Join the Fairfield Community Book Club
Last Monday of every month
Meeting up via Zoom video conferencing. Free & easy to use with your home computer, laptop, iPad or smart phone.
Email event@fairfieldcommunity for the link to join.
Join our skilled volunteer facilitators as they guide participants to deepen their understanding of the issues each book presents.
What kind of books do we read?
- NEW for 2019-2020, as of July 29, 2019: Speaks—whether through fiction, science fiction or non-fiction—to a critical global issue that is affecting us now as Canadians. Provided the book meets this criterion, it may be by an author from any country.
- Contributes to (deepens and expands) our cultural understanding of this country: First Nations and Metis experiences, the diaspora from many countries, other immigrants and their descendants, other often-marginalized voices in our country
- Principally, though not solely, works of fiction written by a Canadian author
- Global issues
- Rooted in social history, preferentially, meaning works richly based on an author’s lived experience (e.g. works by First Nations or Metis authors vs. books about FN or Metis culture—also without intention to read only books that are by FN and/or Metis authors)
- Ability to access the book through multiple media (e.g., paper, eBook, audio book) and at various price points (e.g., library copies, used, paperback, hardcover)
Note: The criteria are as dynamic as our book club—and open for amendment. We encourage you to bring any books you believe are suitable!
Reading options before the event
To read the book before the meeting, there are different options available: borrow from the library or the FGCA or purchase. To reduce the impact on the environment, we prioritize books that are available at the library. You can also borrow the current and next month’s book from the community centre. After each meeting, Erin we will email the next month’s book selection and you will have the opportunity to reserve a copy of the book. You will have one week to read it before the next person on the waiting list picks it up.
Note we keep all book selections and you are welcome to borrow at anytime!
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org for information on joining the Community Book Club.
Upcoming Book Selections
October 2021 I Indians on Vacation by Thomas King
Meeting: October 25
Meet Bird and Mimi in this brilliant new novel from one of Canada’s foremost authors. Inspired by a handful of old postcards sent by Uncle Leroy nearly a hundred years earlier, Bird and Mimi attempt to trace Mimi’s long-lost uncle and the family medicine bundle he took with him to Europe.
By turns witty, sly and poignant, this is the unforgettable tale of one couple’s holiday trip to Europe, where their wanderings through its famous capitals reveal a complicated history, both personal and political.
November 2021 I Butter Honey Pig Bread by Francesca Ekwuyasi
Meeting: November 29
Spanning three continents, Butter Honey Pig Bread tells the interconnected stories of three Nigerian women: Kambirinachi and her twin daughters, Kehinde and Taiye. Kambirinachi believes that she is an Ogbanje, or an Abiku, a non-human spirit that plagues a family with misfortune by being born and then dying in childhood to cause a human mother misery. She has made the unnatural choice of staying alive to love her human family but lives in fear of the consequences of her decision.
Kambirinachi and her two daughters become estranged from one another because of a trauma that Kehinde experiences in childhood, which leads her to move away and cut off all contact. She ultimately finds her path as an artist and seeks to raise a family of her own, despite her fear that she won’t be a good mother. Meanwhile, Taiye is plagued by guilt for what her sister suffered and also runs away, attempting to fill the void of that lost relationship with casual flings with women. She eventually discovers a way out of her stifling loneliness through a passion for food and cooking.
But now, after more than a decade of living apart, Taiye and Kehinde have returned home to Lagos. It is here that the three women must face each other and address the wounds of the past if they are to reconcile and move forward.
For readers of African diasporic authors such as Teju Cole and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Butter Honey Pig Bread is a story of choices and their consequences, of motherhood, of the malleable line between the spirit and the mind, of finding new homes and mending old ones, of voracious appetites, of queer love, of friendship, faith, and above all, family.
December 2021 I How to Pronounce Knife by Souvankham Thammavongsa
Meeting: December 16 in-person at Fairfield Community Place from 6-9 pm
In the title story of Souvankham Thammavongsa’s debut collection, a young girl brings a book home from school and asks her father to help her pronounce a tricky word, a simple exchange with unforgettable consequences. Thammavongsa is a master at homing in on moments like this — moments of exposure, dislocation, and messy feeling that push us right up against the limits of language.
The stories that make up How to Pronounce Knife focus on characters struggling to find their bearings in unfamiliar territory, or shuttling between idioms, cultures, and values. A failed boxer discovers what it truly means to be a champion when he starts painting nails at his sister’s salon. A young woman tries to discern the invisible but immutable social hierarchies at a chicken processing plant. A mother coaches her daughter in the challenging art of worm harvesting.
In a taut, visceral prose style that establishes her as one of the most striking and assured voices of her generation, Thammavongsa interrogates what it means to make a living, to work, and to create meaning.
January 2022 I Five Little Indians by Michelle Good
Meeting: January 31
Winner of the 2018 HarperCollins/UBC Prize for Best New Fiction Michelle Good’s Five Little Indians, told from the alternating points of view of five former residential school students as they struggle to survive in 1960s Vancouver—one finding her way into the dangerous world of the American Indian movement; one finding unexpected strength in motherhood; and one unable to escape his demons – and the bonds of friendship that sustain them, inspired by the author’s experiences.
Previous Book Selections
September 2021 I We Two Alone by Jack Wang
Meeting: September 27
Set on five continents and spanning decades, We Two Alone traces the arc and evolution of the Chinese immigrant experience. A young laundry boy risks his life, pretending to be a girl to play organized hockey in Canada in the 1920s. A Canadian couple is caught in when Shanghai is succumbs to violence during the Second Sino-Japanese War. A family struggles to buy a home in South Africa in the early years of apartheid. An actor in New York struggles to keep his career alive while yearning to reconcile with his estranged wife.
From the vulnerable and disenfranchised to the educated and privileged, the characters in this extraordinary collection embody the diversity of the Chinese diaspora past and present. In these deeply affecting stories, Jack Wang subverts expectations as he captures the hope, pain, and sacrifices of the millions who journey into the unknown to create better lives, and explores the shifting boundaries of morality, the intimacies and failings of love, and the choices circumstances force us to make.
August 2021 I Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer
Meeting: August 29 from 12-2 pm, outdoors at Porter Park
A best-selling non-fiction book published in 2013 that is about botany as seen through Native American traditions and Western scientific traditions. Wrote Richard Powers, of “The Overstory” fame, “I give daily thanks to Robin Wall Kimmerer for being a font of endless knowledge, both mental and spiritual.” Elizabeth Gilbert wrote in her review: “a journey that is every bit as mythic as it is scientific, as sacred as it is historical, as clever as it is wise.”
July 2021 I FROM THE ASHES, My story of being Métis, Homeless and Finding My Way”, by Jesse Thristle
A memoir of hope and resilience by a high school dropout who is now a rising Indigenous scholar, this book was the Globe and Mail Book of the Year (and a finalist in CBC Canada Reads). A story of survival through sheer perseverance and education, it tells of parental abandonment, the foster system, care by grandparents, and life on the streets. It is a heart-wrenching exploration of prejudice and racism and, in the end, a tale of how love and support can help us find happiness despite the odds.
June 2021 I Chop Suey Nation, The Legion Café and Other Stories from Canada’s Chinese Restaurants by Ann Hui
In 2016, Globe and Mail reporter Ann Hui drove across Canada, from Victoria to Fogo Island, to write about small town Chinese restaurants and the families who run them. These restaurants are not disappearing. Newcomers are still arriving in Canada and still moving to small towns to open Chinese restaurants. Just about every town across the country has its own Chinese restaurant according to some estimates, more Chinese restaurants than all fast-food restaurants combined.
May 2021 I The Silence by Karen Lee White
Set partly in the Yukon, partly in Vancouver, and partly in the world of visions and dreams, Leah Redsky struggles to come to terms with her memories, her past trauma, and her developing identity as a leader and healer. Leah is a Salteaux/Salish woman living in Vancouver who struggles with identity and the difficult intercultural dynamics of having a non-Indigenous boyfriend and working for the government. Often conflicted, at odds with her past and current life, things unravel and she suffers a breakdown—the unexpected life twist that is the key to coming to terms with her past.
April 2021 I Little Fish by Casey Plett
“How do we think about our past?” asks Wendy in the opening scene of Little Fish. She is having drinks with a small group of close-knit Winnipeg transwomen, musing darkly on the way that they experience age differently than cis folks. This wonder at how to conceive of the past, time, or a life haunts this novel. The morning after that scene at the bar, Wendy wakes up to news of her grandmother’s death. When she heads to the funeral in a small Mennonite town north of the city, an acquaintance of her grandparents calls to give condolences and, without warning, suggests that Wendy’s grandfather might have also been trans. The subsequent weeks deal blow after blow. Through this all, Wendy seeks the possibility of some innate connection of care between transwomen — a care that transcends and transforms time, experience, and context. In a shitty, magical, and rapidly changing world, the novel suggests, maybe all we can rely on is each other, no matter how broken or distant. For those of us outside this experience, this book invites us to witness something important, complex, and tender.
A lyrical collection focusing on a specific street and on a particular tree growing there, Earle Street, by Governor General’s Award winner Arleen Paré, takes the concept of street and urban living, the houses on the street, the neighbours, the boulevard trees and wildlife, and the street’s history as a poetic focal point. The book is divided into four sections, each of which differently considers the poet’s home street – as a river, as an arboretum, as a window, and finally as a whole world – resulting in an extended meditation on place, community, and lesbian domesticity that is at once poetic and philosophical. “Start from the inside,” Paré writes, “as though organic, as though building from inside a seed.” Here is the macrocosm reflected, examined, and refracted through the microcosm of a single, quiet neighbourhood street.
February 2021 I Ragged Company by Richard Wagamese
Four chronically homeless people—Amelia One Sky, Timber, Double Dick and Digger—seek refuge in a warm movie theatre when a severe Arctic Front descends on the city. During what is supposed to be a one-time event, this temporary refuge transfixes them. They fall in love with this new world, and once the weather clears, continue their trips to the cinemas. On one of these outings they meet Granite, a jaded and lonely journalist who has turned his back on writing “the same story over and over again” in favour of the escapist qualities of film. An unlikely friendship is struck. Ragged Company is a journey into both the future and the past. Ojibway writer Richard Wagamese deeply explores the nature of the comforts these friends find in their ideas of “home,” as he reconnects them to their histories.
January 2021 I The Testament by Margaret Atwood
More than fifteen years after the events of The Handmaid’s Tale, the theocratic regime of the Republic of Gilead maintains its grip on power, but there are signs it is beginning to rot from within. At this crucial moment, the lives of three radically different women converge, with potentially explosive results. Two have grown up as part of the first generation to come of age in the new order. The testimonies of these two young women are joined by a third voice: a woman who wields power through the ruthless accumulation and deployment of secrets. As Atwood unfolds The Testaments, she opens up the innermost workings of Gilead as each woman is forced to come to terms with who she is, and how far she will go for what she believes.
2020 Book Selections
Girls Burn Brighter by Shobha Rao
A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki
The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming by David Wallace-Wells
Ellen in Pieces by Caroline Adderson
Black Writers Matter, an anthology of Canadian (black) writers, edited by Whitney French
Translated from the Gibberish by Anosh Irani
The Book of Negroes by Laurence Hill
How to be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
A Mind Spread on the Ground by Alicia Elliot
Noopiming, The Cure for White Ladies by Leanne Betasamosake Simpson
2019 Book Selections
This Accident of Being Lost by Leanne Betasamosake Simpson
All Things Consoled: A Daughter’s Memoir by Elizabeth Hay
The Measure of My Powers by Jackie Kai Ellis
A Place for Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza
Forgiveness: A Gift from My Grandparents by Mark Sakamoto
Homes: A Refugee Story by Abu Bakr Al Rabeeah
The Dark and Other Love Stories by Deborah Willis
Love From A to Z by SK Ali
Tomboy Survival Guide by Ivan Coyote
A Mariner’s Guide to Self Sabotage By Bill Gaston
Mamaskatch: A Cree Coming of Age By Darrel J. McLeod
2018 Book Selections
Next Year, For Sure by Zoey Leigh Peterson
Bad Endings: Stories by Carleigh Baker
Son of a Trickster by Eden Robinson
Brother by David Chairandy
Where I Live Now by Sharon Butala
The Girl Who was Saturday Night by Heather O’Neill
One Day We’ll All be Dead and None of this Will Matter by Scaachi Koul
Nostalgia by MG Vassanji
Seven Fallen Feathers: Racism, Death and Hard Truths in a Northern City by Tanya Talaga
Women Talking by Miriam Toews
A Hero’s Walk by Anita Rau Badami