If you are looking to start your own online book club, or are already a member looking for your virtual club's next selection, our librarians have curated a collection of discussion-worthy books for you.
Along with how-to instructions for setting up your online club and where to find multiple online copies to borrow, each discussion guide provides information about the book and its author, and questions to get the conversation started and keep it rolling.
Why these books
A Study in Scarlet Women by Sherry Thomas
This book is a cozy read, and an engaging, atmospheric mystery with a dash of slow burn romance. The first novel in the Lady Sherlock series by award-winning romance writer Sherry Thomas, this historical mystery is set in Victorian times. Sherlock, Watson, Lestrade, Mycroft, and Moriarty are creatively re-imagined by the author. Charlotte Holmes, beautiful and brilliant, defies the constraints imposed on women from upper-crust Victorian society. She assumes the name of “Sherlock” and with her friend Mrs. Watson, the amateur sleuth is set to unravel mysteries and dark deeds. This book has intricate plots with a potpourri of society scandals, government spies, and mysterious deaths. It is a great introduction to a new refreshing Holmes’s world. Its characters, with their quirks and original backstories, are ones to look forward to in subsequent novels.
Catch and Kill by Ronan Farrow
A timely, page turning piece of investigative journalism sure to spark discussion, regardless of how much you know about the Harvey Weinstein case. This book will open your eyes to the conspiracy, spies, double agents and secret foreign agencies working to bury stories and silence the victims of sexual abuse by wealthy, powerful men. This book will lead you to ask difficult questions and have important discussions about sexual abuse, justice, the #MeToo movement, intimidation and the silencing of victims.
Educated by Tara Westover
Memoirs have seen a massive surge in readership in the past 20 years. Born to survivalists who rejected traditional education and health care, Westover’s description of her off-the-gird childhood is vivid and at times heart-wrenching. Her determination to escape its constraints and violence via education is motivating. Her journey to getting a Ph.D. with few odds in her favour is a testament to her grit. This candid memoir will appeal to a wide intersection of readers including young adults and adults, and offers a variety of themes that will make for a good book club discussion.
The Right to Be Cold by Sheila Watt-Cloutier
An enlightening look at the human impact of climate change. Part memoir and part call to action, The Right to Be Cold explores the parallels between safeguarding the Arctic and the survival of Inuit culture—and ultimately the world—in the face of past, present, and future environmental degradation. Sheila Watt-Cloutier passionately argues that climate change is a human rights issue and one to which all of us on the planet are inextricably linked. This book will lead to discussions about what people everywhere stand to lose if efforts to stop or reverse climate change fail. The book was the featured title for the Halton Climate Collective Reads (#HHReads) campaign in November 2020.
The Scent Keeper by Erica Bauermeister
This novel will challenge you to think about how you perceive the world through your senses and in this case, through your sense of smell. The story invites you to think of scents and smells and what significance they hold for you. Do you encounter a specific smell and feel like you’ve been transported into a different place and time or into a fond or negative memory? How would you feel if your favourite scents disappeared? The Scent Keeper is a coming-of-age story that will provoke discussion about making difficult choices, how we capture memories, how we perceive the world, what it’s like to grow up in isolation, and the journey of self-discovery.
The Shape of Family by Shilpi Somaya Gowda
Inevitably, every family will experience tragedy at some point.The Shape of Family tells the story of a family that experiences a traumatic event, grows apa rt as a result of that event and tracks their journey as they re-shape their lives in an attempt to move forward. This thought provoking novel told from each family member’s perspective is an emotional journey that will spark discussions about life, loss, marriage, culture, the American Dream, and personal resilience. If you enjoyed Shilpi Somaya Gowda’s The Secret Daughter or The Golden Son, you will surely enjoy this book too.
Three Women by Lisa Taddeo
Lisa Taddeo’s debut novel was the result of 8 years of immersive journalism. It reads like fiction and has generated a lot of buzz and rave reviews. Lisa Taddeo chose to write the personal stories of three American women Lina, Maggie, and Sloane because they were very open and patient in sharing the details of their life choices, desires, and intimate stories. The writing is richly detailed, engaging and stunningly candid. Too candid, some might opine? Taddeo is non-judgmental about the women’s life choices and private lives. Their stories and some of their choices and even underlying life-experiences hold up a mirror to other women. They raise questions we rarely discuss or perhaps even contemplate, even in a culture as open as ours. What do women really want? The stories also meaningfully connect with the #MeToo era reporting. This book is a good starter for private contemplation or book club discussions.