January Book Club

by Deborah Rogers –

We are back for our sixth year of the Seaside Magazine book club! At our January meeting we didn’t discuss a specific book; instead we had a “book chat” introducing each other to the titles we’ve been enjoying since we last met. There were 22 of us at the meeting so we came away with a long list of books to add to our “to-read” piles.

What struck me was the variety: fiction and non-fiction and many genres represented. Only two of our readers had the same suggestion: (State of Terror by Hillary Rodham Clinton and Louise Penny). Some had listened to audiobooks, which sounds like an efficient way to read whilst doing something else with your hands! Many of the books had been borrowed from our local library, another reminder of how valuable it is to our community. (See the full list of our member’s recommendations below.)

For those who haven’t attended a meeting, or are considering joining our informal club, here is a little information about how it works. We meet 11 times a year (no meeting in December) and currently that meeting is held online using Zoom. Prior to the pandemic, our meetings took place in the Nell Horth room at the Sindey/North Saanich Library. Each month’s book for discussion is selected at the end of the previous month’s meeting. We try to keep the selections varied, with a mix of Canadian and non-Canadian authors and new and older books. As often as possible we chose a book that is available as a Book Club set from the library. This means a greater number of readers have the opportunity to borrow the book. Typically we will present two choices and the group votes on which one we will read.

At the meeting we will often split into a number of smaller groups to allow easy discussion, before coming together to share the thoughts of each group. It’s informal in the sense that no one is obliged to read/finish/share opinions; we welcome you to come regularly, or just when the book appeals. Last year we had three meetings where the author of the book was able to join us for questions – we’ll continue to look for these opportunities.

Our next meeting takes place on Tuesday, February 8 at 6:30 p.m. We’ll be discussing Piranesi by Susanne Clarke. Anyone can join the meeting, but you need to be registered to our email list in order to receive the Zoom invite. Sign up on our website: www.seasidemagazine.ca/book-club.


Seaside Magazine Book Club – Member Reading Suggestions

State of Terror by Hillary Rodham Clinton & Louise Penny – Very tense; need to take breaks. Up-to-date, recognizable characters. World politics. Highly recommended.

A Season in Hell by Robert R. Fowler – Non-fiction. Very interesting captivity story. Was longlisted for several big prizes.

What Strange Paradise by Omar al Akkad – Giller prize winner. About the refugee crisis. Incredible story, excellent imagery. Short, quick, good.

August into Winter by Guy Vanderhaeghe – Canadian prairie setting in the 1930s. Intertwined stories. Great adventure.

What Storm What Thunder by Myriam J. A. Chancy – Haiti setting. Earthquake. On CBC’s best books of 2021 list now. Really admired how well written the characters are.

Indians on Vacation by Thomas King and A Month of Sundays by Edward O. Phillips – Books that made me laugh out loud.

Four Umbrellas by June Hutton and Tony Wanless – set in Vancouver. About early onset Alzheimer’s disease.

Pandemic Spotlight by Ian Hanomansing – Donating proceeds to UBC. Spotlights all of the medical professionals who have been seeing us through the pandemic.

Hymns to the Silence by Itee Pootoogook – Cape Dorest art book. Description of how Inuit art has developed. Well written, beautiful pictures.

Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles – Set in 1950s U.S. Very amusing. If you enjoyed A Gentleman in Moscow you will enjoy this book too. Quite a thick book, slowly unfolds.

The Wish by Nicholas Sparks – Book to make you cry. Christmastime setting. Canadian Living Christmas reading recommendation. Themes of love, all different kinds. Heartwarming and heart wrenching. Great as an audiobook.

Bewilderment by Richard Power – Heard interview on CBC. Shortlisted for the Booker Prize. Smart, ambitious story. Father and son story. Themes of environmental activism. References Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes, another beloved short story. Great audiobook.

The Promise by Damon Galgut – Booker winner. South Africa setting. Story spans several decades. Four stages to story tied to four funerals. Biting satire. Difficult subject.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot – Henrietta Lacks’ cells are used for all kinds of medical research, cancer, fertility, etc. Book delves deeply into medical ethics. Lots of food for thought. Made into a movie starring Oprah Winfrey. Great book club book.

Beginners: The Joy and Transformative Power of Lifelong Learning by Tom Vanderbilt – Non fiction. New. Humorous. Enjoyable; not a difficult science read.

Humankind: A Hopeful History by Rutger Bregman – Humans evolved to be cooperative not competitive. Lighter read. Hopeful.

Fresh Water for Flowers by Valerie Perrin – Translated from French. Mystery. Beautifully written. Magical. Reminds of Helen Humphries. Suggested by mainland book club.

Fight or Submit: Standing Tall in Two Worlds by Ronald Derrickson – First Nations memoir. Truth and reconciliation pick.

The Light Years by Elizabeth Jane Howard – immersive writing, period setting. Hilary Mantel’s most-recommended author. Time to get whisked away to England.

Shadow Life by Hiromi Goto – Graphic Novel with a 76-year-old protagonist. When death comes for her she decides to fight back. Strange. Magical. Author lives on the Saanich Peninsula.


Author Recommendations

Anything by Louise Penny – introduced at Sechelt Festival very early in career. First one in line for her new books. Latest is The Madness of Crowds social media, pandemic themes.

Daniel Silva. Thrillers – secret agents – fast moving. You don’t have to read his books in order.

Gervais Phinn little episodes. Amusing. Light reads.

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