’s journey from the coast. To this isolated island, where the supply boat comes once a season, Tom brings a young, bold, and loving wife, Isabel. Years later, after two miscarriages and one stillbirth, the grieving Isabel hears a baby’s cries on the wind. A boat has washed up onshore carrying a dead man and a living baby. Tom, who keeps meticulous records and whose moral principles have withstood a horrific war, wants to report the man and infant immediately. But Isabel insists the baby is a “gift from God,” and against Tom’s judgment, they claim her as their own and name her Lucy. When she is two, Tom and Isabel return to the mainland and are reminded that there are other people in the world. Their choice has devastated one of them.

Contemplate these discussion questions provided courtesy of LitLovers

Read The New York Times review of “The Light Between Oceans”.

Check out (or place a hold on) a WPL copy of the book or the movie.

Thursday, July 18, 2019 at 1:30pm
Main Library, 35 Albert Street
A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving

“I am doomed to remember a boy with a wrecked voice–not because of his voice, or because he was the smallest person I ever knew, or even because he was the instrument of my mother’s death, but because he was the reason I believe in God; I am a Christian because of Owen Meany.” In the summer of 1953, two eleven-year-old boys–best friends–are playing in a Little League baseball game in Gravesend, New Hampshire. One of the boys hits a foul ball that kills the other boy’s mother. The boy who hits the ball doesn’t believe in accidents; Owen Meany believes he is God’s instrument. What happens to Owen, after that 1953 foul ball, is extraordinary and terrifying.

Contemplate these discussion questions provided courtesy of LitLovers here

Read the Kirkus review of “A Prayer for Owen Meany”.

Check out (or place a hold on) a WPL copy of the book.

For more information on WPL’s Book Clubs, contact Christine at cbrown@wpl.ca or 519-886-1310 ext. 146.

History’s People

I’ve always been interhstoryspeopleested in history although I am terrible for remembering dates and details. What I think I appreciate about history is the impact of people and events on situations.

Margaret MacMillan is a historian and professor of history at Oxford University.  In her book History’s People: Personalities and the PastMacMillan selects a number of figures from the past who stand out for her. The book is organized according to the attributes of those who have made and unmade our world looking specifically at qualities of leadership, hubris, persuasion, daring, curiosity and observation. MacMillan’s storytelling brings history to life and certainly helped me to realize the significance of the personalities of these historical figures and how, given another time or place or person, could have vastly impacted the world we live in today.  A few notable things I remember:

  • if Albert Einstein had not grasped the nature of the atom early in the 20th century could the Allies have developed the atomic bomb during WWII? CURIOSITY
  • if the Supreme Court decision on the 2000 vote count in Florida had gone differently George W. Bush would not have been president. As president, Al Gore would most certainly have resisted the temptation to invade Iraq. LEADERSHIP
  • Margaret Thatcher, Woodrow Wilson, Stalin and Hitler all had driving ambition and lived in times when changes were taking place that gave them opportunities. All four had a firm conviction that they were right in achieving the sort of society and world they wanted but were not prepared to compromise to achieve their ends. HUBRIS
  • William Lyon Mackenzie King exhibited a flair for conciliation and persuasion throughout the great depression and second world war to hold Canada together. PERSUASION

A thoroughly enjoyable and educational read!  I recommend it!

– Christine B.