** Considerations / Recommendations

  • Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, by David Shafer
  •  The Blazing Worldby Siri Hustvedt. This is a masterpiece of a novel. It's about an extremely intelligent woman in the art world,
  •  Elena Mauli Shapiro’s second novel, In The Red is spectacular. It’s a dark story about a bright young woman’s descent into a criminal underworld, realism interlaced with fairy tales. The protagonist is the kind of woman who we’re used to seeing as arm candy in gangster films, the kind of woman whose main jobs are to be beautiful and to not notice what’s going on around them.The book is an expert meditation on money, morality, and belonging, and I found it mesmerizing. I tried to champion it on tour. That was the book I named when people asked what I’d read recently that I’d recommend, unless they asked about books that have science fictional overtones, in which case I went with the Michel Faber.
  • Probably the most sheer delight I experienced reading a book this year was with Jason Porter’s Why Are You So Sad? It’s a short little book that, despite being an absolutely zany satire, packs a serious emotional punch. And it’s hilarious. I found myself reciting lines to my wife and friends as I read it. And it has one of the best descriptions of a groggy work morning that I’ve read, beginning: “Waking up was like reversing a burial……..”
  • Sarah Waters, The Paying Guests
  • Rabin Alameddine, Unnecessary Woman done
  • Colm Tobin, Nora Webster
  • Jane Smiley, Some Luck
  • Chris Bohjalian, Trans-Sister-Radio
  • Christina Baker Kline, The Orphan Train  
  • VA comments: The Chris Bohjalian is, as always, very well written, a good story, and leads well into good discussion.  The Kline is not the best written book but such an interesting subject (who knew?) that the suspension of disbelief is forgiven.  I have a terrific PBS documentary (also called Orphan Train) that actually takes three real families and follows their progress (and lack of it).  I passed it around to my book group after we read the book.
  • The Flamethrowers - Rachel Kushner
  • Lovers at the Chamelion Club - Francine Prose
  • Claire DeWitt & the City of the Dead - Sara Gran
  • Cuckoo's Calling - Robert Galbraith
  • Subtle Bodies - Norman Rush
  • Me Before You - Jojo Moyes DONE
  • Bleeding Edge - Thomas Pynchon
  • Tenth of December - George Saunders
  • The Man Who Loved Books too much - Alison Bartlet
  • Gaudy Night - Dorothy Sayers
  • American Gods - Neil Gaiman
  • Ocean at the End of the Lane - Neil Gaiman
  • Wind up Bird Chronicle - Haruki Murakami
  • Master & Margarita - Bulgakov
  • Good list of Prizewinners
Miss Lonelyhearts & The Day of the Locust - Nathaniel West
The Song is You  - Arthur Phillips
The Thieves of Manhattan -  Adam Langer
Arcadia - Lauren Groff  DONE
Straight Man - Richard Russo
Follow Me Down -Kio Stark
Twilight of the Superheroes - Deborah Eisenberg
Super Sad True Love Story - Gary Shteyngart
Slaughterhouse-Five  - Kurt Vonnegut
Train Dreams - Denis Johnson
The Lazarus Project - Aleksander Hemon
What is a Novella?
Daisy Miller - Henry James DONE
The Better Sort - Henry James
The Beast in the Jungle - Henry James
Death in Venice - Thomas Mann
Up at the Villa - W. S. Maugham
  • Something off Laura Lippman's list of favorites:  Mildred Pierce (Cain), DONE Winter's Bone (Woodrell), Bootlegger's Daughter (Maron)...
  • The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman. Great writing and an interesting insight into the culture of the time. Besides being entranced, I learned a lot.  ((Didn't do it for me. Ed.)
  • Midnight's Children (Salmon Rushdie) is on my list for another group next month.  I did not read it when it came out, and it was awarded the "Booker of Bookers," so I'm looking forward to it.
  • The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey by Walter Mosley
  • At Swim, Two Boys Jamie O'Neil
    You may have read the hype. Irishman Jamie O'Neill was working as a London hospital porter when his 10-year labor of love, the 200,000-word manuscript of At Swim, Two Boys, written on a laptop during quiet patches at work, was suddenly snapped up for a hefty six-figure advance. For once, the book fully deserves the hype. 
  • Have we done anything by Virginia Woolf?  I have never read her and just finished THE HOURS by Michael Cunningham, which I thought was wonderful.  Am thinking I should get into MRS. DALLOWAY...
  • I can recommend Horse Heaven by Jane Smiley and Shantaram by Roberts.  Also, just finished Under the Banner of Heaven (Krakauer) last night.  I feel everyone in America should read that book. DONE 
  • A story collection?  I was looking at Daniyal Mueenuddin's "In Other Rooms, Other Wonders".  It looks interesting and topical since it's about Pakistan.  I think it was a finalist for the National Book Award. If we want to go to Pakistan, but not do a short collection, how about Kamila Shamsie? 
  • How about "Lush Life" by Richard Price for a mystery?  I'm reading it for my other book club.  Real good.  He was also a co-writer on "The Wire" on HBO.
  • I know some of these are classics and I am sure they are all in paperback. Might we ?consider some
  • Jane Alison, The Love-Artist
  • Great List from Pat S.
  •  I also read 'The Photograph' by Penelope Lively. Entirely unmemorable.
     Now I'm onto 'The Spirit Level' and finding out why equality is better for everyone....
  •  We are still exploring "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" as well as "Invention of Wings" by Sue Monk Kidd, "School of Essential Ingredients" by Erica Bauermeister, "Elegance of the Hedgehog" by Muriel Barbery, and "Snow Flower and The Secret Fan" by Lisa See.  We need suggestions for non-fiction.  We plan to meet on Tuesday for "Orphan Train" by Christina Baker Kline.
    • "A Covert Affair" by Jennet Conant ::  It describes Julia Child's and husband Paul's experiences as members of the OSS (Office of Strategic Services) in the Far East during WWII, as well as during the McCarthy era. Julia was a spy!!!  Who knew?
    • 1 Wuthering Heights Emily Bronte, 1847
      2 Pride and Prejudice Jane Austen, 1813  DONE
      3 Romeo and Juliet William Shakespeare, 1597
      4 Jane Eyre Charlotte Brontë, 1847   DONE
      5 Gone with the Wind Margaret Mitchell, 1936
      6 The English Patient Michael Ondaatje, 1992
      7 Rebecca Daphne du Maurier, 1938
      8 Doctor Zhivago Boris Pasternak, 1957
      9 Lady Chatterley's Lover DH Lawrence, 1928
      10 Far from The Madding Crowd Thomas Hardy, 1874
      12 The African Queen CS Forester, 1935
      13 The Great Gatsby F Scott Fitzgerald, 1925 
      • The People's Act Of  Love by James Meek
        Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann
        Gilead By Marilynne Robinson
        Dark At The Roots by  Sarah Thyre
        Shakespeare's Kitchen by  Lore Segal
        Vamped by David Sosnowski
        The Black Prince by Iris Murdoch
        End Of The Affair by Graham Greene
    • In 'Lark and Termite,' Jayne Anne Phillips continues to explore human vulnerabilities and the lasting effects of war on memory :: Falling in love with a writer requires commitment; the long haul, thick and thin. They get old, you get old. The relationship waxes and wanes.  http://www.latimes.com/
    • SOMEONE KNOWS MY NAME by Lawrence Hill is fiction but based on historical facts surrounding the black slave trade in the 18th century.  I have just fnished it and suggest you all look at it for summer reading....very appropriate on Independence Day!  The protagonist is a wonderful example of a true feminist.
    • Wonderful chase around looking for stolen diamonds in Antwerp a few years ago (Flawless) and new Simon Mawer (Trapeze)...very good.

  • The Book of Other People (Zadie Smith)
  • A Bit on the Side (William Trevor)
  •  Authors recommended include:
    • Out -- Natsuo Kirino 
    • The Year Of Wonders -- Geraldine Brooks 
    • Metamorphosis -- Franz Kafka
    • My Antonia - Willa Cather
    • The Way the Crow Flies - Ann-Marie MacDonald 
    • The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Ann Shaffer, Annie Barrows 
    • Last Train to Paradise - Les Standiford
    • I went to the library today to pick up my hold and was immediately taken in (first 80 pages) with Chris Bohjalian's 2001 TRANS-SISTER RADIO.  I love the structure around the fictional NPR transcript.  Don't know how I missed this since I am a Bohjalian junkie (over half way through his new mystery NIGHT STRANGERS) - VA.   Wondered if it or MIDWIVES might be something of interest to East Side Readers.
    • ...a possible note to think about going forward: The Hungry Tide by Amitav Ghosh...set in the Sundarbans in Bay of Bengal in India...very interesting.
    • Better than Everyman, read Garcia Marquez, Memories of my Melancholy Whores, for a masterpiece by the master.
    • I just finished Jack Maggs by Peter Carey. Great book -- easy to read and has literary merit. I also just finished Desperate Characters - a 70s book back in print by Paula Fox. What great reviews her work got and I'd love to hear from others - I had never heard of Fox.
    • Diane Rehm's monthly meeting today reviewed Charlotte Bronte's Villette. Maybe something for our Classics Klatch to explore. DONE
    • I hope we get to read Philip Roth this winter - I thought Everyman was so excellent, as were some of his others. I read another Paul Auster and was it odd, but readable - Leviathan.
    • here is the opening of a review in the chicago trib that could contain an idea for a book selection: "The Missouri Historical Society Press recently reissued King of the Hill and Looking for Miracles," the coming-of-age, Depression-era stories by A. E. Hotchner, in a single volume: Long before McCourt, Bragg, Walls, or Natalie Kusz were turning their own true stories of childhood poverty into triumphant works of art, Hotchner had already established the childhood memoir's gold standard." I don't know Hotchner but the reviewer (beth kephart) makes king sound very attractive.
    • The Hotchner sounds interesting, especially since he is Paul Newman's great good friend & business partner in the spaghetti sauce sweepstakes. see... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/
    A._E._Hotchner ,,, movie was already made of KING in 93, by Soderbergh.
  • Right now I'm enjoying Tender is the Night, which I have never read. Fitzgerald was a wiz with language.
  •  I did, however, just finish "Elegies for the Brokenhearted" by Christie Hodgen.  Short, but packed with emotion.  Uniquely written in second person, it is both sorrowful and uplifting at the same time. I enjoyed it and thought it would be a great book for the Eastsiders.
  • When Madeline was Young, Jane Hamilton's 2006 book. I think it is a remarkable book, strong from the beginning and held me all the way through. I hated to see it end!
  • I have a one for the future.....People of the Book (Geraldine Brooks) was in my opinion a wonderful fictional tale cleverly woven with historical material. 
  • Here is an interesting interview that you might alert people to. It is an interview with Francine Prose about her book Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them. She has a lot of real good stuff to say. There is a good bit about book clubs at the top of page 2 and here is her central messsage: "In fact, the important thing is the way the writer uses the language."
  • This is the book I mentioned, Lush Life by Richard Price. Very strong.
  • This summer I read a lot of so-so books, but read 2 by Roxana Robinson - one, the newest novel, was Cost. I thought her writing was very good and very readable. Think I saw a review in NYTimes.
  • My "other" book group will be discussing In the Lake of the Woods by Tim O'Brien. The Essex library book group will discuss The Three Miss Margarets by Louise Shaffer. The Mass. Library Association sponsors these discussions and a particular book available along with a discussion kit. It's a good thing!
    • Now I am reading Loving Frank which a lot of people read a year or two ago. I started America, America as it got so much press, but tend to agree w/ reviewers & couldn't get with the writing style. I tried and didn't finish Post Birthday World by L. Shriver, though it wasn't bad.
    • Suite Francaise, by Irene Nemirovsky.  I just finished it.  The author does not write about anti-semitism, but rather skews the hypocricy of the upper classes during a very historic time in history. It would make for good conversation. DONE
    • Have we ever had an Ishiguru book - Never Let Me Go is quite a book but then so was Remains of the Day. Don't know if there's lots to discuss but great to read. DONE
    • Didn’t even sink into Space Between Us. And I doubt I’d plough through SNOW (pardon the pun) any time soon. I am now reading The Moonlight Cage, authored by the same who wrote The Linnet Bird.... Very popular in my town. Since then I have read 3 other books including Running With Scissors. I could not believe there was a family more dysfunctional than Jeanette Walls!
    • Thank you for introducing me to the Indian author who wrote SPACE BETWEEN US. I just finished it and found it very well written and ever so informative. Just started THIRTEEN MOONS, the new Charles Frazier  on the Cherokee Nation's trials and tribulations in this country.
    • I am working on In the Company of the Courtesan by Sarah Dunant on tape while I clean out my closets.
    More books:
    1. On Beauty by Zadie Smith
    2. Long Way Down by Nick Hornby - DONE
    3. Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera DONE
    4. Blink by Malcolm Gladwell (psychology) DONE
    5. Freddy and Fredericka by Mark Helprin 
    6. The Orientalist - Tom Reiss (biography)
    7. The Russian Debutante's Handbook by Gary Shteyngart
    • I came across Gary Shteyngart when doing research for classics (Fathers & Sons is his favorite book) and remembered his "Absurdistan" got a lot of attention when it came out.
    • Just finished reading "On Beauty" by Zadie Smith. Great read! It loosely follows "Howard's End", but she adds religion, politics, race relations, and gangsta street talk. Either one of these would be a good discussion book.
    • A reminder about Mary Doria Russell's new book, Dreamers of the Day, which I found very interesting. It's about a 40-year old teacher who goes to Egypt and gets involved with Lawrence of Arabia & Winston Churchill during the time before Palestine became Israel. It was right up my alley as I love books which are based on historic events.
    • Just finished a book by Kate Atkinson, "One Good Turn." It was a mystery and, even though I am not a fan of mysteries, this was entertaining.
    Discovered while search-surfing:
    1. Gnooks - Welcome to the World of Literature (amazing German website)
    2. Identity Theory | weblogs | what we're reading (nice literary startup webzine out of Gainesville and what these writers-in-training are reading) 
    3. Beowulf on the Beach: what to love, what to skip
    Other books:
    • Kafka on the Shore (Murakami)
    • The Razor's Edge (Maugham) DONE
    • The Fig Eater (Jody Shields)
    • Case Histories (Atkinson) DONE
    • Madame Bovary (Flaubert) DONE
    • Two I have enjoyed (that may not be the right word) in the past few weeks are: A Happy Marriage, by R. Yglesias, and Long Road Home, by Rose Tremain - the latter recommended by the staff at my local bookstore. Oh, and a police procedural writer I found this summer from a BBC series we watch - Lynda LaPlante. . . 
    • Francine Prose
    • John LeCarre -- The Spy Who Came in from the Cold
    • Devil's Tickets
    • Ethan Frome
    • The Way 
    • A Gate at the Stairs - Lorrie Morgan
    • YOKO OGAWA novels DONE
    • I'd go for Philip Roth - Nemesis, The Plot Against America, American Pastoral. . .
    • Where'd you go, Bernadette??? just for fun!!! DONE
    • For new authors - Dinaw Mengestu's The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears  (inthe category of  fiction by immigrant Americans)
    • I keep seeing Carol Shields name, as well as other female writers I've never read. . .

No comments: