Book club sets

Book club sets | ESL book club sets | Frequently asked questions

Book club sets

BPL book club sets consist of 10 copies of a single title available for an extended loan period of six weeks. Each set comes with short review(s), an author biography and a list of questions to get your group started on discussion. The books and accompanying material are packaged in a canvas carrying bag.

Book club sets will be signed out to a single BPL library card holder who will be responsible for ensuring that:

  • the set is returned on time
  • all items are returned with the set
  • all items in the set are returned in good condition

You may borrow a maximum of two sets at a time and renewals are not permitted. Book club sets may be reserved online via our library catalogue for pick up at any BPL branch. Sets can be returned to any BPL location. Want to know more? Read our FAQs below.

Download a printer-friendly list of book club sets [PDF].

The accidental, by Ali Smith
Ali Smith
Book Club Set #24

Amber, 30-something, barefoot and a stranger, shows up at the door of the Norfolk cottage that the Smarts are renting for the summer.  As Amber insinuates herself into the family, the question of who she is fades away. Instead, dazzled by her seeming exoticism, the Smarts begin to examine their own lives through the searing lens of Amber's perceptions.

All my puny sorrows, by Miriam Toews
Miriam Toews
Book Club Set #65

Elfrieda, a world-renowned pianist, is glamorous, happily married and wants to die. Yolandi, her younger sister is divorced, broke, and desperately wants to keep her older sister alive. As the situation becomes ever more complicated, Yoli faces the most terrifying decision of her life.

American dervish, by Ayad Akhtar
Ayad Akhtar
Book Club Set #44

A young Pakistani boy, whose parents left the fundamentalists behind when they came to America, finds transformation and a path to happiness through a family friend, Mina, who shows him the beauty and power of the Quran.

An atlas of impossible longing, by Anuradha Roy
Anuradha Roy
Book Club Set #21

Mukunda, an adopted orphan boy and Bakul, the motherless granddaughter of the house, grow up together in Bengal. As they grow, their closeness matures into something else, and Mukunda is banished to Calcutta. He prospers in the turbulent years after Partition, but his thoughts stay with Bakul and he knows that he must return.

Atlas of unknowns, by Tania James
Tania James
Book Club Set #30

In the wake of their mother’s mysterious death, sisters Linno and Anju are raised in Kerala by their father. Both girls dream of coming to the United States, but it is Anju who wins a scholarship to a prestigious school by betraying her sister. When Anju's lies are eventually exposed, her future crumbles and she runs away. Meanwhile, Linno has built a career in Kerala and, despite her sister's betrayal, resolves to find Anju and bring her home. 

The Beauty of Humanity Movement, by Camilla Gibb
Camilla Gibb
Book Club Set #31

Tu' is a young tour guide working in Hanoi who meets Maggie who is Vietnamese by birth but has lived most of her life in the U.S. She has returned to her country of origin in search of clues to her dissident father's disappearance during the war. Weaving the story together is Old Man Hung who has found a way to feed hope and pho to his community of pondside dwellers.

Behind the beautiful forevers, by Katherine Boo
Katherine Boo
Book Club Set #55 Non-fiction

Annawadi is a settlement in the shadow of luxury hotels near the Mumbai airport, and as India starts to prosper, its people are filled with hope. Abdul, a reflective and enterprising Muslim teenager, sees 'a fortune beyond counting' in the recyclable garbage that richer people throw away. But when Abdul is falsely accused in a shocking tragedy, and terror and a global recession rock the city, suppressed tensions over religion, caste, sex, power, and economic envy turn brutal.

Behold the dreamers, by Imbolo Mbui
Imbolo Mbui
Book Club Set #95

In the fall of 2007, Jende Jonga, an immigrant living in Harlem, lands a job as a chauffeur for a senior executive at Lehman Brothers. Jende's economic situation improves when his wife Neni is hired as household help. But in the course of their work, Jende and Neni begin to witness infidelities, skirmishes, and family secrets. Then, with the collapse of Lehman Brothers, a tragedy changes their lives forever.

Black swan green, by David Mitchell
David Mitchell
Book Club Set #22

January, I982. Thirteen-year-old Jason Taylor – covert stammerer and reluctant poet – anticipates a stultifying year in his backwater English village. But he hasn't reckoned with bullies, simmering family discord, the Falklands War, a threatened gypsy invasion and those mysterious entities known as girls. Charting thirteen months in the black hole between childhood and adolescence, this is a captivating novel, wry, painful and vibrant with the stuff of life.

The Break, by Katherena Vermette
Katherena Vermette
Book Club Set #77

When Stella, a young Métis mother in Winnipeg looks out her window one evening and spots someone in trouble on the Break, a barren field on an isolated strip of land outside her house, she calls the police to alert them to a possible crime. In a series of shifting narratives, people who are connected both directly and indirectly with the victim, tell their personal stories leading up to that fateful night.

Brother, by David Chariandy
David Chariandy
Book Club Set #94

Set in a housing complex during the sweltering heat of a Toronto summer, two brothers, sons of Trinidadian immigrants, battle against the prejudices and low expectations that confront them as young men of black and brown ancestry. But their bright hopes are violently, irrevocably thwarted by a tragic shooting, and the police crackdown and suspicion that follows.

Burgess boys, by Elizabeth Strout
Elizabeth Strout
Book Club Set #57

Catalyzed by a nephew's thoughtless prank, a pair of brothers confronts painful psychological issues surrounding the freak accident that killed their father when they were boys – a loss linked to a heartbreaking deception that shaped their personal and professional lives.

Burial rites, by Hannah Kent
Hannah Kent
Book Club Set #56

Inspired by a true story and set against the stark landscape of nineteenth century Iceland, this book tells of the final days of Agnes Magnúsdóttir, a young woman accused of murdering her employer. She is sent to an isolated farmhouse to await her execution and there she meets a young priest who is given the task of preparing Agnes for her death.

Come thou tortoise, by Jessica Grant
Jessica Grant
Book Club Set #17

This is a debut novel of astonishing wisdom and subtle humour from an award-winning young writer. It is a delightfully off-beat story that features an opinionated tortoise, Winnifred, and an IQ-challenged narrator who find themselves in the middle of a life-changing mystery.

Constellation of vital phenomena, by Anthony Marra
Anthony Marra
Book Club Set #45

Eight-year-old Havaa, Akhmed, the neighbour who rescues her after her father's disappearance in war torn Chechnya, and Sonia, the doctor who shelters her over 5 dramatic days in December 2004, must all reach back into their pasts to unravel the intricate mystery of coincidence, betrayal and forgiveness which unexpectedly binds them and decides their fate.

Cool water, by Dianne Warren
Dianne Warren
Book Club Set #26

Juliet, Saskatchewan sits at the edge of the Little Snake sand hills. The heart of the town beats in the rich and overlapping stories of its people, and their stories bring the prairie desert and the town to vivid and enduring life. This wonderfully entertaining, witty and deeply felt novel brims with forgiveness as its flawed people stumble towards the future.

Dancehall Years, by Joan Haggerty
Joan Haggerty
Book Club Set #96

This complex family saga begins one summer on Bowen Island during the Depression and moves through Pearl Harbour, the forced evacuation of the Japanese and three generations into the 1980s. The island's dance hall, a well-known destination for both soldiers on leave and summer visitors, becomes the emotional landmark for time passing and time remembered.

The dinner, by Herman Koch
Herman Koch
Book Club Set #46

Meeting at an Amsterdam restaurant for dinner, two couples move from small talk to the wrenching shared challenge of their teenage sons' act of violence that has triggered a police investigation and revealed the extent to which each family will go to protect those they love.

Do not say we have nothing, by Madeleine Thien
Madeleine Thien
Book Club Set #92

In Canada in 1991, ten-year-old Marie and her mother invite a guest into their home: a young woman who has fled China in the aftermath of the Tiananmen Square protests. She tells Marie the story of her family in Revolutionary China, where three musicians, the shy and brilliant composer Sparrow, the violin prodigy Zhuli, and the enigmatic pianist Kai, struggle during China's Cultural Revolution to remain loyal to one another and to the music they have devoted their lives.

Dubious salvation of Jack V, by Jacques Strauss
Jacques Strauss
Book Club Set #47

It's 1989, and in the dying years of the Apartheid regime, eleven-year-old Jack Viljee, the son of an Afrikaans father and an English mother relies, on the family's beloved maid, Susie. But the household is upset by the arrival of Percy, Susie's petulant fifteen-year old son. After one particularly humiliating event, Jack betrays Susie and learns that even the most childish act can avalanche beyond his most outlandish imaginings. 

Elegance of the hedgehog, by Muriel Barbery
Muriel Barbery
Book Club Set #8

'Only' the concierge of a wealthy Parisian apartment building, Renee is passionate about culture and the arts. Several floors up, Paloma is determined to avoid the predictably bourgeois future laid out for her and plans to commit suicide on her thirteenth birthday. This funny, moving and wise novel was an international publishing sensation.

Everybody has everything, by Katrina Onstad
Katrina Onstad
Book Club Set #32

What happens when the tidy, prosperous life of an urban couple is turned inside out by a tragedy with unexpected consequences? After a car crash leaves their friend Marcus dead and his wife Sarah in a coma, Ana and James are shocked to discover that they have become the legal guardians of a 2½-year-old, Finn. Finn's crash-landing in their lives throws into high relief deeply rooted, and sometimes long-hidden, truths about themselves, both individually and as a couple. Several chaotic, poignant, and life-changing weeks as a most unusual family give rise to an often unasked question: Can everyone be a parent?

Exit West, by Mohsin Hamid
Mohsin Hamid
Book Club Set #93

In a country teetering on the brink of civil war, Nadia and Saeed meet and embark on a furtive love affair. When their city explodes, they begin to hear whispers about doors that can whisk people far away, for a price. As violence escalates, they decide that they no longer have a choice. Leaving their homeland and their old lives behind, they find a door and step through it.

Family Fang, by Kevin Wilson
Kevin Wilson
Book Club Set #40

For as long as they can remember, Buster and Annie Fang have starred (unwillingly) in their parents' madcap performance art pieces. But now that they are grown up, the chaos of their childhood has made it difficult to cope with life outside the fishbowl of their parents' strange world. When the lives they've built come crashing down, brother and sister have nowhere to go but home, where they discover that their parents are planning one last performance.

February, by Lisa Moore
Lisa Moore
Book Club Set #48

Helen O'Mara's life is divided between her everyday existence as mother and grandmother and her internal memories and reflections on her life with her late husband Cal who died long ago aboard the oil rig Ocean Ranger. Then Helen's wayward son John returns home asking his mother to help him decide how to deal with his girlfriend's pregnancy.

Galore, by Michael Crummey
Michael Crummey
Book Club Set #33

A family saga and love story set in the improbable medievalesque world that was rural Newfoundland. Remote and isolated, exposed to extremes of climate and fate, the people of Paradise Deep persist in a realm where the line between the everyday and the otherworldly is hard to distinguish.

Golden mean, by Annabel Lyon
Annabel Lyon
Book Club Set #14

Aristotle must postpone his dream of succeeding Plato at the Academy in Athens when he is forced to tutor Alexander, a prince of Macedon. Aristotle's resentment at his situation is soon overcome by the boy's intellectual potential and his capacity for surprise.

Good to a fault, by Marina Endicott
Marina Endicott
Book Club Set #12

Clara Purdy is forty-three and single. Driving to the bank during her lunch hour, she crashes into a sharp left turn, taking the Gage family in the other car with her. When bruises on the mother, Lorraine, prove to be late-stage cancer, Clara unexpectedly moves Lorraine's three children into her own house − and then has to cope with the consequences of practical goodness, and whether goodness is her only motivation. 

H is for hawk, by Helen Macdonald
Helen Macdonald
Book Club Set #67 Non-fiction

In this original blend of memoir, biography and nature writing, Cambridge professor and falconer Helen Macdonald adopts and trains a goshawk called Mabel, a notoriously difficult bird, as a way to cope with the grief of her father's death.

Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood
Margaret Atwood
Book Club Set #89

In the world of the near future, Offred is a Handmaid in the home of the Commander and his wife. She is allowed out daily to buy food, and hopes that the Commander makes her pregnant, because she is only valued if her ovaries are viable. She remembers the years before, when she was an independent woman, had a job of her own, a husband and child. But all of that is gone now and everything has changed.

Hare with amber eyes, by Edmund De Waal
Edmund De Waal
Book Club Set #42 Non-fiction

A memoir in which brilliant ceramicist Edmund De Waal travels the world to stand in the great buildings his forebears once inhabited. It traces the lines of a remarkable family against the backdrop of a tumultuous century.

How it all began, by Penelope Lively
Penelope Lively
Book Club Set #34

The mugging of a retired schoolteacher on a London street has unexpected repercussions for her friends and neighbours when it inadvertently reveals an illicit love affair, leads to a business partnership and helps an immigrant to reinvent his life.

How to get filthy rich in rising Asia, by Mohsin Hamid
Mohsin Hamid
Book Club Set #58

The tale of a man's journey from impoverished rural boy to corporate tycoon, borrows from the business self-help books devoured by youths all over 'rising Asia.' It follows its nameless hero to the metropolis where he begins to amass an empire built on that most scarce of goods: water. Yet his heart is set on the pretty girl whose star rises along with his, their paths re-crossing, in a lifelong affair sparked by the forces that careen their fates along.

Hunting and gathering, by Anna Gavalda
Anna Gavalda
Book Club Set #35

Gavalda explores the twists of fate that connect four people in Paris. Comprised of a starving artist, her shy, aristocratic neighbor, his obnoxious but talented roommate, and a neglected grandmother, this curious, damaged quartet may be hopeless apart, but together, they may just be able to face the world.

 

I saw a man, by Owen Sheers
Owen Sheers
Book Club Set #68

What happens that drastically changes the lives of lonely widower Michael Turner and the family next door that has befriended him? A tense, intelligent page-turner that is also an unusual examination of grief, responsibility and redemption.

The Illegal, by Lawrence Hill
Lawrence Hill
Book Club Set #79

Keita Ali is on the run and desperate to flee Zantoroland, a mountainous island that produces the fastest marathoners in the world. He signs on with a notorious marathon agent who provides Keita with a chance to run the Boston marathon. But when Keita fails to place among the top finishers, rather than being sent back to his own country, he goes into hiding.

The immortal life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot
Rebecca Skloot
Book Club Set #59 Non-fiction

Documents the story of how scientists took cells from an unsuspecting descendant of freed slaves and created a human cell line that has been kept alive indefinitely, enabling discoveries in such areas as cancer research, in vitro fertilization, and gene mapping. A riveting story of the collision between ethics, race, and medicine.

In the dark, by Deborah Moggach
Deborah Moggach
Book Club Set #5

Eithne Clay runs a dreary boarding house in London at the end of the First World War. Into her life comes Neville Turk, a lusty butcher with an eye for both the recently widowed Eithne and her real estate. He woos her with prime cuts of meat, but has sinister plans for her boarding house.

The Inconvenient Indian, by Thomas King
Thomas King
Book Club Set #60 Non-fiction

In this critical and personal meditation the remarkable Thomas King writes about what it means to be "Indian" in North America. Rich with dark and light, pain and magic, this book distills the insights gleaned from that meditation, weaving the curiously circular tale of the relationship between non-Natives and Natives in the centuries since the two first encountered each other.

Kitchens of the great Midwest, by J. Ryan Stradel
J. Ryan Stradel
Book Club Set #69

When Lars Thorvald's wife falls in love with a dashing sommelier, he's left to raise their baby, Eva, on his own. Determined to pass on his love of food to his daughter Eva, she finds her solace and salvation in the flavors of her native Minnesota as she becomes the star chef behind a legendary and secretive pop-up supper club.

Let the great world spin, by Colum McCann
Colum McCann
Book Club Set #23

It is August, 1974, and a tightrope walker performs a quarter-mile high in the sky, on a line suspended between the two towers of the World Trade Centre. In the city below, characters’ lives intersect: Corrigan, a radical young Irish monk, struggles with his own demons; a group of mothers gather in a Park Avenue apartment to mourn their sons who died in Vietnam and Tillie, a thirty-eight-year-old grandmother, turns tricks alongside her teenage daughter. 

Lieutenant, by Kate Grenville
Kate Grenville
Book Club Set #2

In 1787 Lieutenant Thomas Rooke officer and astronomer sets sail from Portsmouth with the First Fleet and its cargo of convicts destined for New South Wales. As the newcomers struggle to establish a settlement, Rooke comes to know the aboriginal people and forges a remarkable connection with one child which will change his life in ways he never imagined.

Life after life, by Kate Atkinson
Kate Atkinson
Book Club Set #70

Ursula Todd is born on a cold snowy night in 1910 – twice. As she grows up during the first half of the twentieth century in Britain Ursula dies and is brought back to life again and again. With a seemingly infinite number of lives it appears as though Ursula has the ability to alter the history of the world, should she so choose.

Lonely city, by Olivia Laing
Olivia Laing
Book Club Set #80 Non-fiction

This roving, cultural history of urban loneliness is centered on the ultimate city: Manhattan, that teeming island of concrete and glass. What does it mean to be lonely? How do we live, if we're not intimately involved with another human being? Part memoir, part biography, this book is a celebration of the state of loneliness.

Madonnas of Leningrad, by Debra Dean
Debra Dean
Book Club Set #4

Struggling with Alzheimer's, Marina recalls her work at the Hermitage Museum and the saving of its paintings during the Siege of Leningrad. 'An unforgettable tale of love, survival and the power of imagination'.

Manhattan beach, by Jennifer Egan
Jennifer Egan
Book Club Set #91

Interconnected narratives tell the story of young Anna whose beloved father disappears during the Depression while working for the mob. Later, during World War II, she becomes the first female diver at the Brooklyn Naval Yard, repairing ships under water. Then a chance meeting at a nightclub with a man from her father’s past helps her understand the complexity of her father's life and the reasons he might have vanished.

Medicine walk, by Richard Waganese
Richard Waganese
Book Club Set #71

Set in the dramatic landscape of the BC Interior, sixteen year-old Franklin Starlight is called to visit his father, Eldon, a man he barely knows. The rare moments they have shared trouble Frank, but he answers the call, to find Eldon dying of liver failure after years of heavy drinking. Eldon asks his son to take him into the mountains, so he may be buried in the traditional Ojibway manner.

Memory of love, by Aminatta Forna
Aminatta Forna
Book Club Set #36

While a gifted young surgeon is haunted by memories of the civil war that has decimated his Sierra Leone home, a patient relates disturbing stories about the post-colonial years and a well-intentioned British psychiatrist draws all of them into the path of an enigmatic woman.

Miller's Valley, by Anna Quindlen
Anna Quindlen
Book Club Set #81

Growing up in the 1960s as a young girl in Miller's Valley – an ordinary farming town that may be facing its final days – Mimi is observing adults, selling corn, and watching the world around her change. This novel takes us through the changing eras of Mimi and her family, as their secrets are revealed, and the heartbreaks of growing up and falling in love with the wrong man are overcome.

Miss Emily, by Nuala O'Connor
Nuala O'Connor
Book Club Set #72

Despite their differences in age and the upstairs-downstairs divide in the family, Irish maid Ada Concannon strikes up a deep friendship with Miss Emily Dickinson, the gifted elder daughter living a spinster's life at home. But Emily's passion for words begins to dominate her life, and when Ada's safety and reputation are threatened Emily must face down her own demons in order to help her friend, with shocking consequences.

My name is Lucy Barton, by Elizabeth Strout
Elizabeth Strout
Book Club Set #82

It is the mid-1980s and Lucy Barton is recovering slowly from what should have been a simple operation. Her mother, to whom she hasn't spoken for many years, comes to see her and a simple hospital visit becomes a portal to the most tender relationship of all – the one between mother and daughter.

The news where you are, by Catherine O'Flynn
Catherine O'Flynn
Book Club Set #27

This heartbreaking, yet hilarious novel tells the story of Frank, a local TV news presenter in England. Beneath his awkwardly corny screen persona, Frank is haunted by disappearances: the mysterious hit-and-run that killed his predecessor Phil Smethway; the demolition of his father's post-war architecture; and the unmarked passing of those who die alone in the city. Frank struggles to make sense of these absences whilst having to report endless local news stories and trying to cope with his resolutely miserable mother.

North of normal, by Cea Sunrise Person
Cea Sunrise Person
Book Club Set #83 Non-fiction

This compelling memoir tells of a childhood spent with a dysfunctional family in the Canadian wilderness. In 1970, Cea was born to a 16-year-old Californian who had moved with her counterculture parents to the backwoods of western Canada to live off the grid and lead a nomadic life. It is a searing story of physical, emotional, and psychological survival and a testament to the resilience of children faced with appalling neglect.

Old filth, by Jane Gardam
Jane Gardam
Book Club Set #9

Edward Feathers aka Filth (Failed in London Try Hong Kong), an international lawyer now retired to England, reminisces on his life after the death of his wife. Brilliantly constructed - going backwards and forwards in time, yet constantly working towards the secret at its core - 'Old Filth' is funny and heart-breaking.

Our souls at night, by Kent Haruf
Kent Haruf
Book Club Set #73

A senior-aged widow and widower forge a loving bond over shared loneliness and respective histories, provoking local gossip and the disapproval of their grown children in ways that are further complicated by an extended visit by a sad young grandchild

The outcast, by Sadie Jones
Sadie Jones
Book Club Set #25

In 1950s England the tragic death of his mother leaves ten year old Lewis deeply isolated. Ignored by his grief-stricken father, an act of inarticulate anger gets Lewis two years in prison for arson.  On his return home, the only person who seems to understand him is Kit, the daughter of his father's boss and also an outsider. Mutual distrust between Lewis and the locals grows, but Kit may be able to save Lewis.

 

Paris Wife, by Paula McLain
Paula McLain
Book Club Set #41

Meeting through mutual friends in Chicago, Hadley is intrigued by brash "beautiful boy" Ernest Hemingway, and after a brief courtship and small wedding, they take off for Paris, where Hadley makes a convincing transformation from an overprotected child to a game and brave young woman who puts up with impoverished living conditions and shattering loneliness to prop up her husband's career.

Practical Jean, by Trevor Cole
Trevor Cole
Book Club Set #37

Jean Vale Horemarsh is an ordinary, small-town woman with the usual challenges of middle age. She's content, mostly, with the life she's built: a semi-successful career as a ceramics artist, a close collection of women friends, a comfortable marriage with a kind if otherwise unextraordinary man. And then Jean sees her mother go through the final devastating months of cancer, and realizes that her fondest wish is to protect her dearest friends from the indignities of aging and illness. That's when she decides to kill them...

Quiet: the power of introverts, by Susan Cain
Susan Cain
Book Club Set #84 Non-fiction

This book demonstrates how introverted people are misunderstood and undervalued in modern culture. It charts the rise of extrovert ideology while sharing anecdotal examples of how to use introvert talents to adapt to various situations. From Van Gogh's sunflowers to the invention of the personal computer, it is to introverts we owe many of the great contributions to society.

Rainbow troops, by Andrea Hirata
Andrea Hirata
Book Club Sets #51

The inspiring and closely autobiographical tale of the trials and tribulations that the ten motley students (nicknamed the Rainbow Troops) and two teachers from an elementary school on Belitong Island, Indonesia, undergo to ensure the continuation of the children's education. The poverty-stricken school suffers the constant threat of closure by government officials, greedy corporations, natural disasters and the students' own lack of self-confidence.

Room, by Emma Donoghue
Emma Donoghue
Book Club Set #20

Narrator Jack and his mother, who was kidnapped seven years earlier when she was a 19-year-old college student, celebrate his fifth birthday. They live in a tiny, 11-foot-square soundproofed cell in a converted shed in the kidnapper's yard. The sociopath, whom Jack has dubbed Old Nick, visits at night, grudgingly doling out food and supplies. But Ma, as Jack calls her, proves to be resilient and resourceful – and attempts a nail-biting escape.

Secret daughter, by Shilpi Somaya
Shilpi Somaya Gowda
Book Club Set #15

Interweaves the stories of a baby girl in India, the American doctor who adopted her, and the Indian mother who gave her up in favor of a son, as two families--one in India, the other in the United States – are changed by the child that connects them.

Secret scripture, by Sebastian Barry
Sebastian Barry
Book Club Set #11

Roseanne McNulty, once one of the most beautiful and beguiling girls in County Sligo, Ireland, is now an elderly patient at Roscommon Regional Mental Hospital. As her hundredth year draws near, she decides to record the events of her life, hiding the manuscript beneath the floorboards. Meanwhile, the hospital is preparing to close and is evaluating its patients to determine whether they can return to society. Dr. Grene, Roseanne's caretaker, takes a special interest in her case. In his research, he discovers a document written by a local priest that tells a very different story of Roseanne's life than what she recalls. As doctor and patient attempt to understand each other, they begin to uncover long-buried secrets about themselves.

Seven fallen feathers, by Tanya Talaga
Tanya Talaga
Book Club Set #90 Non-fiction

Over the span of ten years, seven high school students died in Thunder Bay, Ontario. The seven were hundreds of miles away from their families, forced to leave their reserve because there was no high school there for them to attend. Award-winning journalist Tanya Talaga delves into the history of this northern city that has come to manifest, and struggle with, human rights violations past and present against Indigenous communities.

Shanghai girls, by Lisa See
Lisa See
Book Club Set #13

In 1937, Shanghai is the Paris of Asia, a city of great wealth and glamour.  Twenty-one-year-old Pearl Chin and her younger sister May are having the time of their lives until their father tells them that he has gambled away their wealth. To repay his debts, he must sell the girls as wives to suitors from Los Angeles. As Japanese bombs fall on their beloved city, Pearl and May set out on the journey of a lifetime, from the Chinese countryside to the shores of America.

The Silent Wife, by A.S.A. Harrison
A.S.A. Harriuson
Book CLub Set #61

Jodi and Todd are at a bad place in their marriage. Much is at stake, including the affluent life they lead in their beautiful waterfront condo in Chicago, as she, the killer, and he, the victim, rush haplessly toward the main event. He is a committed cheater but now decides to play for keeps; she has nothing left to lose. Told in alternating voices, this is about a marriage in the throes of dissolution, a couple headed for catastrophe, concessions that can't be made, and promises that won't be kept.

State of Wonder, by Ann Patchett
Ann Patchett
Book Club Set #38

Marina Singh, who has given up her medical practice for the relative quiet of pharmaceutical research, finds her world upturned when she's suddenly sent to the Amazon. A field team there, working on a new drug, has been unresponsive for two years, and Marina's colleague Anders, who has gone to investigate, is reported dead.

Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel
Emily St. John Mandel
Book Club Set #74

One snowy night a famous Hollywood actor slumps over and dies on-stage during a production of King Lear. Hours later, the world as we know it begins to dissolve. Moving back and forth in time, this novel charts the strange twists of fate that connect five people: the actor, the man who tried to save him, the actor's first wife, his oldest friend, and a young actress with the Travelling Symphony, caught in the cross-hairs of a dangerous self-proclaimed prophet.

Strawberry fields, by Marina Lewycka
Marina Lewycka
Book Club Set #7

Two young Ukrainians discover romance and adventure as they travel the United Kingdom with a group of migrant workers. As they move through the inglorious work places of England they also discover insecurity, hideous working conditions, isolation, sexual abuse, meagre wages and scams. A hard hitting story made palatable by its very funny, sometimes farcical moments.

Sweetness at the bottom of the pie, by Alan Bradley
Alan Bradley
Book Club Set #16

Introducing Flavia de Luce, an eleven-year-old with a penchant for poison that she nurtured to defend herself from her nasty older sisters. One day, while searching for ingredients, Flavia discovers a dead body in the cucumber patch.

Tale for the time being, by Ruth Ozeki
Ruth Ozeki
Book Club Set #54

In Tokyo, sixteen-year-old Nao has decided to escape her aching loneliness and her classmates' bullying by starting a diary. Across the Pacific, Ruth, a novelist living on a remote island, discovers a collection of artifacts washed ashore in a child’s lunchbox – possibly debris from the 2011 tsunami. As the mystery of its contents unfolds, Ruth is pulled into the past, into Nao's drama and her unknown fate, and forward into her own future. 

Tell it to the trees, by Anita Rau Badami
Anita Rau Badani
Book Club Set #39

One freezing winter morning a dead body is found in the backyard of the Dharma family's house. It's the body of their tenant, Anu Krishnan. Why had she, a stranger to the mountains, been foolish enough to go out into the blizzard? From this gripping opening, Anita Rau Badami threads together a story of love and need, and of chilling secrets never told aloud.

Tell the wolves i'm home, by Carol Rifka Brunt
Carol Rifka Brunt
Book Club Set #52

It is 1987, and only one person has ever truly understood fourteen-year-old June Elbus – her uncle, the renowned painter Finn Weiss. Shy at school and distant from her older sister, June can only be herself in Finn's company. So when he dies of a mysterious illness her mother can barely speak about, June's world is turned upside down. But Finn's death brings a surprise acquaintance into June's life – someone who will help her to heal and to question what she thinks she knows about Finn, her family, and even her own heart.

This is how it always is, by Laurie Frankel
Laurie Frankel
Book Club Set #87

When Rosie and Penn and their four boys welcome the newest member of their family, no one is surprised it's another baby boy. But Claude is not like his brothers. One day he puts on a dress and refuses to take it off and when he grows up, he says, he wants to be a girl. Rosie and Penn aren't panicked at first. Kids go through phases, after all, and make-believe is fun. But soon the entire family is keeping Claude's secret, until one day it explodes.

Three souls, by Janie Chang
Janie Chang
Book Club Set #62

Behind the magnificent gates of the Song family estate in China, the Civil War upheaval has not touched Leiyin, a spoiled and idealistic teenager whose punishment for disobedience leads to exile from her family and an untimely death. Now a ghost, Leiyin must make amends to earn entry to the afterlife. But when her young daughter faces a dangerous future, Leiyin has to make a heart-wrenching choice.

Through black spruce, by Joseph Boyden
Joseph Boyden
Book Club Set #29

From internationally acclaimed author Joseph Boyden comes an astonishingly powerful novel of contemporary aboriginal life, full of the dangers and harsh beauty of both forest and city. When beautiful Suzanne Bird disappears, her sister Annie, a loner and hunter, is compelled to search for her, leaving behind their uncle Will, a man haunted by loss. While Annie travels from Toronto to New York, from modelling studios to A-list parties, Will encounters dire troubles at home. Both eventually come to painful discoveries about the inescapable ties of family.

Tigers in red weather, by Liza Klaussman
Liza Klaussman
Book Club Set #53

Nick and her cousin Helena have grown up with midnight gin parties in Martha's Vineyard on a glorious old family estate known as Tiger House. In the days following the end of WWII, Helena is off to Hollywood and a new marriage, while Nick is heading for a reunion with her own young husband, Hughes, about to return from the war. Soon the gilt begins to crack and Nick and Helena - now with their children, Daisy and Ed - try to recapture that sense of possibility. But when the children discover the victim of a brutal murder one summer on the grounds of Tiger House, the intrusion of violence causes everything to unravel.

Translation of love, by Lynne Kutsukake
Lynne Kutsukake
Book Club Set #85

Two coming-of-age girls meet at school in Tokyo during the American occupation after World War II. Aya, a repatriate from Vancouver is new to the school, and Fumi, charged with looking after her, has an older sister, Sumiko, who has disappeared. Interwoven with the stories of the two girls is that of Fumi’s missing sister who had become a GI dance girl to keep the family afloat.

The Turner house, by Angela Flournoy
Angela Flournoy
Book Club Set #75

The story of the thirteen children of Francis and Viola Turner who now have to decide what to do with the family home in east-side Detroit, when an ailing Viola is forced to leave the home she has lived in for fifty years and move in with her son.

Vanishing act of Esme Lennox
Maggie O'Farrell
Book Club Set #6

Set between the 1930s, and the present, this novel is the story of Esme, a woman edited out of her family's history, and of the secrets that come to light when, sixty years later, she is released from care, and a young woman, Iris, discovers the great aunt she never knew she had.

We are all completely beside ourselves, by Karen Joy Fowler
Karen Joy Fowler
Book Club Set #63

Coming of age in middle America, 18-year-old Rosemary evaluates how her entire youth was defined by the presence and forced removal of an endearing chimpanzee who was secretly regarded as a family member and whom Rosemary loved as a sister.

We need new names, by NoViolet Bulawayo
NoViolet Bulawayo
Book Club Set #64

Darling is only ten years old, and yet she must navigate a fragile and violent world. In Zimbabwe, she and her friends grasp at memories of before their homes were destroyed by paramilitary policemen, their school closed, and their fathers left for dangerous jobs abroad. Darling has a chance to escape to America and she travels to this new land in search of its famous abundance, only to find that her options as an immigrant are perilously few.

We're all in this together, by Amy Jones
Amy Jones
Book Club Set #86

While suffering through the early stages of dementia, Grandmother Kate Parker purposely sends herself over Thunder Bay's Kakabeka Falls in a whiskey barrel. She miraculously survives but falls into a coma, which brings her daughter home and causes her adopted son to worry he's losing the only real family he's ever known.

When the moon is low, by Nadia Hashimi
Nadia Hashimi
Book Club Set v#76

The happy, middle-class world of Mahmoud and his wife, Fereiba, implodes when their country is engulfed in war and the Taliban rise to power. Mahmoud, a civil engineer, is murdered by the new fundamentalist regime. Forced to flee Kabul with her three children, Fereiba will face an impossible choice.

Women in the castle, by Jessica Shattuck
Jessica Shattuck
Book Club Set #88

Three German women’s lives are abruptly changed when their husbands are executed for their part in an attempt to assassinate Hitler. They band together in a crumbling Bavarian castle to raise their children and keep each other standing. The book is narrated by each of the women, giving us a clear understanding of their sense of loss, inner strength and the love they have for each other. 

ESL book club sets

Develop your English reading skills by sharing books with others. These titles are popular stories adapted and abridged for the English language learner. ESL book club sets consist of 15 copies of a single title, packaged in a canvas carrying bag, and are available for an extended loan period of six weeks.

Book club sets will be signed out to a single BPL library card holder who will be responsible for ensuring that:

  • the set is returned on time
  • all items are returned with the set
  • all items in the set are returned in good condition

You may borrow a maximum of two sets at a time and renewals are not permitted. Book club sets may be reserved online via our library catalogue for pick up at any BPL branch. Sets can be returned to any BPL location. Want to know more? Read our FAQs below.

Bookworms Club Bronze, by Mark Furr
Mark Furr editor
ESL book club set

The seven short stories in this collection are from Oxford bookworms readers stage 1 and 2. Stage 1 stories are : “The Horse of Death” by Sait Faik retold by Jennifer Bassett, “The Little Hunters at the Lake” by Yalvac Ural retold by Jennifer Bassett, “Mr Harris and the Night Train” by Jennifer Bassett, “Sister Love” by John Escott, “Omega File 349: London, England” by Jennifer Bassett. Stage 2 stories are:” Tildy’s Moment” by O. Henry retold by Diane Mowat, “Andrew, Jan, the Parson and the Fox” by Thomas Hardy retold by Jennifer Bassett. The book club set also includes Bookworms Club Reading Circles Teacher’s Handbook and a folder with book club tips.

Bookworms Club: Silver, by Mark Furr
Mark Furr editor
ESL book club set

The seven short stories in this collection are from Oxford bookworms readers Stage 2 and 3. Stories from stage 2 are : the “Christmas Presents” by O. Henry retold by Diane Mowat, “Netty Sargent and the House” by Thomas Hardy retold by Jennifer Bassett, “Too Old to Rock and Roll” by Jan Mark retold by Diane Mowat,”A Walk in Amnesia” by O. Henry retold by Diane Mowat, “The Five Orange Pips” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle retold by Clare West. Stories from stage 3 are : “The Tell-tale Heart” by Edgar Allan Poe retold by Margaret Nandi, “Go Lovely Rose” by H.E. Bates retold by Rosemary Border. The book club set also includes Bookworms Club Reading Circles Teacher’s Handbook and a folder with book club tips.

Terry Barber
ESL book club set

This biography of Mahatma Gandhi is an engaging high-interest, low vocabulary book with many photos and maps. It is part of the Grass Roots Press Activitist biographies series. Readability level grade 2.

Moby Dick
Herman Melville adapted by Kathy Burke
ESL book club set

A great adventure story about the most dangerous whale in all literature. A young sailor tells the story of Captain Ahab and his men and their confrontation with Moby Dick, the great white whale. This book is Penguin reader Level 2 (elementary). Each book comes with two audio CDs.

The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency
Alexander McCall Smith retold by Anne Collins
ESL book club set

Precious Ramotswe is the only female private detective in Botswana, Africa. She is a very compassionate person and solves mysteries involving a missing husband, a missing finger and a missing child in a special way. This book is a Penguin reader Level 3 (pre-intermediate). Each book comes with two audio CDs.

Frequently asked questions

How many book club sets may be borrowed at a time?

You may have a maximum of two book club sets on your card at one time.

How do I find a book club set in the library catalogue?

In basic search, click the drop down menu and select series list (starts with…) and type in book club set. Choose the third item on the list, Book club set (Burnaby Public Library) to bring up the whole list. To find ESL book club sets, type in ESL book club set.

Can I place a hold on book club sets?

Yes, you can place a hold on a book club set via the online catalogue and have it sent to your preferred Burnaby Public Library location for pickup.

How long can I keep a book club set?

The loan period for a set is six weeks. Book club sets may not be renewed. A fine of $1 per day will be charged for an overdue set or the partial return of a set, to a maximum of $20.

Can a book club set be held for a specific meeting?

No. Due to the number of interested book clubs, we cannot take advance bookings for these sets. Sets are available on a first-come, first-served basis only.

Can book club sets be returned in a book drop?

No. Book club sets must be returned to the check-in desk at any Burnaby Public Library location during open hours. Sets cannot be returned through the book drop or to another public library system. Overdue fines are $1 per day per set, to a maximum of $20.

Can individual book club members return their own books to the library?

No. The representative who borrows the set is responsible for returning a complete book club set.

What if a book is lost?

A $15 replacement cost for a lost or damaged book will be charged to the responsible patron’s card. A $10 replacement charge will be added to the library card for loss or damage to the canvas bag. $150 (plus a $7 processing fee) will be charged for the loss or damage of the entire set.