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Books for the group

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Linda R.
user 7112521
Euless, TX
Post #: 1
Here's another one that I just read that I think the group might like: "The Lovely Bones" by Alice Sebold
It's a little tough in the beginning, but worth it.

When we first meet 14-year-old Susie Salmon, she is already in heaven. This was before milk carton photos and public service announcements, she tells us; back in 1973, when Susie mysteriously disappeared, people still believed these things didn't happen. In the sweet, untroubled voice of a precocious teenage girl, Susie relates the awful events of her death and her own adjustment to the strange new place she finds herself. It looks a lot like her school playground, with the good kind of swing sets. With love, longing, and a growing understanding, Susie watches her family as they cope with their grief, her father embarks on a search for the killer, her sister undertakes a feat of amazing daring, her little brother builds a fort in her honor and begin the difficult process of healing. In the hands of a brilliant novelist, this story of seemingly unbearable tragedy is transformed into a suspenseful and touching story about family, memory, love, heaven, and living.

"A stunning achievement." -The New Yorker

"Deeply affecting. . . . A keenly observed portrait of familial love and how it endures and changes over time." -New York Times

"A triumphant novel. . . . It's a knockout." -Time

"Destined to become a classic in the vein of To Kill a Mockingbird. . . . I loved it." -Anna Quindlen

"A novel that is painfully fine and accomplished." -Los Angeles Times

"The Lovely Bones seems to be saying there are more important things in life on earth than retribution. Like forgiveness, like love." -Chicago Tribune


This is an excellent book and I thoroughly enjoyed. Would second this recommendation.
A former member
Post #: 8
I am reading a book right now that is absolutely wonderful. It is called "The Elegance of the Hedgehog" by Muriel Barberry. It is a bit dense with lofty language, but I would venture to say that it is one of the best books I have ever read. Here's what others are saying about it:

The Elegance of the Hedgehog, by Muriel Barbery. Published 2008 by Europa Editions.



One of the big topics in the book world at the end of 2008 was the dearth of translated literature in America; plenty of English-language literature gets translated for the rest of the world, but precious little of what gets published in other languages makes it to us- a shame. Horace Engdahl, the permanent secretary of the Nobel literature committee, made a splash, and caused a lot of controversy, when he suggested that American insularity was having a deleterious effect on American literature. In large part due to the this shortfall of European literature translated into English, American writers, he argued, were isolated from many of the trends and conversations going on elsewhere in the world, making American literature less rich and interesting.

Now, whether or not you agree with Engdahl's evaluation of American literature, the small quantity of available translated literature isn't really open to dispute. So when The Elegance of the Hedgehog came out in English last year, I was excited to familiarize myself with this celebrated novel that's sold more than a million copies in France. And if you've been hedging on whether or not to read it yourself, let me just say that you're in for a treat.

The action of the book takes place nearly entirely within the confines of an exclusive apartment building in Paris. Most of the tenants, wealthy Parisians, many of whom have lived in these apartments for years if not generations, form the background. The foreground is occupied by Paloma, a precocious, hyperintelligent 12 year old who writes her "Profound Thoughts" in a diary, and Renee, the concierge, who is poor but very intelligent and a bit of an autodidact who hides her worldliness behind a thick veneer of averageness. Paloma and Renee find a mutual friend in the form of Monsieur Ozu, a mysterious, wealthy Japanese man who moves into the building.

Action, though, isn't really the point. The book is a character study of these three individuals, so different on the surface but so alike in their efforts to understand the world and other people. Paloma relentlessly analyzes herself, her family (indifferent bourgeois parents, vacant teenage sister) and yet even though she is obviously very intelligent she's still a little girl. Even her vow to kill herself on her thirteenth birthday comes across as like childish overdramatics- oh, how sorry they'll all be, etc. But herein lies her charm- her combination of analysis and innocence. Renee reads Tolstoy and philosophy, but knows that in class-obsessed Paris the tenants would never believe her to be capable of anything more than servitude; yet, she takes a certain pleasure in the security of her position and when she develops a friendship with Monsieur Ozu, who seems to see something more in her, she loses her balance a little, and must surrender her disguise.

But it's a sweet kind of surrender. The Elegance of the Hedgehog takes as its theme (one of its themes) the sweetness under the surface- Renee's intelligence and sincerity, Paloma's innocence and Monsieur Ozu's kindness and generosity of spirit. It's a talky book, heavy on interior monologues and tangents- and like I said, not a lot actually happens- but stick with these lovely characters and you'll be swept along and moved and touched. It ends too sadly to be a sunshine sort of book but you'll be happy to have read it nonetheless. It's a very special, very rare sort of book that will make you smile through your tears and right away you'll want to savor it all over again. Let's hope more great books like this one make their way over to us soon.

Rating: BUY
A former member
Post #: 9
I would also be up for reading a classic or two. Bronte or Homer or Nietzsche or Shakespeare would be great. I have always wanted to read "Thus Spoke Zarathustra." I have an absurd love for classical literature so I would vote for a classic.
A former member
Post #: 4
I would also be up for reading a classic or two. Bronte or Homer or Nietzsche or Shakespeare would be great. I have always wanted to read "Thus Spoke Zarathustra." I have an absurd love for classical literature so I would vote for a classic.

Bronte, Homer, Nietzsch and Shakespeare all in the same sentence. Wow. That's All.
linda S.
user 8567609
Southlake, TX
Post #: 25
i would like to do Pride and Prejudice next year as a classic. if we wanted to do a longer more ambitious classic i nominate War and Peace or Moby Dick as one of our once a month selections.
Heather
user 7051622
Fort Worth, TX
Post #: 7
I would also be up for reading a classic or two. Bronte or Homer or Nietzsche or Shakespeare would be great. I have always wanted to read "Thus Spoke Zarathustra." I have an absurd love for classical literature so I would vote for a classic.

I wouldn't mind doing Wuthering Heights for a Bronte, since we've already done Jane Eyre ...

Fwiw, I read Life of Pi with a previous book group and ... hated it. Really, really hated it. But have no problem with it going on our calendar ...

Oh, and I would also like to read The Elegance of the Hedgehog.
A former member
Post #: 6
i too want a classic. I think Shannon struck a chord here. and it might be great to see what happens to the group when we discuss Nietzsche!
A former member
Post #: 5
I am all up for Nitzsche. War and Peace sounds good. So does another Jane Austen. Seems like we are on a bit of a classics kick.

Also, and this came to me after last book's discussion. Somebody said that they enjoyed the book but that it wasn't anything that changed their lives. What if folks nominated books that changed their lives or at least was important to them.
Heather
user 7051622
Fort Worth, TX
Post #: 8
I think the thing there is that life-changing books are typically not fiction :) The examples that were raised were all nonfiction, and I think all of mine would be too. But after seeing you guys (mostly) gag on Eat, Pray, Love, I'm not sure you'd be interested in my life-changing books ;) (I wouldn't put Eat, Pray, Love in that category, but it comes closest to what I consider life-changing of anything we've read.) And I'm definitely not suggesting her new book, in which they actually get married biggrin
linda S.
user 8567609
Southlake, TX
Post #: 26
The Outsiders wasn't my favorite book we read this year but provided some good discussion. Eat,Pray,Love also provided good discussion. Damon always points out that some of the best discussions come about books people dislike. i would really like to read a non-fiction book next year. i don't care if it is "good or not. It is hard to judge unless you read it.
Heather please suggest a non-fiction or life changing book for the new year book discussions. i would but don't know anything that was out in the last 20 years to suggest.
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