Light up your week with another exciting activity on The Bright Spot: our online book club! You’ll get to share your love of reading, have some good chats, and meet some new people.

How do I join?

Sign up on this page of The Bright Spot. Once you RSVP, we’ll send a Zoom link to your e-mail. On Thursday, shortly before 1:00 pm, click on the link to connect to our virtual book club.

How will the book club be organized?

Each meeting will be moderated by Andrea Muller, supervisor and individual conditioning coach at the Markham YMCA. We’ve asked people to pick a variety of books for us to read together until mid-June (scroll down to see the reading schedule!). We’ll read a new book every week, then get together virtually to discuss the themes, your insights, and our impressions.

What can I expect in a typical book club meeting?

The individual who chose the book will bring three discussion questions to our meeting to get the ball rolling, and then our conversation will pick up from there.

What are some examples of discussion questions?

We’re going to be pretty open to whatever comes up in our discussion, but some of the questions we are thinking of using to get us started are:

  • What themes did you notice throughout the book?
  • How did the characters change throughout the story? How did your opinion of them change?
  • Which character did you relate to the most, and what was it about them that you connected with?
  • Did the book change your opinion or perspective about anything? Do you feel different now than you did before you read it?

Where can I get copies of the books we’re reading?

There are a few different ways you can get books for free online.

1. Log on to your local library’s website. If you do not have a library card, your library card is expired, or you lost your library card, your library website will have directions on how to get a new card.

2. Use the Toronto Public Library Instant Digital Card. This gives non-Toronto Public Library cardholders in Toronto free, temporary access to the TPL’s large collection of e-books and audiobooks using the code TPL2020. You need a Toronto cell phone (area codes 416, 647, or 437) that can receive text messages.

3. Subscribe to Scribd or Kobo audiobook, which both offer a free 30-day trial.

4. If you prefer audiobooks, Audible has a free 30-day trial as well.

Which books are we reading?

We’ve got our first four books selected, but we want to hear your suggestions, too. Head over to The Bright Spot and send us your ideas through the live chat.

In the meantime, here are the first four titles we’ll be digging into over the coming weeks.

May 21 meeting: All Things Consoled by Elizabeth Hay

Jean and Gordon Hay were a colourful, formidable pair. Jean, a late-blooming artist with a marvellous sense of humour, was exceptionally frugal; nothing went to waste, not even maggoty soup. Gordon was a proud and ambitious schoolteacher with a terrifying temper, a deep streak of melancholy, and a devotion to flowers, cars, words, and his wife. As they grow old, these once ferociously independent parents become increasingly dependent on Lizzie, the so-called difficult child. By looking after them, she hopes to prove that she can be a good daughter after all.

In this courageous memoir, Elizabeth Hay lays bare the exquisite agony of a family’s dynamics: entrenched favouritism, sibling rivalries, grievances that last for decades, genuine admiration, and enduring love. In the end, she reaches a more complete understanding of the most unforgettable characters she will ever know: her parents.

May 28 meeting: The Rooster Bar by John Grisham

Mark, Todd, and Zola came to law school to change the world — to make it a better place. But now, as third-year students, these close friends realize they have been duped. They all borrowed heavily to attend a third-tier, for-profit law school so mediocre that its graduates rarely pass the bar exam, let alone get good jobs. And when they learn that their school is one of a chain owned by a shady New York hedge-fund operator who also happens to own a bank specializing in student loans, the three know they have been caught up in The Great Law School Scam.

But maybe there’s a way out. Maybe there’s a way to escape their crushing debt, expose the bank and the scam, and make a few bucks in the process. To do so, they would first have to quit school. And leaving law school a few short months before graduation would be completely crazy, right? Well, yes and no…

Pull up a stool, grab a cold one, and get ready to spend some time at The Rooster Bar.

June 4 meeting: Need to Know by Karen Cleveland

Vivian Miller is a high-powered CIA analyst, happily married to a man she adores, and the mother of four beautiful children — until she makes a shocking discovery that makes her question everything she believes.

She thought she knew her husband inside and out. But now she wonders if it was all a lie. How far will she go to learn the truth? And does she really Need to Know?

Happy reading! We can’t wait to hear what you think of these books in our coming meetings.