“Community” Reading List


Katarina Bivald: The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend

“Broken Wheel, Iowa, has never seen anyone like Sara, who travelled all the way from Sweden just to meet her pen pal, Amy. When she arrives, however, she finds that Amy’s funeral has just ended. Luckily, the townspeople are happy to look after their bewildered tourist—even if they don’t understand her peculiar need for books. Marooned in a farm town that’s almost beyond repair, Sara starts a bookstore in honour of her friend’s memory. A warm, witty book about community, stories, and love.”

Mary Ann Shaffer: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“A remarkable tale of an island in the English Channel before and after the German occupation during World War II. Under the duress of wartime, a society of acquaintances soon becomes a close family and community, forging affections and loyalties, fostering resilience, and incubating some unexpected love interest.”

Alexander McCall Smith: 44 Scotland Street (book 1 in the Scotland Street series). 

“The residents of 44 Scotland Street and the city of Edinburgh itself come to vivid life in Alexander McCall Smith’s gently satirical, wonderfully perceptive serial novels, with five-year-old prodigy Bertie Pollock at the centre of it all. Readers everywhere will doubtless recognize their neighbours and themselves in this shrewd send-up of urban society.”

E. F. Benson: Mapp and Lucia 

“This 1931 comic novel is the fourth of six novels in the popular Mapp and Lucia series. Subtly brilliant comedy of village life and social rivalry between the wars. Emmeline Lucas (known universally to her friends as Lucia) is an arch-snob of the highest order. In Miss Elizabeth Mapp of Mallards, Lucia meets her match. Ostensibly the most civil and genteel of society ladies, there is no plan too devious, no plot too cunning, no depths to which they would not sink, in order to win the battle for social supremacy in their community. Using as their deadly weapons garden parties, bridge evenings and charming teas, the two combatants strive to outcharm each other – and the whole of Tilling society – as they vie for the position of doyenne of the town.”

Gerald Durrell: My Family and Other Animals

“Funny account of a British expat family who become part of a community in Greece and whose home turns into a cross between a madhouse and a zoo. Filled with humorous anecdotes about family members, beautiful descriptions of the island and entertaining interactions with many of the island locals, including a meeting with a convict let out for a temporary jaunt. 

‘This is the story of a five-year sojourn that I and my family made on the Greek island of Corfu. It was originally intended to be a mildly nostalgic account of the natural history of the island, but I made a grave mistake by introducing my family into the book in the first few pages. Having got themselves on paper, they then proceeded to establish themselves and invite various friends to share the chapters.’”


Priya Parker: The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why It Matters 

“Parker explains how ordinary people can create remarkable occasions, large and small. In dozens of fascinating examples, she breaks down the alchemy of these experiences to show what goes into the good ones and demonstrates how we can learn to incorporate those elements into all of our gatherings. The result is a book that’s both journey and guide, full of big ideas with real-world applications that will change the way you look at a business meeting, a parent-teacher conference, and a backyard barbecue.”

Kristin Shell: The Turquoise Table: Finding Community and Connection in Your Own Front Yard 

“An invitation to you to connect with your neighbours and build friendships. The book is about establishing community in simple ways wherever you are. Desperate for a way to slow down and connect, Kristin put an ordinary picnic table in her front yard, painted it turquoise, and began inviting friends and neighbours to join her. Life changed in her community, and it can change in yours too. Alongside personal and heartwarming stories, Kristin gives you:

Stress-free ideas for kick-starting your own Turquoise Table

Simple recipes to take outside and share with others

Stories from people using Turquoise Tables in their neighbourhoods

Encouragement to overcome barriers that keep you from connecting

This gorgeous book, with vibrant photography and a ribbon marker, invites you to make a difference right where you live. The beautiful design makes it an ideal book to give to a friend or to keep for yourself. Community and friendship are waiting just outside your front door. A great read for anyone who wants to grow in their practice of hospitality and needs reassurance that it doesn’t have to be an elaborate endeavour; the simple act of being available can make a world of difference in a culture that increasingly longs for a sense of community and belonging.”

Mia Birdsong: How We Show Up: Reclaiming Family, Friendship, and Community 

“Through research, interviews, and stories of lived experience, ‘How We Show Up’ returns us to our inherent connectedness where we find strength, safety, and support in vulnerability and generosity, in asking for help, and in being accountable.”

Heather Flores: Food Not Lawns: How to Turn Your Yard Into a Garden and Your Neighbourhood Into a Community 

“This joyful permaculture lifestyle manual inspires readers to apply the principles of the paradise garden–simplicity, resourcefulness, creativity, mindfulness, and community–to all aspects of life. Plant “guerilla gardens” in barren intersections and medians; organize community meals; start a street theater troupe or host a local art swap; free your kitchen from refrigeration and enjoy truly fresh, nourishing foods from your own plot of land; work with children to create garden play spaces.

Flores cares passionately about the damaged state of our environment and the ills of our throwaway society. In ‘Food Not Lawns’ she shows us how to reclaim the earth one garden at a time.”

Children’s books:

Gloria Houston: Miss Dorothy and Her Bookmobile (picture book)

“Dorothy’s dearest wish is to be a librarian in a fine brick library just like the one she visited when she was small, but her new home in North Carolina has valleys and streams but no libraries. So Miss Dorothy and her neighbours decide to start a bookmobile for their community. Instead of people coming to a fine brick library, Miss Dorothy can now bring the books to them – at school, on the farm, even once in the middle of a river!”

Elisabeth Beresford: The Wombles 

“A delightful novel about community-oriented furry creatures living under Wimbledon Common, who come out at night and collect what the untidy humans have left behind. Though it is a fantasy, it is a very down-to-earth and solid fantasy, with lots of practical-minded characters who make things and fix things and get problems solved. There isn’t a better book in children’s literature that promotes the “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” messages of today.”

Paul Fleischman: Weslandia (picture book)

“This book is about a boy who feels like he doesn’t fit in with his peers and is strong enough to not be a follower to all the current trends. Instead, he begins his own land where he is free to be himself. The land he creates reflects his interests and his unique personality. He finds out that by being himself, he ends up with more friends than he could imagine. A fun follow up activity is for readers to create their own land based on their interests and unique personalities. This is a great way for a group to get to know one another, too.”

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