The Four Discussion Books – 2019

Here are the four books selected for 2019.  They all look like wonderful reads and will lead to interesting discussions.  Looking forward to the 58th Banff Book Discussion, particularly with Katerena Vermette as the guest author.       Facilitating a Discussion Group We make facilitating easy! We even give…

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The Break

When Stella, a young Métis mother, 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…

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The Brain’s Way of Healing: Remarkable …

The Brain’s Way of Healing: Remarkable Discoveries and Recoveries from the Frontiers of Neuroplasticity

In his first book, The Brain That Changes Itself, Norman Doidge introduced readers to the most important change in our understanding of the brain since the beginning of modern science: the discovery that the brain can change its own structure and function in response to mental experience—the phenomenon of neuroplasticity. Now, his revolutionary new book, The Brain’s Way of Healing, shows, for the first time, how the amazing process of neuroplastic healing really works.

For centuries it was believed that the price we paid for our brain’s complexity was that, compared with other organs, it was fixed and unregenerative—unable to recover mental abilities lost because of damage or disease. The Brain’s Way of Healing turns that belief on its head, as Doidge lucidly explains how the brain’s capacities are highly dynamic, and how its very sophistication makes possible a unique and gentle kind of healing. He describes natural, noninvasive avenues into the brain provided by the forms of energy around us—light, sound, vibration, movement—that can pass through our senses and our bodies to awaken the plastic brain’s own transformative capacities without surgery or medication and their unpleasant side effects or risks.

Using this more nuanced understanding of how our brains work, scientists and practitioners have learned how to use neuroplastic therapies to address many common conditions and to offer hope where prospects for healing were long denied. We see patients in whom years of chronic pain have been alleviated, and others who have recovered the ability not just to walk or talk but to live fully despite debilitating strokes, as well as cases of long-standing brain injuries cured or vastly improved. We meet children on the autistic spectrum or with learning disorders or attention deficit disorder who have used neuroplastic techniques to achieve normal lives, and  sufferers who have seen symptoms of multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and cerebral palsy radically diminished. And we learn how to vastly reduce the risk of dementia, or improve the  brain’s performance and health, with simple approaches anyone can use.

Neuroplastic healing is truly one of the life-changing breakthroughs of modern science—“mind-bending, miracle-making, reality-busting stuff,” in the words of The New York Times, describing Doidge’s first book. Here, he uses both astonishing, moving human stories and reports from the frontiers of an exciting field in brain science, putting it all together to help us recognize how mind, brain, and body, as well as the energies around us, are all essential elements that combine in health and healing. This is a book with the potential to transform, to heal, and to offer hope.

Underground Airlines

A young black man calling himself Victor has struck a bargain with federal law enforcement, working as a bounty hunter for the US Marshall Service in exchange for his freedom. He’s got plenty of work. In this version of America, slavery continues in four states called “the Hard Four.” On…

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War and Turpentine

Stefan Hertmans’ latest novel, War and Turpentine,  published August 2013, is a huge success wordlwide. It is based on some notebooks of his grandfather, containing memoirs of the First World War, written down when he was a man of over seventy. They also contain a breathtaking account of a youth in Ghent in the industrial era before 1900, and show a boy growing up in poverty, with a father who was a fresco painter, and an awe-inspiring mother who had a deep influence on his outlook on life. He works in the iron foundry from his 13th on, enrolls in the Military Academy in 1908, and is sent to war in August 1914. What follows is a minute account of these terrible years, seen through the eyes of a Flemish, catholic, sensitive young man. He gets wounded five times, recovers in Liverpool (where he discovers a secret about his father, who died young from pneumonia), and gets back to the trenches time and again.

After the war he meets his great passion, a proud young woman, who dies of the Spanish Flu in 1919. It is the moment of total catastrophe to him. He is asked to marry her frigid, eldest sister. Again he obeys and does what appears to be his duty.

From then on, he leads the life of a silent painter, copying the great painters such as Titian, Rubens, Rembrandt, Van Dyck and Velazquez.

His grandson, Stefan Hertmans, not only tells the story of this amazing life in a fantastic style and rhythm, but also discovers some amorous secrets hidden in paintings which at first sight seemed to be mere copies.

War and Turpentine is a unique acocunt of a disappeared but rich history of Flanders, a novel about a hidden passion, but also a novel about what war could do with the soul of a humble, fascinating man.

General Book Discussion Questions

General Book Discussion Questions   What did you get out of the book and/or what did it mean to you? Do you have any favorite passages or quotes?   Why do you think the author wrote this? What is the most important message?   What major issues and ideas was…

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