Join us every month as we read and discuss books and essays that speak to our individual and collective well being, and to reflect on how to practice it in our busy cities.
This will include writings on themes that connect us to each other and the natural world even as we celebrate the beauty and fragility of our existence.
- We’ll discuss one book/essay every month.
- Share your favourites excerpts and quotes on the ‘Reading Circle’ WhatsApp group.
- Don’t worry if you haven’t read the whole book. We’ll send out a summary one week prior to our Reading Circle meeting.
- Join us on Whatsapp for an hour long discussion.
December 2021 and January 2022
In a world that seems so troubled, how do we hold on to hope? Looking at the headlines–a global pandemic, the worsening climate crisis, political upheaval–it can be hard to feel optimistic. And yet hope has never been more desperately needed. In this urgent book, Jane Goodall, the world’s most famous living naturalist and Douglas Abrams, internationally-bestselling author, explore–through intimate and thought-provoking dialogue–one of the most sought after and least understood elements of human nature: hope. Read a summary here.
A magical island. A dangerous task. A burning secret. As a Case Worker at the Department in Charge Of Magical Youth, Linus Baker is unexpectedly summoned and given curious and highly classified assignment: travel to Marsyas Island Orphanage, where six dangerous children reside. Linus must set aside his fears and determine whether or not they’re likely to bring about the end of days. As the story progresses, Linus must make a choice: destroy a home or watch the world burn. An enchanting story, masterfully told, The House in the Cerulean Sea is about the profound experience of discovering an unlikely family in an unexpected place—and realizing that family is yours. Read a summary here.
In Consumed, Barber calls for change within an industry that regularly overreaches with abandon, creating real imbalances in the environment and the lives of those who do the work—often in unsafe conditions for very low pay—and the billionaires who receive the most profit. Barber challenges us to challenge the system and our role in it. The less you buy into the consumer culture, the more power you have. Consumed will teach you how to be a citizen and not a consumer. Read a summary here.
Celebrated scientists Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler explain the amazing power of social networks and our profound influence on one another’s lives. Intriguing and entertaining, Connected overturns the notion of the individual and provides a revolutionary paradigm-that social networks influence our ideas, emotions, health, relationships, behavior, politics, and much more. It will change the way we think about every aspect of our lives. Read the summary here.
Meet Eleanor Oliphant: she struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she’s thinking. Nothing is missing in her carefully timetabled life of avoiding unnecessary human contact. But everything changes when Eleanor meets Raymond, the bumbling and deeply unhygienic IT guy from her office. When she and Raymond together save Sammy, an elderly gentleman who has fallen, the three rescue one another from the lives of isolation that they had been living. Read the summary here.
The Sea Around Us became an overnight best-seller in 1951 and established Carson’s reputation as a nature writer of first rank. It is a survey of what we know about the seas of the Earth that while scientifically accurate is also filled with art and wonder of discovery. A book that is more relevant today in light of recent climate science findings.
The Sense of Wonder is a refreshing antidote to indifference and a guide to capturing the simple power of discovery that Carson views as essential to life. Read the summary here.
All About Love offers radical new ways to think about love by showing its interconnectedness in our private and public lives. In eleven concise chapters, hooks explains how our everyday notions of what it means to give and receive love often fail us, and how these ideals are established in early childhood. She offers a rethinking of self-love (without narcissism) that will bring peace and compassion to our personal and professional lives, and asserts the place of love to end struggles between individuals, in communities, and among societies. Read the summary here.
A young woman walks into an employment agency and requests a job that has the following traits: it is close to her home, and it requires no reading, no writing – and ideally, very little thinking. She is sent to a nondescript office building where she is tasked with watching the hidden-camera feed of an author suspected of storing contraband goods. As she moves from job to job, writing bus adverts for shops that mysteriously disappear, and composing advice for rice cracker wrappers that generate thousands of devoted followers, it becomes increasingly apparent that she’s not searching for the easiest job at all, but something altogether more meaningful. Read the summary here.
When orphaned Mary Lennox comes to live at her uncle’s great house on the Yorkshire Moors, she finds it full of secrets. The mansion has nearly one hundred rooms, and her uncle keeps himself locked up. The gardens surrounding the large property are Mary’s only escape. The Secret Garden is a classic endearing story of growth and learning to bloom again. Read the summary here.
In Vesper Flights Helen Macdonald brings together a collection of her best loved essays, along with new pieces on topics ranging from nostalgia for a vanishing countryside to the tribulations of farming ostriches to her own private vespers while trying to fall asleep. Meditating on notions of captivity and freedom, immigration and flight, Helen invites us into her most intimate experiences. Vesper Flights is a captivating and foundational book about observation, fascination, time, memory, love and loss and how we make sense of the world around us. Read the summary here.
The Island of Missing Trees by Elif Shafak
Elif Shafak’s The Island of Missing Trees is a moving, beautifully written and delicately constructed story of love, division, transcendence, history and eco-consciousness.
Bridging multiple timelines and geographies Shafak tells the story of a family that is at the same time personal yet universal. Read the summary here.