Book club sets

Book club sets | ESL book club sets | Frequently asked questions

Book club sets

BPL book club sets consist of 10 copies of a single title available for an extended loan period of six weeks. Each set comes with short review(s), an author biography and a list of questions to get your group started on discussion. The books and accompanying material are packaged in a canvas carrying bag.

Book club sets will be signed out to a single BPL library card holder who will be responsible for ensuring that:

  • the set is returned on time
  • all items are returned with the set
  • all items in the set are returned in good condition

You may borrow a maximum of two sets at a time and renewals are not permitted. Book club sets may be reserved online via our library catalogue for pick up at any BPL branch. Sets can be returned to any BPL location. Want to know more? Read our FAQs below.

Download a printer-friendly list of book club sets [PDF].

The accidental, by Ali Smith
Ali Smith
Book Club Set #24

Amber, 30-something, barefoot and a stranger, shows up at the door of the Norfolk cottage that the Smarts are renting for the summer.  As Amber insinuates herself into the family, the question of who she is fades away. Instead, dazzled by her seeming exoticism, the Smarts begin to examine their own lives through the searing lens of Amber’s perceptions.

All my puny sorrows, by Miriam Toews
Miriam Toews
Book Club Set #65

Elfrieda, a world-renowned pianist, is glamorous, happily married and wants to die. Yolandi, her younger sister is divorced, broke, and desperately wants to keep her older sister alive. As the situation becomes ever more complicated, Yoli faces the most terrifying decision of her life.

American dervish, by Ayad Akhtar
Ayad Akhtar
Book Club Set #44

A young Pakistani boy, whose parents left the fundamentalists behind when they came to America, finds transformation and a path to happiness through a family friend, Mina, who shows him the beauty and power of the Quran.

An atlas of impossible longing, by Anuradha Roy
Anuradha Roy
Book Club Set #21

On the outskirts of a small town in Bengal, a family lives in solitude in their vast new house. Here, lives intertwine and unravel. A widower struggles with his love for an unmarried cousin. Bakul, a motherless daughter, runs wild with Mukunda, an orphan of unknown caste adopted by the family. Confined in a room at the top of the house, a matriarch goes slowly mad; her husband searches for its cause as he shapes and reshapes his garden. As Mukunda and Bakul grow, their intense closeness matures into something else, and Mukunda is banished to Calcutta. He prospers in the turbulent years after Partition, but his thoughts stay with his home, with Bakul, with all that he has lost — and he knows that he must return.

Atlas of unknowns, by Tania James
Tania James
Book Club Set #30

In this tale of bicontinental love, betrayal and secrets, sisters Anju and Linno Vallara live in Kerala, India, raised by their father after their mother's apparent suicide. Crippled Linno establishes herself as a talented artist, a skill Anju ruthlessly claims as her own, passing off Linno's paintings as hers to win a scholarship to study art in New York. When Anju's dishonesty is eventually exposed, her future crumbles and she runs away, surviving only due to her friendship with Bird, a stranger who carries a key to their mother's mysterious past. Meanwhile, Linno, who once resigned herself to being her family's servant, has built a career and, despite her sister's betrayal, resolves to find Anju and bring her home. As that reunion looms, layers of lies and secrets are exposed until the reader, if not the sisters, glimpses the tangle of honesty and loyalties underpinning the story.

The Beauty of Humanity Movement, by Camilla Gibb
Camilla Gibb
Book Club Set #31

Set in contemporary Vietnam, this is the story of a country undergoing momentous change and the story of how family is defined – not always by bloodlines but by the heart. Tu' is a young tour guide working in Hanoi for a company called New Dawn. While he leads tourists through the city, including American vets on "war tours," he starts to wonder what it is they are seeing of Vietnam – and what they miss entirely. Maggie, who is Vietnamese by birth but has lived most her life in the U.S., has returned to her country of origin in search of clues to her dissident father's disappearance during the war. Holding the story together is Old Man Hung, who has lived through decades of political upheaval and has still found a way to feed hope to his community of pondside dwellers.

Behind the beautiful forevers, by Katherine Boo
Katherine Boo
Book Club Set #55 Non-fiction

Annawadi is a settlement in the shadow of luxury hotels near the Mumbai airport, and as India starts to prosper, its people are filled with hope. Abdul, a reflective and enterprising Muslim teenager, sees 'a fortune beyond counting' in the recyclable garbage that richer people throw away. But when Abdul is falsely accused in a shocking tragedy, and terror and a global recession rock the city, suppressed tensions over religion, caste, sex, power, and economic envy turn brutal.

Black swan green, by David Mitchell
David Mitchell
Book Club Set #22

January, I982. Thirteen-year-old Jason Taylor – covert stammerer and reluctant poet – anticipates a stultifying year in his backwater English village. But he hasn’t reckoned with bullies, simmering family discord, the Falklands War, a threatened gypsy invasion and those mysterious entities known as girls. Charting thirteen months in the black hole between childhood and adolescence, this is a captivating novel, wry, painful and vibrant with the stuff of life.

Burgess boys, by Elizabeth Strout
Elizabeth Strout
Book Club Set #57

Catalyzed by a nephew's thoughtless prank, a pair of brothers confronts painful psychological issues surrounding the freak accident that killed their father when they were boys – a loss linked to a heartbreaking deception that shaped their personal and professional lives.

Burial rites, by Hannah Kent
Hannah Kent
Book Club Set #56

Inspired by a true story and set against the stark landscape of nineteenth century Iceland, this book tells of the final days of Agnes Magnúsdóttir, a young woman accused of murdering her employer. She is sent to an isolated farmhouse to await her execution and there she meets a young priest who is given the task of preparing Agnes for her death.

Come thou tortoise, by Jessica Grant
Jessica Grant
Book Club Set #17

This is a debut novel of astonishing wisdom and subtle humour from an award-winning young writer. It is a delightfully off-beat story that features an opinionated tortoise, Winnifred, and an IQ-challenged narrator who find themselves in the middle of a life-changing mystery.

Constellation of vital phenomena, by Anthony Marra
Anthony Marra
Book Club Set #45

Eight-year-old Havaa, Akhmed, the neighbour who rescues her after her father's disappearance in war torn Chechnya, and Sonia, the doctor who shelters her over 5 dramatic days in December 2004, must all reach back into their pasts to unravel the intricate mystery of coincidence, betrayal and forgiveness which unexpectedly binds them and decides their fate.

Cool water, by Dianne Warren
Dianne Warren
Book Club Set #26

Juliet, Saskatchewan sits at the edge of the Little Snake sand hills. The heart of the town beats in the rich and overlapping stories of its people, and their stories bring the prairie desert and the town to vivid and enduring life. This wonderfully entertaining, witty and deeply felt novel brims with forgiveness as its flawed people stumble towards the future.

Dead wake: the last crossing of the Lusitania, by Erik Larson
Erik Larson
Book Club Set #66 Non-fiction

The sinking of the luxury ocean liner Lusitania by a German U-boat in WWI has long been considered the atrocity that sparked America's entry into the war. This 100th anniversary chronicle discusses the factors that led to the tragedy including the contributions of survivors, bookseller Charles Lauriat and architect Theodate Pope Riddle.

The dinner, by Herman Koch
Herman Koch
Book Club Set #46

Meeting at an Amsterdam restaurant for dinner, two couples move from small talk to the wrenching shared challenge of their teenage sons' act of violence that has triggered a police investigation and revealed the extent to which each family will go to protect those they love.

Dubious salvation of Jack V, by Jacques Strauss
Jacques Strauss
Book Club Set #47

It's 1989, and in the dying years of the Apartheid regime, eleven-year-old Jack Viljee, the son of an Afrikaans father and an English mother allies himself with the family's beloved maid, Susie. But the comfortable domesticity of the Viljee household has been upset by the arrival of Percy, Susie's fifteen-year old son. Percy – young, bored and full of rage – makes everything awkward and embarrassing for Jack. After one particularly humiliating event, Jack betrays Susie and learns that even the most childish act can avalanche beyond his most outlandish imaginings.

Elegance of the hedgehog, by Muriel Barbery
Muriel Barbery
Book Club Set #8

'Only' the concierge of a wealthy Parisian apartment building, Renee is passionate about culture and the arts. Several floors up, Paloma is determined to avoid the predictably bourgeois future laid out for her and plans to commit suicide on her thirteenth birthday. This funny, moving and wise novel was an international publishing sensation.

Everybody has everything, by Katrina Onstad
Katrina Onstad
Book Club Set #32

What happens when the tidy, prosperous life of an urban couple is turned inside out by a tragedy with unexpected consequences? After a car crash leaves their friend Marcus dead and his wife Sarah in a coma, Ana and James are shocked to discover that they have become the legal guardians of a 2½-year-old, Finn. Finn's crash-landing in their lives throws into high relief deeply rooted, and sometimes long-hidden, truths about themselves, both individually and as a couple. Several chaotic, poignant, and life-changing weeks as a most unusual family give rise to an often unasked question: Can everyone be a parent?

Family Fang, by Kevin Wilson
Kevin Wilson
Book Club Set #40

For as long as they can remember, Buster and Annie Fang have starred (unwillingly) in their parents' madcap performance art pieces. But now that they are grown up, the chaos of their childhood has made it difficult to cope with life outside the fishbowl of their parents' strange world. When the lives they've built come crashing down, brother and sister have nowhere to go but home, where they discover that their parents are planning one last performance.

February, by Lisa Moore
Lisa Moore
Book Club Set #48

Helen O'Mara's life is divided between her everyday existence as mother and grandmother and her internal memories and reflections on her life with her late husband Cal who died long ago aboard the oil rig Ocean Ranger. Then Helen's wayward son John returns home asking his mother to help him decide how to deal with his girlfriend's pregnancy.

Galore, by Michael Crummey
Michael Crummey
Book Club Set #33

A family saga and love story set in the improbable medievalesque world that was rural Newfoundland. Remote and isolated, exposed to extremes of climate and fate, the people of Paradise Deep persist in a realm where the line between the everyday and the otherworldly is hard to distinguish.

Golden mean, by Annabel Lyon
Annabel Lyon
Book Club Set #14

Aristotle must postpone his dream of succeeding Plato at the Academy in Athens when he is forced to tutor Alexander, a prince of Macedon. Aristotle's resentment at his situation is soon overcome by the boy's intellectual potential and his capacity for surprise.

Good to a fault, by Marina Endicott
Marina Endicott
Book Club Set #12

Absorbed in her own failings, Clara Purdy crashes her life into a sharp left turn, taking the young family in the other car along with her. When bruises on the mother, Lorraine, prove to be late-stage cancer, Clara - against all habit and comfort - moves the three children and their terrible grandmother into her own house. We know what is good, but we don't do it. In Good to a Fault, Clara decides to give it a try, and then has to cope with the consequences: exhaustion, fury, hilarity, and unexpected love. But she must question her own motives. Is she acting out of true goodness, or out of guilt? Most shamefully, has she taken over simply because she wants the baby for her own? What do we owe in this life, and what do we deserve?

H is for hawk, by Helen Macdonald
Helen Macdonald
Book Club Set #67 Non-fiction

In this original blend of memoir, biography and nature writing, Cambridge professor and falconer Helen Macdonald adopts and trains a goshawk called Mabel, a notoriously difficult bird, as a way to cope with the grief of her father's death.

Hare with amber eyes, by Edmund De Waal
Edmund De Waal
Book Club Set #42 Non-fiction

A memoir in which brilliant ceramicist Edmund De Waal travels the world to stand in the great buildings his forebears once inhabited. It traces the lines of a remarkable family against the backdrop of a tumultuous century.

How it all began, by Penelope Lively
Penelope Lively
Book Club Set #34

Through a richly conceived and colorful cast of characters, Penelope Lively explores the powerful role of chance in people's lives and deftly illustrates how our paths can be altered irrevocably by someone we will never even meet. When Charlotte Rainsford, a retired schoolteacher, is accosted by a petty thief on a London street, the consequences ripple across the lives of acquaintances and strangers alike. A marriage unravels after an illicit love affair is revealed through an errant cell phone message; a posh yet financially strapped interior designer meets a business partner who might prove too good to be true; an old-guard historian tries to recapture his youthful vigor with an ill-conceived idea for a TV miniseries; and a middle-aged central European immigrant learns to speak English and reinvents his life with the assistance of some new friends.

How to get filthy rich in rising Asia, by Mohsin Hamid
Mohsin Hamid
Book Club Set #58

The tale of a man's journey from impoverished rural boy to corporate tycoon, borrows from the business self-help books devoured by youths all over 'rising Asia.' It follows its nameless hero to the metropolis where he begins to amass an empire built on that most scarce of goods: water. Yet his heart is set on the pretty girl whose star rises along with his, their paths re-crossing, in a lifelong affair sparked by the forces that careen their fates along.

Hunting and gathering, by Anna Gavalda
Anna Gavalda
Book Club Set #35

Gavalda explores the twists of fate that connect four people in Paris. Comprised of a starving artist, her shy, aristocratic neighbor, his obnoxious but talented roommate, and a neglected grandmother, this curious, damaged quartet may be hopeless apart, but together, they may just be able to face the world.

 

I saw a man, by Owen Sheers
Owen Sheers
Book Club Set #68

Relocating to London when his journalist wife is killed during an assignment in Pakistan, a bereaved Michael bonds with new neighbours, until a terrible accident and a shattering secret complicate his healing. When Josh learns the truth about what happened on that fateful day, Michael knows he must leave London. He moves to New York, where he leads the empty existence of a haunted man. What path to redemption will Michael choose? The answer is eloquent, resonant, and completely unforgettable.

The immortal life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot
Rebecca Skloot
Book Club Set #59 Non-fiction

Documents the story of how scientists took cells from an unsuspecting descendant of freed slaves and created a human cell line that has been kept alive indefinitely, enabling discoveries in such areas as cancer research, in vitro fertilization, and gene mapping. A riveting story of the collision between ethics, race, and medicine.

In the dark, by Deborah Moggach
Deborah Moggach
Book Club Set #5

Eithne Clay runs a dreary boarding house in London at the end of the First World War. Into her life comes Neville Turk, a lusty butcher with an eye for both the recently widowed Eithne and her real estate. In scenes that are both erotic and hysterically funny, Neville woos the deprived Eithne with fine cuts of lamb and beef and so repulses her adolescent son that he becomes a vegetarian.

This warm-hearted and entertaining story reveals that war can provide the opportunity for the venal to prosper, but success is not always assured.

The Inconvenient Indian, by Thomas King
Thomas King
Book Club Set #60 Non-fiction

At once both a history and the complete subversion of a history – in short, a critical and personal meditation that the remarkable Thomas King has conducted over the past 50 years about what it means to be Indian in North America. Rich with dark and light, pain and magic, this book distills the insights gleaned from that meditation, weaving the curiously circular tale of the relationship between non-Natives and Natives in the centuries since the two first encountered each other.

Kitchens of the great Midwest, by J. Ryan Stradel
J. Ryan Stradel
Book Club Set #69

When Lars Thorvald's wife falls in love with a dashing sommelier, he's left to raise their baby, Eva, on his own. Determined to pass on his love of food to his daughter Eva, she finds her solace and salvation in the flavors of her native Minnesota as she becomes the star chef behind a legendary and secretive pop-up supper club.

Land of decoration, by Grace McCleen
Grace McCleen
Book Club Set #49

Ten-year-old Judith’s world is carefully constructed around her faith. With no TV and no books to entertain her, she spends her time creating the Land of Decoration, a model in miniature of The Promised Land which she has made of collected discarded scraps. One Sunday night, terrified of the bullying at school that awaits her on the Monday, Judith conjures a snowstorm in the Land of Decoration and the next morning the ground outside her window is a crisp, dazzling white. Judith can perform miracles.

Let the great world spin, by Colum McCann
Colum McCann
Book Club Set #23

It is August, 1974, and a tightrope walker is running, dancing, leaping between the towers, suspended a quarter-mile in the sky. In the streets below, ordinary lives become extraordinary as award-winning novelist Colum McCann crafts this stunningly realized portrait of a city and its people.Corrigan, a radical young Irish monk, struggles with his own demons as he lives among prostitutes in the Bronx. A group of mothers, gathered in a Park Avenue apartment to mourn the sons who died in Vietnam, discovers how much divides them even in their grief. Further uptown, Tillie, a thirty-eight-year-old grandmother, turns tricks alongside her teenaged daughter, determined not only to take care of her “babies” but to prove her own worth. Elegantly weaving together these and other seemingly disparate lives, McCann’s powerful novel comes alive in the unforgettable voices of the city’s people, unexpectedly drawn together by hope, beauty, and the tightrope walker’s “artistic crime of the century.”

Lieutenant, by Kate Grenville
Kate Grenville
Book Club Set #2

In 1787 Lieutenant Thomas Rooke officer and astronomer sets sail from Portsmouth with the First Fleet and its cargo of convicts destined for New South Wales. As the newcomers struggle to establish a settlement, Rooke comes to know the aboriginal people and forges a remarkable connection with one child which will change his life in ways he never imagined.

Life after life, by Kate Atkinson
Kate Atkinson
Book Club Set #70

Ursula Todd is born on a cold snowy night in 1910 – twice. As she grows up during the first half of the twentieth century in Britain Ursula dies and is brought back to life again and again. With a seemingly infinite number of lives it appears as though Ursula has the ability to alter the history of the world, should she so choose.

Little Bee, by Chris Cleave
Chris Cleave
Book Club Set #3

A tragic victim of the exploitation of Africans in the hunt for petroleum, Little Bee’s life invades our fine and private world in one hideously violent moment. Her saviour is an Englishwoman, who tries to right the wrongs that pitch Little Bee into the dehumanizing British detention system for immigrants. A heart rending and occasionally funny tale that puts a human face on the global economy.

The long song, by Andrea Levy
Andrea Levy
Book Club Set #28

Told in the irresistibly willful and intimate voice of Miss July, with some editorial assistance from her son, Thomas, The Long Song is at once defiant, funny, and shocking. The child of a field slave on the Amity sugar plantation, July lives with her mother until Mrs. Caroline Mortimer, a recently transplanted English widow, decides to move her into the great house and rename her “Marguerite.” Resourceful and mischievous, July soon becomes indispensable to her mistress. Taught to read and write so that she can help her mistress run the business, July remains bound to the plantation despite her “freedom.” It is the arrival of a young English overseer, Robert Goodwin, that will dramatically change life in the great house for both July and her mistress.

Madonnas of Leningrad, by Debra Dean
Debra Dean
Book Club Set #4

Struggling with Alzheimer's, Marina recalls her work at the Hermitage Museum and the saving of its paintings during the Siege of Leningrad. 'An unforgettable tale of love, survival and the power of imagination'.

Medicine walk, by Richard Waganese
Richard Waganese
Book Club Set #71

Set in the dramatic landscape of the BC Interior, sixteen year-old Franklin Starlight is called to visit his father, Eldon, a man he barely knows. The rare moments they have shared trouble Frank, but he answers the call, to find Eldon dying of liver failure after years of heavy drinking. Eldon asks his son to take him into the mountains, so he may be buried in the traditional Ojibway manner.

Memory of love, by Aminatta Forna
Aminatta Forna
Book Club Set #36

While a gifted young surgeon is haunted by memories of the civil war that has decimated his Sierra Leone home, a patient relates disturbing stories about the post-colonial years and a well-intentioned British psychiatrist draws all of them into the path of an enigmatic woman.

Miss Emily, by Nuala O'Connor
Nuala O'Connor
Book Club Set #72

Despite their differences in age and the upstairs-downstairs divide in the family, Irish maid Ada Concannon strikes up a deep friendship with Miss Emily Dickinson, the gifted elder daughter living a spinster's life at home. But Emily's passion for words begins to dominate her life, and when Ada's safety and reputation are threatened Emily must face down her own demons in order to help her friend, with shocking consequences.

The news where you are, by Catherine O'Flynn
Catherine O'Flynn
Book Club Set #27

This heartbreaking, yet hilarious novel tells the story of Frank, a local TV news presenter in England. Beneath his awkwardly corny screen persona, Frank is haunted by disappearances: the mysterious hit-and-run that killed his predecessor Phil Smethway; the demolition of his father's post-war architecture; and the unmarked passing of those who die alone in the city. Frank struggles to make sense of these absences whilst having to report endless local news stories and trying to cope with his resolutely miserable mother.

Old filth, by Jane Gardam
Jane Gardam
Book Club Set #9

Edward Feathers aka Filth (Failed in London Try Hong Kong), an international lawyer now retired to England, reminisces on his life after the death of his wife. Brilliantly constructed - going backwards and forwards in time, yet constantly working towards the secret at its core - 'Old Filth' is funny and heart-breaking.

Our souls at night, by Kent Haruf
Kent Haruf
Book Club Set #73

A senior-aged widow and widower forge a loving bond over shared loneliness and respective histories, provoking local gossip and the disapproval of their grown children in ways that are further complicated by an extended visit by a sad young grandchild

The outcast, by Sadie Jones
Sadie Jones
Book Club Set #25

In 1950s England the tragic death of his mother leaves ten year old Lewis deeply isolated. Ignored by his grief-stricken father, an act of inarticulate anger gets Lewis two years in prison for arson.  On his return home, the only person who seems to understand him is Kit, the daughter of his father's boss and also an outsider. Mutual distrust between Lewis and the locals grows, but Kit may be able to save Lewis.

 

Painted girls, by Cathy Marie Buchanan
Cathy Marie Buchanan
Book Club Set #50

In belle époque Paris, the Van Goethem sisters struggle for survival after the sudden death of their father. With few options for work, Marie enters the Paris Opéra and is soon modeling in the studio of Edgar Degas, where her image will forever be immortalized as Little Dancer Aged Fourteen. Meanwhile Antoinette, derailed by her love for the dangerous Émile Abadie, must choose between honest labour and the more profitable avenues open to a young woman of the Parisian demimonde.

Paris Wife, by Paula McLain
Paula McLain
Book Club Set #41

Meeting through mutual friends in Chicago, Hadley is intrigued by brash "beautiful boy" Ernest Hemingway, and after a brief courtship and small wedding, they take off for Paris, where Hadley makes a convincing transformation from an overprotected child to a game and brave young woman who puts up with impoverished living conditions and shattering loneliness to prop up her husband's career.

Practical Jean, by Trevor Cole
Trevor Cole
Book Club Set #37

Jean Vale Horemarsh is an ordinary, small-town woman with the usual challenges of middle age. She's content, mostly, with the life she's built: a semi-successful career as a ceramics artist, a close collection of women friends, a comfortable marriage with a kind if otherwise unextraordinary man. And then Jean sees her mother go through the final devastating months of cancer, and realizes that her fondest wish is to protect her dearest friends from the indignities of aging and illness. That's when she decides to kill them...

Rainbow troops, by Andrea Hirata
Andrea Hirata
Book Club Sets #51

The inspiring and closely autobiographical tale of the trials and tribulations that the ten motley students (nicknamed the Rainbow Troops) and two teachers from an elementary school on Belitong Island, Indonesia, undergo to ensure the continuation of the children's education. The poverty-stricken school suffers the constant threat of closure by government officials, greedy corporations, natural disasters and the students' own lack of self-confidence.

Room, by Emma Donoghue
Emma Donoghue
Book Club Set #20

Narrator Jack and his mother, who was kidnapped seven years earlier when she was a 19-year-old college student, celebrate his fifth birthday. They live in a tiny, 11-foot-square soundproofed cell in a converted shed in the kidnapper's yard. The sociopath, whom Jack has dubbed Old Nick, visits at night, grudgingly doling out food and supplies. But Ma, as Jack calls her, proves to be resilient and resourceful--and attempts a nail-biting escape.

Secret daughter, by Shilpi Somaya
Shilpi Somaya Gowda
Book Club Set #15

Interweaves the stories of a baby girl in India, the American doctor who adopted her, and the Indian mother who gave her up in favor of a son, as two families--one in India, the other in the United States--are changed by the child that connects them.

Secret scripture, by Sebastian Barry
Sebastian Barry
Book Club Set #11

Roseanne McNulty, once one of the most beautiful and beguiling girls in County Sligo, Ireland, is now an elderly patient at Roscommon Regional Mental Hospital. As her hundredth year draws near, she decides to record the events of her life, hiding the manuscript beneath the floorboards. Meanwhile, the hospital is preparing to close and is evaluating its patients to determine whether they can return to society. Dr. Grene, Roseanne's caretaker, takes a special interest in her case. In his research, he discovers a document written by a local priest that tells a very different story of Roseanne's life than what she recalls. As doctor and patient attempt to understand each other, they begin to uncover long-buried secrets about themselves.

Shanghai girls, by Lisa See
Lisa See
Book Club Set #13

In 1937, Shanghai is the Paris of Asia, a city of great wealth and glamour, the home of millionaires and beggars, gangsters and gamblers, patriots and revolutionaries, artists and warlords. Thanks to the financial security and material comforts provided by their father’s prosperous rickshaw business, twenty-one-year-old Pearl Chin and her younger sister, May, are having the time of their lives.

The Silent Wife, by A.S.A. Harrison
A.S.A. Harriuson
Book CLub Set #61

Jodi and Todd are at a bad place in their marriage. Much is at stake, including the affluent life they lead in their beautiful waterfront condo in Chicago, as she, the killer, and he, the victim, rush haplessly toward the main event. He is a committed cheater but now decides to play for keeps; she has nothing left to lose. Told in alternating voices, this is about a marriage in the throes of dissolution, a couple headed for catastrophe, concessions that can't be made, and promises that won't be kept.

State of Wonder, by Ann Patchett
Ann Patchett
Book Club Set #38

A gripping adventure story and a profound look at the difficult choices we make in the name of discovery and love. A researcher at a pharmaceutical company, Marina Singh journeys into the heart of the Amazonian delta to check on a field team that has been silent for two years – a dangerous assignment that forces Marina to confront the ghosts of her past.

Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel
Emily St. John Mandel
Book Club Set #74

One snowy night a famous Hollywood actor slumps over and dies on-stage during a production of King Lear. Hours later, the world as we know it begins to dissolve. Moving back and forth in time, this novel charts the strange twists of fate that connect five people: the actor, the man who tried to save him, the actor's first wife, his oldest friend, and a young actress with the Travelling Symphony, caught in the cross-hairs of a dangerous self-proclaimed prophet.

Strawberry fields, by Marina Lewycka
Marina Lewycka
Book Club Set #7

Two young Ukrainians discover romance and adventure as they travel the United Kingdom with a group of migrant workers. As they move through the inglorious work places of England they also discover insecurity, hideous working conditions, isolation, sexual abuse, meagre wages and scams. A hard hitting story made palatable by its very funny, sometimes farcical moments.

Suddenly, by Bonnie Burnard
Bonnie Burnard
Book Club Set #10

A phone call in the night, an unexpected diagnosis suddenly, life can change forever. Sandra, Colleen and Jude have been friends for nearly a lifetime. They share sexual secrets, decorating tips, counsel on marriage, even a hairdresser. Despite their differences and occasional snarls, the friendship only grows stronger over time, and their partners, Jack, Richard and Gus, go along with it, letting this union shape their lives. Now, with Sandra's crisis, everyone must find a way to endure the present and imagine the future.

Sweetness at the bottom of the pie, by Alan Bradley
Alan Bradley
Book Club Set #16

Introducing Flavia de Luce, an eleven-year-old with a penchant for poison that she nurtured to defend herself from her nasty older sisters. One day, while searching for ingredients, Flavia discovers a dead body in the cucumber patch.

Tale for the time being, by Ruth Ozeki
Ruth Ozeki
Book Club Set #54

In Tokyo, sixteen-year-old Nao has decided there's only one escape from her aching loneliness and her classmates' bullying. A diary is her solace – and will touch lives in ways she can scarcely imagine. Across the Pacific, Ruth, a novelist living on a remote island discovers a collection of artifacts washed ashore in a Hello Kitty lunchbox – possibly debris from the devastating 2011 tsunami. As the mystery of its contents unfolds, Ruth is pulled into the past, into Nao's drama and her unknown fate, and forward into her own future.

Tell it to the trees, by Anita Rau Badami
Anita Rau Badani
Book Club Set #39

One freezing winter morning a dead body is found in the backyard of the Dharma family's house. It's the body of their tenant, Anu Krishnan. Why had she, a stranger to the mountains, been foolish enough to go out into the blizzard? From this gripping opening, Anita Rau Badami threads together a story of love and need, and of chilling secrets never told aloud.

Tell the wolves i'm home, by Carol Rifka Brunt
Carol Rifka Brunt
Book Club Set #52

It is 1987, and only one person has ever truly understood fourteen-year-old June Elbus – her uncle, the renowned painter Finn Weiss. Shy at school and distant from her older sister, June can only be herself in Finn's company. So when he dies of a mysterious illness her mother can barely speak about, June's world is turned upside down. But Finn's death brings a surprise acquaintance into June's life – someone who will help her to heal and to question what she thinks she knows about Finn, her family, and even her own heart.

Thousand autumns of Jacob de Zoet, by David Mitchell
David Mitchell
Book Club Set #19

In 1799, the artificial island of Dejima lies in Nagasaki Harbor as Japan's outpost for the Dutch East Indies Company. There, Jacob de Zoet has come to make a fortune large enough to return to Holland and marry the woman he loves.

Three souls, by Janie Chang
Janie Chang
Book Club Set #62

Civil war China is fractured by social and political change. Behind the magnificent gates of the Song family estate, however, none of this upheaval has touched Leiyin, a spoiled and idealistic teenager. Leiyin's punishment for disobedience leads to exile from her family, an unwanted marriage and ultimately a lover's betrayal – followed by her untimely death. Now a ghost, Leiyin must make amends to earn entry to the afterlife. But when her young daughter faces a dangerous future, Leiyin has to make a heart-wrenching choice.

Through black spruce, by Joseph Boyden
Joseph Boyden
Book Club Set #29

From internationally acclaimed author Joseph Boyden comes an astonishingly powerful novel of contemporary aboriginal life, full of the dangers and harsh beauty of both forest and city. When beautiful Suzanne Bird disappears, her sister Annie, a loner and hunter, is compelled to search for her, leaving behind their uncle Will, a man haunted by loss. While Annie travels from Toronto to New York, from modelling studios to A-list parties, Will encounters dire troubles at home. Both eventually come to painful discoveries about the inescapable ties of family.

Tigers in red weather, by Liza Klaussman
Liza Klaussman
Book Club Set #53

Nick and her cousin Helena have grown up with midnight gin parties in Martha's Vineyard on a glorious old family estate known as Tiger House. In the days following the end of WWII, Helena is off to Hollywood and a new marriage, while Nick is heading for a reunion with her own young husband, Hughes, about to return from the war. Soon the gilt begins to crack and Nick and Helena - now with their children, Daisy and Ed - try to recapture that sense of possibility. But when the children discover the victim of a brutal murder one summer on the grounds of Tiger House, the intrusion of violence causes everything to unravel.

The Turner house, by Angela Flournoy
Angela Flournoy
Book Club Set #75

The story of the thirteen children of Francis and Viola Turner who now have to decide what to do with the family home in east-side Detroit, when an ailing Viola is forced to leave the home she has lived in for fifty years and move in with her son.

Unlikely pilgrimage of Harold Fry, by Rachel Joyce
Rachel Joyce
Book Club Set #43

When Harold Fry nips out one morning to post a letter, leaving his wife hoovering upstairs, he has no idea that he is about to walk from one end of the country to the other. He has no hiking boots or map, let alone a compass, waterproof or mobile phone. All he knows is that he must keep walking to save someone else's life.

Vanishing act of Esme Lennox
Maggie O'Farrell
Book Club Set #6

Set between the 1930s, and the present, this novel is the story of Esme, a woman edited out of her family's history, and of the secrets that come to light when, sixty years later, she is released from care, and a young woman, Iris, discovers the great aunt she never knew she had.

We are all completely beside ourselves, by Karen Joy Fowler
Karen Joy Fowler
Book Club Set #63

Coming of age in middle America, 18-year-old Rosemary evaluates how her entire youth was defined by the presence and forced removal of an endearing chimpanzee who was secretly regarded as a family member and whom Rosemary loved as a sister.

We need new names, by NoViolet Bulawayo
NoViolet Bulawayo
Book Club Set #64

Darling is only ten years old, and yet she must navigate a fragile and violent world. In Zimbabwe, she and her friends grasp at memories of before their homes were destroyed by paramilitary policemen, their school closed, and their fathers left for dangerous jobs abroad. Darling has a chance to escape to America and she travels to this new land in search of its famous abundance, only to find that her options as an immigrant are perilously few.

When the moon is low, by Nadia Hashimi
Nadia Hashimi
Book Club Set v#76

The happy, middle-class world of Mahmoud and his wife, Fereiba, implodes when their country is engulfed in war and the Taliban rise to power. Mahmoud, a civil engineer, is murdered by the new fundamentalist regime. Forced to flee Kabul with her three children, Fereiba will face an impossible choice.

Wife's tale, by Lori Lansens
Lori Lansens
Book Club Set #1

When her husband doesn’t come home on the eve of their 25th wedding anniversary, Mary Gooch, who has never learned to be self-sufficient, sets out on a truly remarkable journey of self-discovery that takes her first to the big city and then to another country.

ESL book club sets

Develop your English reading skills by sharing books with others. These titles are popular stories adapted and abridged for the English language learner. ESL book club sets consist of 15 copies of a single title, packaged in a canvas carrying bag, and are available for an extended loan period of six weeks.

Book club sets will be signed out to a single BPL library card holder who will be responsible for ensuring that:

  • the set is returned on time
  • all items are returned with the set
  • all items in the set are returned in good condition

You may borrow a maximum of two sets at a time and renewals are not permitted. Book club sets may be reserved online via our library catalogue for pick up at any BPL branch. Sets can be returned to any BPL location. Want to know more? Read our FAQs below.

Bookworms Club Bronze, by Mark Furr
Mark Furr editor
ESL book club set

The seven short stories in this collection are from Oxford bookworms readers stage 1 and 2. Stage 1 stories are : “The Horse of Death” by Sait Faik retold by Jennifer Bassett, “The Little Hunters at the Lake” by Yalvac Ural retold by Jennifer Bassett, “Mr Harris and the Night Train” by Jennifer Bassett, “Sister Love” by John Escott, “Omega File 349: London, England” by Jennifer Bassett. Stage 2 stories are:” Tildy’s Moment” by O. Henry retold by Diane Mowat, “Andrew, Jan, the Parson and the Fox” by Thomas Hardy retold by Jennifer Bassett. The book club set also includes Bookworms Club Reading Circles Teacher’s Handbook and a folder with book club tips.

Bookworms Club: Silver, by Mark Furr
Mark Furr editor
ESL book club set

The seven short stories in this collection are from Oxford bookworms readers Stage 2 and 3. Stories from stage 2 are : the “Christmas Presents” by O. Henry retold by Diane Mowat, “Netty Sargent and the House” by Thomas Hardy retold by Jennifer Bassett, “Too Old to Rock and Roll” by Jan Mark retold by Diane Mowat,”A Walk in Amnesia” by O. Henry retold by Diane Mowat, “The Five Orange Pips” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle retold by Clare West. Stories from stage 3 are : “The Tell-tale Heart” by Edgar Allan Poe retold by Margaret Nandi, “Go Lovely Rose” by H.E. Bates retold by Rosemary Border. The book club set also includes Bookworms Club Reading Circles Teacher’s Handbook and a folder with book club tips.

Terry Barber
ESL book club set

This biography of Mahatma Gandhi is an engaging high-interest, low vocabulary book with many photos and maps. It is part of the Grass Roots Press Activitist biographies series. Readability level grade 2.

Moby Dick
Herman Melville adapted by Kathy Burke
ESL book club set

A great adventure story about the most dangerous whale in all literature. A young sailor tells the story of Captain Ahab and his men and their confrontation with Moby Dick, the great white whale. This book is Penguin reader Level 2 (elementary). Each book comes with two audio CDs.

The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency
Alexander McCall Smith retold by Anne Collins
ESL book club set

Precious Ramotswe is the only female private detective in Botswana, Africa. She is a very compassionate person and solves mysteries involving a missing husband, a missing finger and a missing child in a special way. This book is a Penguin reader Level 3 (pre-intermediate). Each book comes with two audio CDs.

Frequently asked questions

How many book club sets may be borrowed at a time?

You may have a maximum of two book club sets on your card at one time.

How do I find a book club set in the library catalogue?

In basic search, click the drop down menu and select series list (starts with…) and type in book club set. Choose the third item on the list, Book club set (Burnaby Public Library) to bring up the whole list. To find ESL book club sets, type in ESL book club set.

Can I place a hold on book club sets?

Yes, you can place a hold on a book club set via the online catalogue and have it sent to your preferred Burnaby Public Library location for pickup.

How long can I keep a book club set?

The loan period for a set is six weeks. Book club sets may not be renewed. A fine of $1 per day will be charged for an overdue set or the partial return of a set, to a maximum of $20.

Can a book club set be held for a specific meeting?

No. Due to the number of interested book clubs, we cannot take advance bookings for these sets. Sets are available on a first-come, first-served basis only.

Can book club sets be returned in a book drop?

No. Book club sets must be returned to the check-in desk at any Burnaby Public Library location during open hours. Sets cannot be returned through the book drop or to another public library system. Overdue fines are $1 per day per set, to a maximum of $20.

Can individual book club members return their own books to the library?

No. The representative who borrows the set is responsible for returning a complete book club set.

What if a book is lost?

A $15 replacement cost for a lost or damaged book will be charged to the responsible patron’s card. A $10 replacement charge will be added to the library card for loss or damage to the canvas bag. $150 (plus a $7 processing fee) will be charged for the loss or damage of the entire set.