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Free Press Book Club

To help ease some of the isolation-related boredom, the Winnipeg Free Press has started a monthly book club which will run completely online and is open to anyone and everyone to join.

Each month, the Free Press will choose a book and share it on their website, as well as in an email to those who have registered to participate. They will send a couple of follow up notes to check in on your progress and suggest a few discussion topics and questions to think about as you go.

At the end of the month, participants will gather in a livestream book club meeting, hosted by the Free Press books editor, Ben Sigurdson, or one of us from McNally Robinson, as well as the author of the book.

Youíll be able to submit questions ahead of time, or drop them into one of the live chat boxes during the meeting. (And donít worry, the Free Press provide an easy-to-access link to the stream, so all you have to do is click.)

Below is a list of recent Book Club picks, including this month's choice. Visit the Winnipeg Free Press' website to find out which is the current pick.

Ľ This Book Club is free, although pre-registration is required. Register online here.


The Accidental Veterinarian

- by Philipp Schott

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Cats, dogs, people -- funny and heartbreaking stories from a pet veterinarian With insight and humor, Dr. Philipp Schott shares tales from the unlikely path he took into his career of veterinary science and anecdotes from his successful small-animal clinic. Dr. Schott brings to his writing the benefit of many years of expertise. Wisdom he imparts on readers includes the best way to give your cat a pill, how to prevent your very handy dog from opening a fridge, and how to handle your fish when it has half-swallowed another. Through these and other experiences, Dr. Schott also learned that veterinary medicine is as much, if not more, about the people as it is the animals. And he will have you laughing and crying as you embark on this journey of discovery with him.

You Don't Have To Die In The End

- by Anita Daher

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Eugenia Grimm is a tough girl living in a tough town at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. She drinks and fights and pushes against expectations. She is also hurting. After her father died by suicide on her eighth birthday, her older brothers drifted away and her mother up and left when she turned 14, Eugenia has not made the best choices. After a last-straw violent incident and faced with the possibility of incarceration, she is sentenced to time at an Intensive Support and Supervision Program located at a remote mountain ranch. There, she begins to make connections, explore difficult truths, and might even turn things around--until a series of events pull her into a dark spiral she may not have the strength to resist.

Persephone's Children

- by Rowan Mccandless

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FINALIST FOR 2022 MANITOBA BOOK AWARDS

After years of secrecy and silence, Rowan McCandless leaves an abusive relationship and rediscovers her voice and identity through writing.

She was never to lie to him. She was never to leave him; and she was never supposed to tell.

Persephone's Children chronicles Rowan McCandless's odyssey as a Black, biracial woman escaping the stranglehold of a long-term abusive relationship. Through a series of thematically linked and structurally inventive essays, McCandless explores the fraught and fragmented relationship between memory and trauma. Multiple mythologies emerge to bind legacy and loss, motherhood and daughterhood, racism and intergenerational trauma, mental illness and resiliency.

It is only in the aftermath that she can begin to see the patterns in her history, hear the echoes of oppression passed down from unknown, unnamed ancestors, and discover her worth and right to exist in the world.

A RARE MACHINES BOOK

The Strangers

- by Katherena Vermette

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#1 NATIONAL BESTSELLER
WINNER OF THE ATWOOD GIBSON WRITERS' TRUST PRIZE FOR FICTION
SHORTLISTED FOR THE 2022 MANITOBA BOOK AWARDS' CAROL SHIELDS WINNIPEG BOOK AWARD, MARGARET LAURENCE AWARD FOR FICTION, AND MCNALLY ROBINSON BOOK OF THE YEAR AWARD
LONGLISTED FOR THE 2021 SCOTIABANK GILLER PRIZE
A GLOBE & MAIL BEST BOOK


From the bestselling author of The Break comes a staggering intergenerational saga that explores how connected we are, even when we're no longer together--even when we're forced apart.


Cedar has nearly forgotten what her family looks like. Phoenix has nearly forgotten what freedom feels like. And Elsie has nearly given up hope. Nearly.

After time spent in foster homes, Cedar goes to live with her estranged father. Although she grapples with the pain of being separated from her mother, Elsie, and sister, Phoenix, she's hoping for a new chapter in her life, only to find herself once again in a strange house surrounded by strangers. From a youth detention centre, Phoenix gives birth to a baby she'll never get to raise and tries to forgive herself for all the harm she's caused (while wondering if she even should). Elsie, struggling with addiction and determined to turn her life around, is buoyed by the idea of being reunited with her daughters and strives to be someone they can depend on, unlike her own distant mother. These are the Strangers, each haunted in her own way. Between flickering moments of warmth and support, the women diverge and reconnect, fighting to survive in a fractured system that pretends to offer success but expects them to fail. Facing the distinct blade of racism from those they trusted most, they urge one another to move through the darkness, all the while wondering if they'll ever emerge safely on the other side. 

A breathtaking companion to her bestselling debut The Break, Vermette's The Strangers brings readers into the dynamic world of the Stranger family, the strength of their bond, the shared pain in their past, and the light that beckons from the horizon. This is a searing exploration of race, class, inherited trauma, and matrilineal bonds that--despite everything--refuse to be broken.

Moon of the Crusted Snow

- by Waubgeshig Rice

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National Bestseller Winner of the 2019 OLA Forest of Reading Evergreen Award Shortlisted for the 2019 John W. Campbell Memorial Award Shortlisted for the 2019/20 First Nation Communities READ Indigenous Literature Award 2020 Burlington Library Selection; 2020 Hamilton Reads One Book One Community Selection; 2020 Region of Waterloo One Book One Community Selection; 2019 Ontario Library Association Ontario Together We Read Program Selection; 2019 Women's National Book Association's Great Group Reads; 2019 Amnesty International Book Club Pick January 2020 Reddit r/bookclub pick of the month "This slow-burning thriller is also a powerful story of survival and will leave readers breathless." -- Publishers Weekly "Rice seamlessly injects Anishinaabe language into the dialogue and creates a beautiful rendering of the natural world ... This title will appeal to fans of literary science-fiction akin to Cormac McCarthy as well as to readers looking for a fresh voice in indigenous fiction." -- Booklist A daring post-apocalyptic novel from a powerful rising literary voice With winter looming, a small northern Anishinaabe community goes dark. Cut off, people become passive and confused. Panic builds as the food supply dwindles. While the band council and a pocket of community members struggle to maintain order, an unexpected visitor arrives, escaping the crumbling society to the south. Soon after, others follow. The community leadership loses its grip on power as the visitors manipulate the tired and hungry to take control of the reserve. Tensions rise and, as the months pass, so does the death toll due to sickness and despair. Frustrated by the building chaos, a group of young friends and their families turn to the land and Anishinaabe tradition in hopes of helping their community thrive again. Guided through the chaos by an unlikely leader named Evan Whitesky, they endeavor to restore order while grappling with a grave decision. Blending action and allegory, Moon of the Crusted Snow upends our expectations. Out of catastrophe comes resilience. And as one society collapses, another is reborn.

Fight Night

- by Miriam Toews

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NATIONAL BESTSELLER

SHORTLISTED FOR THE 2021 SCOTIABANK GILLER PRIZE
FINALIST FOR THE 2021 ATWOOD GIBSON WRITERS' TRUST FICTION PRIZE


Named a Best Book of the Year by The Globe and Mail ? CBC ? USA Today ? NPR

A New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice
An Amazon Editors' Pick
An Indie Next Pick
An Apple Book of the Month
One of Indigo's "Top 10 Best Canadian Fiction Books of 2021"

The beloved author of bestsellers Women Talking, All My Puny Sorrows, and A Complicated Kindness returns with a funny, smart, headlong rush of a novel full of wit, flawless writing, and a tribute to perseverance and love in an unusual family.

 
Fight Night is told in the unforgettable voice of Swiv, a nine-year-old living in Toronto with her pregnant mother, who is raising Swiv while caring for her own elderly, frail, yet extraordinarily lively mother. When Swiv is expelled from school, Grandma takes on the role of teacher and gives her the task of writing to Swiv's absent father about life in the household during the last trimester of the pregnancy. In turn, Swiv gives Grandma an assignment: to write a letter to "Gord," her unborn grandchild (and Swiv's soon-to-be brother or sister). "You're a small thing," Grandma writes to Gord, "and you must learn to fight."

As Swiv records her thoughts and observations, Fight Night unspools the pain, love, laughter, and above all, will to live a good life across three generations of women in a close-knit family. But it is Swiv's exasperating, wise and irrepressible Grandma who is at the heart of this novel: someone who knows intimately what it costs to survive in this world, yet has found a way--painfully, joyously, ferociously--to love and fight to the end, on her own terms.

The Paris Apartment

- by Kelly Bowen

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This heart-wrenching novel about family and war unearths generations of secrets and sacrifices--perfect for fans of The Paris Orphan and The Lost Girls of Paris.

2017, London: When Aurelia Leclaire inherits an opulent Paris apartment, she is shocked to discover her grandmother's hidden secrets--including a treasure trove of famous art and couture gowns. One obscure painting leads her to Gabriel Seymour, a highly respected art restorer with his own mysterious past. Together they attempt to uncover the truths concealed within the apartment's walls.
 
Paris, 1942: The Germans may occupy the City of Lights, but glamorous Estelle Allard flourishes in a world separate from the hardships of war. Yet when the Nazis come for her friends, Estelle doesn't hesitate to help those she holds dear, no matter the cost. As she works against the forces intent on destroying her loved ones, she can't know that her actions will have ramifications for generations to come.

Set seventy-five years apart, against a perilous and a prosperous Paris, both Estelle and Lia must summon hidden courage as they navigate the dangers of a changing world, altering history--and their family's futures--forever.

Paul is Dead

- by C. C. Benison

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Under the sway of a charismatic stranger, five friends at an isolated lakeside cottage find their idyll unravelling, leaving two of them -- Lydia Eadon and Dorian Grant -- trapped in an explosion of violence that shatters their young lives and propels them past the borders of conventional morality. Forty years later when a body is unearthed from the scene of their revels, Lydia -- a book editor in San Francisco -- and Dorian -- a vagabond actor -- are plunged into a terrible reckoning with the past. Like Donna Tartt's The Secret History, this is a chronicle of duplicity and collusion, of innocence corrupted, and of the terrible power of guilt.

Once Removed

- by Andrew Unger

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Timothy Heppner is a frustrated ghostwriter struggling to make ends meet in Edenfeld, a small Mennonite community bulldozing its way towards modernity--if it's old, it has to go!

A member of the Preservation Society but desperate to keep his job with the mayor's Parks and "Wreck" department, Timothy finds himself in an awkward position when he is hired to write an updated version of the town's history book. Fuelled by warring loyalties, the threat of personal bankruptcy, and a good deal of fried bologna, Timothy must find his own voice to tell the one story that could make--or break--him.

Honest and laugh-out-loud funny, Once Removed explores the real costs of "progress" in this new Canadian classic.

Treed

- by Ariel Gordon

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With intimacy and humour award-winning poet Ariel Gordon walks us through the streets of Winnipeg and into the urban forest that is, to her, the city's heart. Along the way she shares with us the lives of these urban trees, from the grackles and cankerworms of the spring, to the flush of mushrooms on stumps in the summer and through to the red-stemmed dogwood of the winter. After grounding us in native elms and ashes, Gordon travels to BC's northern Rockies, to Banff National Park and a cattle farm in rural Manitoba, and helps us to consider what we expect of nature. Whether it is the effects of climate change on the urban forest or foraging in the city, Dutch elm disease in the trees or squirrels in the living room, Gordon delves into our relationships with the natural world with heart and style. In the end, the essays circle back to the forest, where the weather is always better and where the reader can see how to remake even the trees that are lost.

We Are All Perfectly Fine

- by Jillian Horton

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When we need help, we count on doctors to put us back together. But what happens when doctors fall apart? Funny, fresh, and deeply affecting, We Are All Perfectly Fine is the story of a married mother of three on the brink of personal and professional collapse who attends rehab with a twist: a meditation retreat for burned-out doctors.
Jillian Horton, a general internist, has no idea what to expect during her five-day retreat at Chapin Mill, a Zen centre in upstate New York. She just knows she desperately needs a break. At first she is deeply uncomfortable with the spartan accommodations, silent meals and scheduled bonding sessions. But as the group struggles through awkward first encounters and guided meditations, something remarkable happens: world-class surgeons, psychiatrists, pediatricians and general practitioners open up and share stories about their secret guilt and grief, as well as their deep-seated fear of falling short of the expectations that define them. Jillian realizes that her struggle with burnout is not so much personal as it is the result of a larger system failure, and that compartmentalizing your most difficult emotions--a coping strategy that is drilled into doctors--is not useful unless you face these emotions too. Jillian Horton throws open a window onto the flawed system that shapes medical professionals, revealing the rarely acknowledged stresses that lead doctors to depression and suicide, and emphasizing the crucial role of compassion not only in treating others, but also in taking care of ourselves.  

Songs for the End of the World

- by Saleema Nawaz

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"In these dark days, Saleema Nawaz dares to write of hope. Songs for the End of the World is a loving, vivid, tenderly felt novel about men, women, and a possible apocalypse. I couldn't put it down." -Sean Michaels, author of Us Conductors and The Wagers

NATIONAL BESTSELLER. An immersive, deeply engaging, and hopeful novel about the power of human connection in a time of crisis, as the bonds of love, family, and duty are tested by an impending catastrophe. Named a Book of the Year by the Globe and Mail, Quill & Quire, 49th Shelf, and a Book You Should Read by Maclean's and Chatelaine.


How quickly he'd forgotten a fundamental truth: the closer you got to the heart of a calamity, the more resilience there was to be found.
     This is the story of a handful of people living through an unfolding catastrophe.
     Elliot is a first responder in New York, a man running from past failures and struggling to do the right thing. Emma is a pregnant singer preparing to headline a benefit concert for victims of a growing outbreak--all while questioning what kind of world her child is coming into. Owen is the author of a bestselling novel with eerie similarities to the real-life crisis, and as fact and fiction begin to blur, he must decide whether his lifelong instinct for self-preservation has been worth the cost.
     As we discover these characters' ties to one another--and to the mystery of the so-called ARAMIS Girl--what emerges is an extraordinary web of connection and community that reveals none of us is ever truly alone. 
     Brilliantly told by an unforgettable chorus of voices, Saleema Nawaz's glittering novel is a moving and hopeful meditation on what we owe to ourselves and to each other. It reminds us that disaster can bring out the best in people--and that coming together may be what saves us in the end.

Five Wives

- by Joan Thomas

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WINNER OF THE GOVERNOR GENERAL'S LITERARY AWARD FOR FICTION


GLOBE AND MAIL, CBC BOOKS, APPLE BOOKS, AND NOW TORONTO BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR


In the tradition of The Poisonwood Bible and State of Wonder, a novel set in the rainforest of Ecuador about five women left behind when their missionary husbands are killed. Based on the shocking real-life events


In 1956, a small group of evangelical Christian missionaries and their families journeyed to the rainforest in Ecuador intending to convert the Waorani, a people who had never had contact with the outside world. The plan was known as Operation Auca. After spending days dropping gifts from an aircraft, the five men in the party rashly entered the "intangible zone." They were all killed, leaving their wives and children to fend for themselves.

Five Wives is the fictionalized account of the real-life women who were left behind, and their struggles - with grief, with doubt, and with each other - as they continued to pursue their evangelical mission in the face of the explosion of fame that followed their husbands' deaths.

Five Wives is a riveting, often wrenching story of evangelism and its legacy, teeming with atmosphere and compelling characters and rich in emotional impact. 

This Has Nothing to Do With You

- by Lauren Carter

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Winner of the 2020 Margaret Laurence Award for Fiction and the 2020 John Hirsch Award for Most Promising Manitoba Writer

When Melony Barnett's mother commits a violent murder, Mel is left struggling with the loss of her parents and her future. For more than two years, she drifts around the continent, trying to carve out a life that has nothing to do with her past, before returning to her Northern Ontario home and adopting a rescue dog--a mastiff with a tragic history. As she struggles to help the dog heal and repair her relationship with her brother, Matt, she begins to uncover layers of secrets about her family --secrets that were the fuel for her mother's actions. This Has Nothing to Do With You is a compulsively readable novel that follows a dynamic cast of characters, revealing the complexity of the bonds that are formed through trauma and grief--with siblings, lovers, friends, and dogs.

Here the Dark

- by David Bergen

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SHORTLISTED FOR THE 2020 SCOTIABANK GILLER PRIZE o A NEW YORK TIMES NEW & NOTEWORTHY BOOK o A GLOBE AND MAIL TOP 100 BOOK FOR 2020 o A CBC BEST FICTION BOOK FOR 2020 o "His third appearance on the Giller shortlist ... affirms Bergen among Canada's most powerful writers. His pages light up; all around falls into darkness."--2020 Scotiabank Giller Prize Jury o "David Bergen's command is breathtaking ... His work belongs to the world, and to all time. He is one of our living greats."--Matthew Thomas, New York Times-bestselling author of We Are Not Ourselves From the streets of Danang, Vietnam, where a boy falls in with a young American missionary, to fishermen lost off the islands of Honduras, to the Canadian prairies, where a teenage boy's infatuation reveals his naiveté and an aging rancher finds himself smitten, the short stories in Here the Dark explore the spaces between doubt and belief, evil and good, obscurity and light. Following men and boys bewildered by their circumstances and swayed by desire, surprised by love and by their capacity for both tenderness and violence, and featuring a novella about a young woman who rejects the laws of her cloistered Mennonite community, Scotiabank Giller Prize-winner David Bergen's latest deftly renders complex moral ambiguities and asks what it means to be lost--and how we might be found.