October 19, November 23, January 25, February 22, March 8
11:00 am – 12:30 pm
Exchange and challenge ideas, meet new friends, and enjoy engaging discussions about books in a friendly and informal setting. Monthly gatherings are facilitated by Beverley Fingerhut. Fall titles include: Hillbilly Elegies by D.J Vance and The History of Love by Nicole Krauss.
Make a day of it at the MNjcc – come for our morning Book Club gathering and stay for our afternoon cultural program, concert, lecture or workshop.
Thursday October 19: Hillbilly Elegies by D.J Vance
Thursday November 23: The History of Love by Nicole Krauss
Thursday January 25: Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
Thursday February 22: Medicine Walk by Richard Wagamese
Thursday March 8: Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf
Thursday October 19
Hillbilly Elegies by D.J Vance
#1 New York Times Bestseller, Named By The Times as one of "6 Books To Help Understand Trump's Win" and soon to be a major-motion picture directed by Ron Howard.
Hillbilly Elegy is a passionate and personal analysis of a culture in crisis—that of white working-class Americans. The decline of this group, a demographic of our country that has been slowly disintegrating over forty years, has been reported on with growing frequency and alarm, but has never before been written about as searingly from the inside. J. D. Vance tells the true story of what a social, regional, and class decline feels like when you were born with it hung around your neck.
The Vance family story begins hopefully in postwar America. J. D.’s grandparents were “dirt poor and in love,” and moved north from Kentucky’s Appalachia region to Ohio in the hopes of escaping the dreadful poverty around them. They raised a middle-class family, and eventually their grandchild (the author) would graduate from Yale Law School, a conventional marker of their success in achieving generational upward mobility.
But as the family saga of Hillbilly Elegy plays out, we learn that this is only the short, superficial version. Vance’s grandparents, aunt, uncle, sister, and, most of all, his mother, struggled profoundly with the demands of their new middle-class life, and were never able to fully escape the legacy of abuse, alcoholism, poverty, and trauma so characteristic of their part of America. Vance piercingly shows how he himself still carries around the demons of their chaotic family history.
A deeply moving memoir with its share of humor and vividly colorful figures, Hillbilly Elegy is the story of how upward mobility really feels. And it is an urgent and troubling meditation on the loss of the American dream for a large segment of this country.
Thursday November 23
The History of Love by Nicole Krauss
A New York Times review of The History of Love dubbed the book "Jewish Magic Realism," perhaps as a way of describing how the novel somehow—maybe by magic?—weaves together very different threads into a beautiful brocade of love, loss, and literature.
Leo Gursky taps his radiator each evening to let his upstairs neighbor know he’s still alive. But lie wasn’t always like this; sixty years ago, in the Polish village where he was born, Leo fell in love and wrote a book. And although he doesn't know it yet, that book also survived: crossing oceans and generations, and changing lives... Sixty years later and half a world away, fourteen-year-old Alma, who was named after a character in that book, is trying to find a cure for her mother's loneliness. Believing she might discover it in an old book her mother is lovingly translating. But when a mysterious letter arrives in the mail, she undertakes an adventure to find her namesake and save her family.
“Wonderful and haunting…deftly layered…its mysteries are intricate and absorbing and its characters unforgettable….Not quite a thriller, not exactly a coming-of-age story, nor a Holocaust memoir, The History of Love manages to be all three and also something more: a breathtaking meditation on loss and love. It’s the sort of book that makes life bearable after all.” — Miami Herald
Thursday January 25
Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
In this bestselling, page-turning saga, four generations of a poor Korean immigrant family fight to control their destiny in 20th-century Japan, exiled from a home they never knew.
"There could only be a few winners, and a lot of losers. And yet we played on, because we had hope that we might be the lucky ones."
In the early 1900s, teenaged Sunja, the adored daughter of a crippled fisherman, falls for a wealthy stranger at the seashore near her home in Korea. He promises her the world, but when she discovers she is pregnant-and that her lover is married-she refuses to be bought. Instead, she accepts an offer of marriage from a gentle, sickly minister passing through on his way to Japan. But her decision to abandon her home, and to reject her son's powerful father, sets off a dramatic saga that will echo down through the generations.
Richly told and profoundly moving, Pachinko is a story of love, sacrifice, ambition, and loyalty. From bustling street markets to the halls of Japan's finest universities to the pachinko parlors of the criminal underworld, Lee's complex and passionate characters-strong, stubborn women, devoted sisters and sons, fathers shaken by moral crisis-survive and thrive against the indifferent arc of history.
Thursday February 22
Medicine Walk by Richard Wagamese
This Book Club gathering is generously sponsored by Penguin Random House Canada.
In a recent conversation with Shelagh Rogers and Joseph Boyden about storytelling as redemption, Richard Wagamese spoke about the role of stories in his life. Throughout his writing career, first as a journalist and then as a novelist, he said he’d sought clarity and connection between native people and settlers. “The story of Canada is the story of her relationship with native people,” he said. “If we lean over the back fence and share part of that story with the person on the other side of the fence, we bring each other closer.”
Franklin Starlight is called to visit his father, Eldon. He's sixteen years old and has had the most fleeting of relationships with the man. The rare moments they've shared haunt and trouble Frank, but he answers the call, a son's duty to a father. He finds Eldon decimated after years of drinking, dying of liver failure in a small town flophouse. Eldon asks his son to take him into the mountains, so he may be buried in the traditional Ojibway manner. What ensues is a journey through the rugged and beautiful backcountry, and a journey into the past, as the two men push forward to Eldon's end. From a poverty-stricken childhood, to the Korean War, and later the derelict houses of mill towns, Eldon relates both the desolate moments of his life and a time of redemption and love and in doing so offers Frank a history he has never known, the father he has never had, and a connection to himself he never expected.
A novel about love, friendship, courage, and the idea that the land has within it powers of healing, Medicine Walk reveals the ultimate goodness of its characters and offers a deeply moving and redemptive conclusion. Wagamese's writing soars and his insight and compassion are matched by his gift of communicating these to the reader.
Thursday March 8
Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf
In the familiar setting of Holt, Colorado, home to all of Kent Haruf’s inimitable fiction, Addie Moore pays an unexpected visit to a neighbor, Louis Waters. Her husband died years ago, as did his wife, and in such a small town they naturally have known of each other for decades; in fact, Addie was quite fond of Louis’s wife. His daughter lives hours away, her son even farther, and Addie and Louis have long been living alone in empty houses, the nights so terribly lonely, especially with no one to talk with. But maybe that could change? As Addie and Louis come to know each other better–their pleasures and their difficulties–a beautiful story of second chances unfolds, making Our Souls at Night the perfect final installment to this beloved writer’s enduring contribution to American literature.
About The Facilitator
MNjcc Book Club facilitator Beverley Fingerhut is a former docent of the Art Gallery of Ontario, with honour degrees in both art and history. Currently Beverley is a National Program Director at the Centre of Excellence in Business Analysis at the Schulich Executive Education Centre, Schulich School of Business, and York University. She has over 30 years of experience in the areas of strategic planning, needs analysis, facilitation, and managing change. As an academic, Beverley has been the course director for Entrepreneur Business Development Skills for the University of Toronto’s School of Continuing Studies as well as a Director and an adjunct professor in the Professional and Technical Writing Programme at York University.Beverley has assisted in researching, writing and editing two books and articles on complex decision making and strategic planning. In addition to her consulting and facilitation roles, Beverley has spoken at conferences on topics related to linking business and technology.
“I appreciate that [Beverley] spends the time researching the background of the author, relevant themes, time period and reviews of each book. She comes prepared to facilitate a discussion and makes sure that each participant has the chance to express their point of view. She sets the tone that this is a safe and respectful environment for everyone.” - Elyssa Marks
“I would like to thank you for initiating the Book Club program. It has been a very enjoyable experience to participate in the lively discussions following Beverley's thorough informative research, presentation and probing questions on the carefully chosen and interesting book selections.” - Beverley Ross
“I really enjoy this Book Club. Although I am involved in several other book groups, I find this one very special. I really appreciate all the work that Beverley puts into her presentations and I have enjoyed the selection of books. What I find most interesting is the group itself. We don't know one another and we come from different backgrounds, so we all bring different perspectives to our discussions.” - Maxanne Ezer