Calling all readers in Warwickshire – our second #WarksReads virtual book group discussion will be taking place on Wednesday 22 July from 8pm. We have chosen ‘The Beekeeper of Aleppo’ by Christy Lefteri as our title and we’re inviting you to join us on either our Facebook page or on Twitter (or both if you like) to share your thoughts about the book.

Whether or not you’re already in a book group, everyone is welcome to join. We’d love for you to help us spread the word about our planned discussions so that we can bring together lots of readers from all over Warwickshire (and anyone slightly further afield is welcome to join in the chat too).

Here’s how to get involved:

  1. Download either the eBook or eAudio version of ‘The Beekeeper of Aleppo’ by Christy Lefteri now from BorrowBox (it’s available with no waiting).
  2. Give it a read/listen to it.
  3. Have a ponder about the questions below and explore the links we’ve included to find out more about the inspiration behind the book.
  4. Join us on either Facebook or Twitter on Wednesday 22 July from 8pm to share your thoughts. We’ll be waiting to hear from you and don’t forget to tag us (@warkslibraries if you’re on Twitter) and include #WarksReads in your post so we can find it and reply.

As with our previous #WarksReads title, we thought we’d get you started with some background to the novel and some things to think about (don’t worry, we will try to avoid spoilers so if you’re reading this first, we won’t give too much away).

We have gathered questions from the book itself (you’ll find ‘Reader’s Questions’ at the back of the book if you download the eBook version). We’ve also compiled some questions from online sources which we have linked to so you can visit the sites and find out even more possible questions.

As with last time, we’ll use some of these to prompt our discussions but please feel free to come up with your own questions and pose them to us on 22 July too!

If you’re new to BorrowBox, we have two videos for you to help you get started – you’ll find a ‘Borrowbox Basics’ video here and a ‘Tips & Tricks’ video here. If you find you need some extra assistance, you can email with your query.

What’s ‘The Beekeeper of Aleppo’ about?

9781838770013Taken from the BorrowBox blurb:

“Nuri is a beekeeper; his wife, Afra, an artist. They live a simple life, rich in family and friends, in the beautiful Syrian city of Aleppo – until the unthinkable happens. When all they care for is destroyed by war, they are forced to escape.

As Nuri and Afra travel through a broken world, they must confront not only the pain of their own unspeakable loss, but dangers that would overwhelm the bravest of souls. Above all – and perhaps this is the hardest thing they face – they must journey to find each other again.”

About the author

Christy Lefteri is a lecturer in Creative Writing at Brunel University. Inspired by the story of her parents, who were Cypriot refugees and by the stories of the people she volunteered with while at a Unicef refugee centre in Athens, she created Nuri’s story. You can find out more about Christy and the book on its website here.

The novel was published in 2019 and soon became a bestseller. It recently won the Aspen Words Literary Prize. In this 20 minute video, Christy Lefteri discusses the story behind the novel and how she came to write it with Esmeralda Santiago, one of the judges of the prize (you can see how the award was announced in this video and view Christy Lefteri’s acceptance video here).


Questions to consider

Reading Group Questions 

From the book:

  • Which character do you think changes the most during the course of the novel?
  • Which character do you think displays the greatest emotional resilience?
  • Can reading a novel about the experiences of refugees offer a different perspective or have a different emotional impact to that of the media and news bulletins?
  • What do you think the author’s intention were by introducing the character of Mohammed? What could the relationship between Nuri and Mohammed reveal about Nuri’s state of mind?
  • We never really meet Sami but in what way do we learn about his character and the type of boy he was?
  • What do you think the bees and beekeeping represent and symbolise in the story?
  • At the end of the story, Afra says to Nuri, “You think it’s me who can’t see”. What do you think she means by this? And how far do you agree with what she says?

From online reading guides

  • Does this book offer hope?
  • Has reading the Beekeeper of Aleppo, led you to a different understanding, a deeper empathy perhaps, regarding refugees?

Questions from us

  • Who was your favourite character and why?
  • What were your thoughts about the opening paragraphs of the book – did they spark any emotions in you? Did they draw you into the story?
  • What do you think this novel has to say about grief and how people experience loss?
  • Were there any parts of the novel you particularly enjoyed?

Some background to beekeeping

We thought it also might be fun to highlight some background to beekeeping as it features so heavily in the novel and its title.

There is a real life story of a Syrian doctor who came to the UK as a refugee and raised bees. Dr Ryad Alsous has apiaries in Yorkshire and you’ll find a short video about him here. Christy Lefteri mentions Dr Alsous in her ‘Acknowledgements’ section and thanks him for being an inspiration.

If the history of beekeeping fascinates you, why not explore our eResources for more information? The Encyclopaedia Britannica has a detailed article about apiculture (that’s the technical term for beekeeping) including the fact that a single colony can contain up to 60,000 bees! That’s a lot of buzzing!

You can also learn more about beekeeping from the British Beekeepers Association (whose National Beekeeping Centre is based at Stoneleigh Park) and the Warwickshire Beekeepers Association which was founded in 1879.

Did you also know that there is a beehive at the Market Hall Museum in Warwick? You can find out more about it here, including seeing a picture of the glass-walled hive and what the bees have been up to inside.

We hope that you enjoy reading ‘The Beekeeper of Aleppo’ for our #WarksReads discussion and look forward to hearing your thoughts in July.

Happy Reading!