Book Club Events 2018-2019

Sept 5: Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind.

Signal Books, UK, 2014, first published in Hebrew in Israel, 2011, 443 pp.

The first book, an international best-seller by world historian, Yuval Noah Harari of Hebrew University, Jerusalem, provides a panoramic view of human history from our origins as animals in a ‘state of nature’ 2.5 million years ago to our current status as “master of the entire planet and the terror of the ecosystem.” Always provocative and controversial, Harari holds a mirror up before humankind and asks us to look honestly at ourselves in our past and in our current precariousness.

Oct 1: Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out?

Henry Holt, New York, 2019, 277 pp

Bill McKibben, himself author of several best-sellers on the threat of global warming, openly questions whether humanity may falter. “Put simply between ecological destruction and technological hubris, the human experiment is now in question.” Wise and sobering, McKibben names the game, the state of play, and the “outside chance” that we may have to “keep the human game going.”

The Book Club Committee invites fellows to propose books for inclusion in the program series. We intend to offer works — fiction and non-fiction — that command our attention or address themes of public importance. Email David Milne at to propose a book..

Nov 5: Miriam Toews, A Complicated Kindness
(Chairs: Linda Hutcheon & Magdalene Redekop)

Winner of the Governor General’s Award for Fiction, this work was judged by the jury to be “an unforgettable coming-of-age story — melancholic and hopeful, as beautifully complicated as life itself.”

Jan 7: Thomas Piketty Capital in the Twenty-First Century
(Chair: Peter Russell)

Nobel laureate Paul Krugman salutes French economist Thomas Piketty as “arguably the world’s leading expert on income and wealth inequality.” Marshaling data from twenty countries, Piketty shows the stark distributional question at the heart of capitalist societies.

Feb 4: John Suchet, Beethoven: The Man Revealed
Optional Extract: Joseph Kerman, Beethoven
(Chairs: Deanne Bogdan & David Milne)

We celebrate the 250th anniversary year of Beethoven’s birth with this engaging, non-technical biography that captures the man and his genius. Joseph Kerman’s brief analysis of Beethoven’s music in the official Grove Dictionary supplements the program.

Mar 9: Richard Harris, Rigor Mortis: How Sloppy Science Creates Worthless Cures, Crushes
Hope, and Wastes Billions
(Chair: Daphne Maurer)

Acclaimed science journalist, Richard Harris, exposes the astonishing dysfunction in the biomedical sciences, its research culture, and its egregious health consequences.

April 6: Peter Russell, Canada’s Odyssey: A Country Based on Incomplete Conquests
(Chair: Louis Pauly)

A “magisterial political analysis,” declares Hugh Segal, and “a must-read book with a new and compelling take on the evolution of our nation.”

May 5 Eso Edugyan, Washington Black
(Chair: Mary Jane Ashley)

A searing novel which takes the reader into the soul of a young boy experiencing slavery and freedom. It is by turns elegiac and heart-wrenching, and its language sublime — disarmingly simple, yet immensely subtle.

June 2 Margaret Atwood, The Testaments
(Chairs: Russell Brown and Donna Bennett)

This much anticipated sequel to Margaret Atwood’s Handmaid’s Tale takes readers more deeply into a dystopian future. Set 15 years after the end of the first novel, it is narrated by three female characters.