Book Club Ideas: Non-Fiction Round Table

bookclubDoes your book club always choose fiction titles to read?  Maybe it’s time to add a little non-fiction to the mix. Often the problem with choosing one specific non-fiction book club title for a group, is that only certain people have an interest in that particular subject area.  As an alternative, try a non-fiction round table at one of your meetings, and invite members to share a favourite biography, memoir, travelogue, history, or other non-fiction book. The publication date of the books discussed is not an issue, unless your group prefers current bestsellers.

Need help selecting your book? Try consulting various bestseller lists, like Maclean’s, Toronto Star, Globe & Mail, or the New York Times book reviews. One reliable “What Do I Read Next” website is Goodreads.  Goodreads offers many types of  lists (including best non-fiction titles) as well as reader rankings and reviews of various books. Visit the library for staff suggestions and/or browse the new book section for inspiration.

Ask each of your  book club members  to share what he/she liked about their book and why others in the group might find the book interesting.  Read a favourite passage from your book that encapsulates your author’s writing style and message. If preparation time is an issue, someone in the group could recommend a documentary film that tweaked their interest.

Guelph Public Library recently held one of these events, and I enjoyed participating in the discussion.  Everyone who attended presented interesting titles, old and new.  As a result of the lively discussion and the power of persuasion, I am going to read a couple of books that I would not normally have considered!

Here are some of the recommended titles that were discussed (with publisher summaries).  Hope it helps you to add a title or two to your reading/viewing list!

Banksy-The-Man-Behind-the-Wall-Scheduled-for-a-February-Release-01Banksy: The man behind the wall by Will Ellsworth-Jones (2012)

A revealing glimpse at an enigmatic figure and a riveting account of how a self-professed vandal became an international icon—and turned the art world upside down in the process.

The Borgias: The hidden history by G.J.Meyer (2013)15798316

Sweeping aside the gossip, slander, and distortion that have shrouded the Borgias for centuries, G. J. Meyer offers an unprecedented portrait of the infamous Renaissance family and their storied milieu.

The essential difference: the truth about the male and female brain by Simon Baron-Cohen (2003)

Smart and engaging, this is the thinking person’s guide to gender difference, a book that promises to change the conversation about-and between-men and women.

 gods_mercies2God’s Mercies: rivalry, betrayal and the dream of discovery by Douglas Hunter. (2007)

A searing historical work about death, deceit and dishonour, and the rivalry between Samuel de Champlain and Henry Hudson–two of the greatest explorers of the seventeenth century.

The Inconvenient Indian : a curious account of Native People in North America by Thomas KingE½k

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.


Johnson’s Life Of London: the people who made the city that made the world by Boris Johnson (2012)

As wildly entertaining as it is informative, this is an irresistible account of the city and people that in large part shaped the world we know, written by the mayor of London.

The Kind of Life It’s Been : a memoir by Lloyd Robertson (2012)imagelloyd

Filled with fascinating and often hilarious anecdotes about Robertson’s career, this book captures the essential tales of our time and is a must for any Canadian interested in the inner workings of a frenetic newsroom.

tumblr_m6gk97IlsM1qbps4ao1_400Night by Elie Wiesel (1960)

A candid, horrific, and deeply poignant autobiographical account of Wiesel’s survival as a teenager in the Nazi death camps.

The Ocean of Life: the fate of man and the sea by Callum Roberts (2012)imagesCAY1T30J

Traces the human race’s relationship to the ocean, identifying the consequences of modern fishing, pollution, and climate change on marine life while making urgent recommendations for reversing damage.


Quiet: the power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking by Susan Cain (2012)

A book that considers how dramatically our culture has come to misunderstand and undervalue introverts.

Visit Sunny Chernobyl and other adventures in the world’s most polluted places by Andrew Blackwell (2012)

13165313Equal parts travelogue, expose, environmental memoir, and faux guidebook, Blackwell careens through a rogue’s gallery of environmental disaster areas in search of the worst the world has to offer-and approaches a deeper understanding of what’s really happening to our planet in the process.

Wave : a memoir by Sonali Deraniyagala (2013)201307-omag-wave-284xfall

A memoir by a survivor of the tsunami that struck the coast of Sri Lanka coast in 2004 and took her entire family.

Movie recommendation:

hannaharendtHannah Arendt directed by Margarethe von Trotta (2012)
A look at the life of philosopher and political theorist Hannah Arendt, who reported for The New Yorker on the war crimes trial of the Nazi Adolf Eichmann.


About gplmarcia

Hello book aficionados! I am a librarian at GPL’s Main Library. Most of my time at work is spent on the Information Desk helping people with their information needs and, of course, finding a great book to read. I order the fiction books for the Main Library, so I have the inside track on what’s new, and what’s hot. In my spare time, I love to read (no surprise), walk my dogs (an English Setter and an Irish Red & White Setter) in the forest, visit the gym, and plan my next vacation (however humble that may be…I’m happy to go to the Blue Jays game).
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