Banff Book Discussion Weekend 2023

2021 Books

These are the books which have been selected for consideration for the 2021 BBDW.  You will receive an email later in the month in which you will be able to vote  (via Survey Monkey) for 2 of the 4 fiction titles and 1 of the 2 nonfiction titles.  We will announce the visiting author and the books selected on May 23 after our last Zoom discussion.

Fiction Titles: Choose 2 of 4

1) The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Leferti

Published: 2019

Pages: 378

Drawing on experience as a psychotherapist and a child of refugees, The

Beekeeper of Aleppo is the second novel by Christy Leferti, a response to first-

hand experience helping refugees who have fled the Syrian war. It tells the story

of Nuri and Afra, a beekeeper and an artist, on a perilous journey from Syria,

through Turkey and Greece, to an uncertain future in Britain. Together, they

must deal with the loss of all that they knew, sustaining hope and gaining new

insights into each other.

Potential Discussion Points:

  •    How do people cope with significant trauma and loss?
  •    How is hope sustained in the face of heartbreak?
  •    What is the experience of refugees really like?
  •    How does this book inform our understanding of us of the current crisis in
  •    Syria and issues for displaced people?
  •    What do bees and beekeeping represent to us?
  •    How might blindness affect our memory and our understanding?

2) The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline

Published: 2017

Pages: 231

The best-known book of Metis writer, Cherie Dimaline, The Marrow Thieves won a 2017

Governor General’s award and was a finalist for Canada Reads 2018. Set in a dystopian

future Ontario, in a world ravaged by global warming, where people have lost the ability

to dream, the story turns on the need to cure madness by recapturing the ability to dream

from the only ones still able to do so – North American Indigenous people. The novel

follows a small band of Indigenous children, teens and elders on the run from authorities

who seek to kill them, taking their marrow as a means to recovering dreams.

Potential Discussion Points:

  •    How important is dreaming to health?
  •    What do you make of this band of characters? How is each necessary to the


  •    How and why do we create family?
  •    How does this story parallel the past treatment of Indigenous people in Canada?
  •    How might the effects of global warming change our cultural landscape?
  •    How do we sustain resilience in the face of abuse and loss of culture?
  •    Is this book different because it is ‘young adult’?

3) Warlight by Michael Ondaatje

Published: 2018

Pages: 304

Warlight is the latest novel of Booker Prize winner Michael Ondaatje, author of

the internationally acclaimed The English Patient. Set in London in the

aftermath of WWII, this book relates the story of two teenagers, apparently

abandoned by their parents and left in the care of an enigmatic, criminal figure.

The story is told through the lens of memory as Nathaniel seeks to understand

this crucial period of his life.

Potential Discussion points:

  •    How do individuals adapt to the societal disruption of war?
  •    Can we trust our memories?
  •    What are the effects of childhood abandonment?
  •    What is the significance of sibling attachment in coping with difficult circumstance?
  •     Is it helpful to dissect a life through official documentation?
  •    Is Ondaatje’s writing style ‘poetic, exquisite and moving’ or ‘meandering

and lustreless’?

4) Women Talking by Miriam Toews

Published: 2019

Pages: 214

Women Talking, Miriam Toews’ eighth novel, was a finalist for the 2018

Governor General’s Award for English-language fiction. Based on a true story, it

details horrific events in a conservative Mennonite community in Bolivia: over a

period of 5 years, over a hundred women and girls were repeatedly drugged and

raped by men from their own community. The novel is an imagined response to

these crimes, giving voice to the victims as they gather to talk about their lives

and consider their options going forward.

Potential Discussion Points:

  •    How has ongoing patriarchy shaped the experience of both women and


  •    Why is talking about shared trauma important?
  •    How does level of education and literacy affect one’s power in the world?
  •    What is the place of forgiveness when one has been wronged?
  •    What is the significance of finding one’s voice?
  •     How would this story have been different if written as a nonfiction


Nonfiction Titles: Choose 1 of 2

1) Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

Published: 2016

Pages: 282

In Born a Crime, Trevor Noah, the charming, funny host of The Daily Show opens a

window into the last days of South African apartheid and its aftermath. The eighteen

personal essays paint an engaging picture of the remarkable relationship between a

mischievous boy and his powerhouse of a mother. Though dealing with issues of

poverty, disenfranchisement and fear, the book is not heavy-handed – it’s fun, insightful

and compelling.

Potential Discussion Points:

  •    How did apartheid affect the lives of non-whites in South Africa?
  •    What is it like to be mixed-race and fit in neither group?
  •    What builds resilience to difficult childhood experience like poverty and racism?
  •    How does strong religious faith help or hinder parent-child relationships?
  •    What is the importance of strong mothers in supporting a culture?
  •    How does the use of humour affect the message of the book?

2) Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain

Published: 2012

Pages: 266

In Quiet, Susan Cain presents a passionate case for valuing introversion, despite our

current cultural bias toward extroversion. Citing research, presenting case studies and

relating personal anecdotes, she charts the rise of the Extrovert Ideal in America through

the 20 th Century. Introverts will recognize themselves in these pages and extroverts will

gain valuable understanding about how others approach the world.

Potential Discussion Points:

  •    How do introversion and extroversion affect power differentials in the workplace?
  •    Does valuing individualism necessarily support valuing extroversion?
  •    Is present-day ‘celebrity culture’ an outgrowth of the ‘extrovert ideal’?
  •    Does the author overreach in conflating other positive personality traits with


  •     How do introverts approach life differently than extroverts?
  •    What are the contributions we miss out because we don’t make space for introverts?