The Book Club Hub – Memoirs

Book clubs offer a great opportunity for friends and book lovers to gather (whether virtually or in person) to catch up and discuss a good book. There’s only two problems with this activity and they seem to come up at every meeting: what book should the group read next and how do you find enough copies for everyone?

TBPL is here to help with our Book Club in a Bag service. Each bag includes 10 paperback copies of the same book, discussion questions for your group to ponder, author information, and book reviews. With almost 200 different titles available, there is bound to be one that is the perfect next read for your group.

Visit our online catalogue to place holds on book club bags as well as individual copies of any of the books mentioned below. If you’re looking to view all of the book club bags available, simply click the link and search “book club bag”. Any Library patron can place a hold on a bag for pick up at any of our open branches. These bags are loaned out for 8 weeks, which gives you and your book club plenty of time to read and discuss.

Every month, a new set of book club titles will be highlighted in The Book Club Hub post. This month features memoirs. Memoirs are highlights from a person’s life, written by that person. They typically do not encompass the entirety of that person’s life thus far, which makes them different from auto-biographies. The memoirs that your book club may choose to read feature stories of resilience, courage, struggle and perseverance. All of the authors chose to write their stories down in order to share their story and hope that it would encourage and inspire others. Here are this month’s selections:

Acceptance Is Not Surrender: A Little Girl, An Old Man and One Man’s Story of Hope – William S. Sutherland

This is a story about accepting loss rather than getting beaten by it.

It’s about redefining oneself after a crippling disease by living the ups and downs of self-discovery. Far from giving up, acceptance is living a life of disciplined thought and action, searching for newfound strengths to replace those that have been lost. It’s about the strength of the human spirit.

It’s about perseverance, not only for the survivor but also for those closest to him. It’s about relationships and what loss does to test their strength and elasticity. It’s finding a way to move forward individually and collectively despite the obstacles. Whether it’s changing roles within the family, completing the paperwork for the body’s most basic function, confronting suicide, or walking “with no hands”, each of these activities, and more, all came with their specific challenges and rewards.

The hard to find answers to the questions that started this journey are unique to the writer. They are presented not as a manifesto to follow, but as a starting point for you that you may find something here that can help you find your answers, unique to you. 

From the Ashes: My Story of Being Métis, Homeless, and Finding My Way- Jesse Thistle

In this extraordinary and inspiring debut memoir, Jesse Thistle—once a high school dropout and now a rising Indigenous scholar—chronicles his life on the streets and how he overcame trauma and addiction to discover the truth about who he is.

If I can just make it to the next minute . . . thenI might have a chance to liveI might have a chance to be something more than just a struggling crackhead.

From the Ashes is a remarkable memoir about hope and resilience, and a revelatory look into the life of a Métis-Cree man who refused to give up.

Abandoned by his parents as a toddler, Jesse Thistle briefly found himself in the foster-care system with his two brothers, cut off from all they had known. Eventually the children landed in the home of their paternal grandparents, but their tough-love attitudes meant conflicts became commonplace. And the ghost of Jesse’s drug-addicted father haunted the halls of the house and the memories of every family member. Struggling, Jesse succumbed to a self-destructive cycle of drug and alcohol addiction and petty crime, spending more than a decade on and off the streets, often homeless. One day, he finally realized he would die unless he turned his life around.

In this heartwarming and heartbreaking memoir, Jesse Thistle writes honestly and fearlessly about his painful experiences with abuse, uncovering the truth about his parents, and how he found his way back into the circle of his Indigenous culture and family through education.

An eloquent exploration of what it means to live in a world surrounded by prejudice and racism and to be cast adrift, From the Ashes is, in the end, about how love and support can help one find happiness despite the odds.

By Chance Alone: A Remarkable True Story of Courage and Survival at Auschwitz – Max Eisen

In the tradition of Elie Wiesel’s Night and Primo Levi’s Survival in Auschwitz comes a new memoir by Canadian survivor

More than 70 years after the Nazi camps were liberated by the Allies, a new Canadian Holocaust memoir details the rural Hungarian deportations to Auschwitz-Birkenau, back-breaking slave labour in Auschwitz I, the infamous “death march” in January 1945, the painful aftermath of liberation, a journey of physical and psychological healing.

Tibor “Max” Eisen was born in Moldava, Czechoslovakia into an Orthodox Jewish family. He had an extended family of sixty members, and he lived in a family compound with his parents, his two younger brothers, his baby sister, his paternal grandparents and his uncle and aunt. In the spring of1944–five and a half years after his region had been annexed to Hungary and the morning after the family’s yearly Passover Seder–gendarmes forcibly removed Eisen and his family from their home. They were brought to a brickyard and eventually loaded onto crowded cattle cars bound for Auschwitz-Birkenau. At fifteen years of age, Eisen survived the selection process and he was inducted into the camp as a slave labourer.

One day, Eisen received a terrible blow from an SS guard. Severely injured, he was dumped at the hospital where a Polish political prisoner and physician, Tadeusz Orzeszko, operated on him. Despite his significant injury, Orzeszko saved Eisen from certain death in the gas chambers by giving him a job as a cleaner in the operating room. After his liberation and new trials in Communist Czechoslovakia, Eisen immigrated to Canada in 1949, where he has dedicated the last twenty-two years of his life to educating others about the Holocaust across Canada and around the world.

The author will be donating a portion of his royalties from this book to institutions promoting tolerance and understanding.

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail – Cheryl Strayed

At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life. With no experience or training, driven only by blind will, she would hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State — and she would do it alone.
Told with suspense and style, sparkling with warmth and humor, Wild powerfully captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her. 

More memoirs can be found in our Book Club in a Bag service. These are just a few of the thought-provoking and inspiring tales that TBPL has ready for your book club. Memoirs are a fantastic way to learn about someone else’s culture and upbringing, and remind us of how the events of our lives shape who we become as people.

Not in a book club? No problem! These books are also available as single copies in our online catalogue.

Book descriptions via GoodReads

Lindsay – www.tbpl.ca. If you have a comment about today’s column, we would love to hear from you!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s