Book club takes root at Ste. Anne’s Spa
Under the shade of a giant maple tree, overlooking rolling fields, a book group gathers each month at Ste. Anne’s Spa in Ontario, moderated by Toronto author and literary reviewer Noah Richler.
Richler came up with the idea for Ste. Anne’s Book of the Month Club while staying at the spa after completing This is My Country, What’s Yours? A Literary Atlas of Canada, in August 2006. He noted the demographic similarity between book-buyers and spa-goers. “The other thing—I’ve always loved the tree in front of the dining room, with its leafy branches and broad arbor,” explains Richler. “It struck me as a wonderful spot to do some contemplative reading.”
Richler writes a column on the monthly selection for Ste. Anne’s website and newsletter. Later he arrives and gathers a group of guests to discuss the book over tea. The group started in June with Michael Ondaatje’s novel Divisadero; other selections have included Gil Adamson’s The Outlander and Khaled Hosseini’s A Thousand Splendid Suns. November’s selection will be a winner of Canada’s prestigious Giller Prize, and December will feature a Christmas book. In the future, Richler hopes the book’s authors will join him for the discussions.
While Richler aims to stimulate participants’ minds, he notes, “The meetings aren’t meant to be anything like homework—people go to the spa to get away and I don’t want to interfere with that—but [to serve as] a complement to the meditation and subtly spiritual activities that go on.” For more information visit www.steannes.com