Spice up your summer reading list with a brand-new month’s worth of Bright Spot book club fun, hosted by YMCA staff members and book lovers Beth Morgan and Andrea Muller.

We’ll be reading a piece of lit every two weeks, which will give us plenty of time to dig deep and get familiar with the themes, characters, and storyline. Then, we’ll share our impressions with each other over a virtual coffee or tea. As always, our intention is to build connections with all of you through our shared love of reading!

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 Beth Morgan, General Manager of the Markham YMCA, and 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 (scroll down to see the reading schedule!). We’ll read a new book every two weeks, then get together virtually to discuss them.

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, 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 already have our selection for June but we want to hear your suggestions for the coming months, too. Head over to The Bright Spot and send us your ideas through the live chat.

In the meantime, here are the June titles we’ll be digging into.

Please note: all of the following synopses are quoted directly from goodreads.com.

June 11 meeting: Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage: Stories

“In the her tenth collection (the title story of which is the basis for the new film Hateship Loveship), Alice Munro achieves new heights, creating narratives that loop and swerve like memory, and conjuring up characters as thorny and contradictory as people we know ourselves.

A tough-minded housekeeper jettisons the habits of a lifetime because of a teenager’s practical joke. A college student visiting her brassy, unconventional aunt stumbles on an astonishing secret and its meaning in her own life. An incorrigible philanderer responds with unexpected grace to his wife’s nursing-home romance.

Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage is Munro at her best, tirelessly observant, serenely free of illusion, deeply and gloriously humane.”

June 18 & 25 meetings: The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel

“From the award-winning author of Station Eleven, a captivating novel of money, beauty, white-collar crime, ghosts, and moral compromise in which a woman disappears from a container ship off the coast of Mauritania and a massive Ponzi scheme implodes in New York, dragging countless fortunes with it.

Vincent is a bartender at the Hotel Caiette, a five-star glass and cedar palace on an island in British Columbia. Jonathan Alkaitis works in finance and owns the hotel. When he passes Vincent his card with a tip, it’s the beginning of their life together. That same day, Vincent’s half-brother, Paul, scrawls a note on the windowed wall of the hotel: “Why don’t you swallow broken glass.” Leon Prevant, a shipping executive for a company called Neptune-Avramidis, sees the note from the hotel bar and is shaken to his core. Thirteen years later Vincent mysteriously disappears from the deck of a Neptune-Avramidis ship. Weaving together the lives of these characters, The Glass Hotel moves between the ship, the skyscrapers of Manhattan, and the wilderness of northern Vancouver Island, painting a breathtaking picture of greed and guilt, fantasy and delusion, art and the ghosts of our pasts.”

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