Book Club

This Beacon-affiliated group meets online, on the fourth Thursday of the month, at 7 pm. Newcomers and drop-ins are always welcome!

Register in advance for this meeting. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

For more information, please contact

April 27, 2023

Hamnet & Judith: A novel by Maggie O’Farrell

Presenter: Joyanne Landers

Genre: Fiction,

Subjects: Shakespeare, Hamnet

Book Summary: “Hamnet & Judith is an exploration of marriage and grief written into the silent opacities of a life that is at once extremely famous and profoundly obscure…. As the book unfolds, it brings its story to a tender and ultimately hopeful conclusion: that even the greatest grief, the most damaged marriage, and most shattered heart might find some solace, some healing.”

Thursday, May 25th, 2023, 7-9 pm

Finding the Mother Tree: a biography
by Dr. Suzanne Simard
Allen Lane Canada, 2021

Presenter: Carol Woodworth

Genres/Subjects: Forest conservation, Forest ecology, Autobiography

Book Summary: A world-leading expert shares her amazing story of discovering the communication that exists between trees, and shares her own story of family and grief. Dr. Suzanne Simard was born and raised in the rainforests of British Columbia and has forged a lifelong relationship of love and respect with the trees. This relationship was the driving force behind her decision to dedicate her life to better understanding the forest and the network that connects the plant life within. With humour, emotion, and the narrative drive of a lifelong storyteller, Dr. Simard takes readers on an intimate journey of groundbreaking scientific discovery. Linking her research to her personal experiences, she recounts her life’s work uncovering the “Wood Wide Web,” the underground mycelium network that connects all the trees and plants within a forest. It is a network that allows them to share not only nutrients, but information, all of which originates from the hubs called Mother Trees. Readers will journey with Dr. Simard into this massive experiment, from dramatic encounters with wildlife to the groundbreaking “Aha” moments in a lab, from learning how to utilize this network to promote plant growth to what this network can teach us about combatting climate change. Dramatic, funny, touching, and evocative, Finding the Mother Tree offers an intimate and personal look at discovery. This book is not about how we can save the trees, but about how the trees might actually save us.”
(Source: Burnaby Public Library Catalogue)

Thursday, June 22, 2023, 7-9 pm

Where the Crawdads Sing: a mystery
by Delia Owens
G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2018

Presenter: Gail Thomson

Genres/Subjects: Coming of Age, Fiction, Mystery, Solitude, North Carolina

Book Summary: For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. She’s barefoot and wild; unfit for polite society. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark. But Kya is not what they say. Abandoned at age ten, she has survived on her own in the marsh that she calls home. A born naturalist with just one day of school, she takes life lessons from the land, learning from the false signals of fireflies the real way of this world. But while she could have lived in solitude forever, the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. Drawn to two young men from town, who are each intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new and startling world—until the unthinkable happens. In Where the Crawdads Sing, Owens juxtaposes an exquisite ode to the natural world against a heartbreaking coming of age story and a surprising murder investigation.
(Source: Burnaby Public Library Catalogue)

Thursday, July 27, 2023, 7-9 pm

Cloud Cuckoo Land: a novel
by Anthony Doerr
Scribner, c. 2021, 626 pages

Presenter: Marilyn Medén

Genres/Subjects: Fiction, Magic Realism, Libraties, Children, Space, Istanbul (Turkey) – Siege, 1453

Book Summary: The heroes of Cloud Cuckoo Land are children on the cusp of adulthood trying to figure out the world around them, and to survive. In the besieged city of Constantinople in 1453, in a public library in Lakeport, Idaho, today, and on a spaceship bound for a distant exoplanet decades from now, an ancient text provides solace and the most profound human connection to characters in peril. They all learn the story of Aethon, who longs to be turned into a bird so that he can fly to the paradise of Cloud Cuckoo Land, a better world. Cloud Cuckoo Land is about the power of story and the astonishing survival of the physical book when for thousands of years they were so rare and so feared, dying, as one character says, “in fires or floods or in the mouths of worms or at the whims of tyrants.” It is a novel about stewardship—of the book, of the Earth, of the human heart.
(Source: Burnaby Public Library Catalogue)

Thursday, August 24, 2023, 7-9 pm

Against the Undertow: a novel
by Marilyn Medén
c. 2013, 298 pages

Presenter: Elizabeth Hamilton

Genres/Subjects: Fiction, Dementia, End-of-Life

Book Summary: Marilyn Medén has spent many summers on the shore of Lake Huron. She now lives in Port Moody, B.C. In Against The Undertow Evelyn Spence, at eighty-five, a woman used to making her own decisions, and now threatened with dementia, decides to use suicide to control the end of her life. She is forced to confront the deep disquiet of a wrong she has done to a daughter, the betrayal of trust from a favoured grandson, as well as her own fear and denial. Television exposure, which she envisions as a chance to immortalize herself, turns into a trial in which she is forced into honesty and atonement. Told with sensitivity and precise language, the novel illuminates the lives of three generations.
(Source: Catalogue)