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Re: [bookclub-568] Please vote for our next book club selections by April 18

From: user 4.
Sent on: Wednesday, April 16, 2008 10:51 AM
The two books that interest me are "The Assault on Reason" by Al Gore
and "Unaccustomed Earth" by Jhumpa Lahiri.

I look forward to meeting the group!


Quoting Charis <[address removed]>:

> Hi everyone,
> I?m looking forward to our discussion of Love in the Time of Cholera
> on April 27[1]. I?ve listed details from about the books we
> might read in the coming months below. Please read this before voting,
> because the poll only includes author and title. I?m pleased to
> include several lesser-known authors who have contacted me via
> expressing interest in talking to our group after we read
> their book. I?ve labeled these books with an asterisk. Please vote for
> up to 3 books here.[2] I?ll announce the winners at our April meetup.
> Thank you,
> Charis
> Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell
> (Paperback, $10.87)
> Blink is about the first two seconds of looking--the decisive glance
> that knows in an instant. Gladwell, the best-selling author of The
> Tipping Point, campaigns for snap judgments and mind reading with a
> gift for translating research into splendid storytelling. Building his
> case with scenes from a marriage, heart attack triage, speed dating,
> choking on the golf course, selling cars, and military maneuvers, he
> persuades readers to think small and focus on the meaning of "thin
> slices" of behavior. The key is to rely on our "adaptive
> unconscious"--a 24/7 mental valet--that provides us with instant and
> sophisticated information to warn of danger, read a stranger, or react
> to a new idea.
> Veronika Decides to Die: A Novel of Redemption by Paulo Coelho
> (Paperback, $11.16)
> When Paulo Coelho (The Alchemist) was a young man, his parents had
> him committed to mental hospitals three times because he wanted to be
> an artist--an unacceptable profession in Brazil at the time. During
> his numerous forced incarcerations he vowed to write some day about
> his experiences and the injustices of involuntary commitment. In this
> fable-like novel, Coelho makes good on his promise, with the creation
> of a fictional character named Veronika who decides to kill herself
> when faced with all that is wrong with the world and how powerless she
> feels to change anything. Although she survives her initial suicide
> attempt, she is committed to a mental hospital where she begins to
> wrestle with the meaning of mental illness and whether forced drugging
> should be inflicted on patients who don't fit into the narrow
> definition of "normal." The strength and tragedy of Veronika's
> fictional story was instrumental in passing new government regulations
> in Brazil that have made it more difficult to have a person
> involuntarily committed. Like any great storyteller, Coelho has used
> the realm of fiction to magically infiltrate and alter the realm of
> reality.
> Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri (Hardcover, $13.75)
> The gulf that separates expatriate Bengali parents from their
> American-raised children?and that separates the children from
> India?remains Lahiri's subject for this follow-up to Interpreter of
> Maladies and The Namesake. In this set of eight stories, the results
> are again stunning. In the title story, Brooklyn-to-Seattle transplant
> Ruma frets about a presumed obligation to bring her widower father
> into her home, a stressful decision taken out of her hands by his
> unexpected independence. The alcoholism of Rahul is described by his
> elder sister, Sudha; her disappointment and bewilderment pack a
> particularly powerful punch. And in the loosely linked trio of stories
> closing the collection, the lives of Hema and Kaushik intersect over
> the years, first in 1974 when she is six and he is nine; then a few
> years later when, at 13, she swoons at the now-handsome 16-year-old
> teen's reappearance; and again in Italy, when she is a 37-year-old
> academic about to enter an arranged marriage, and he is a 40-year-old
> photojournalist. An inchoate grief for mothers lost at different
> stages of life enters many tales and, as the book progresses, takes on
> enormous resonance. Lahiri's stories of exile, identity,
> disappointment and maturation evince a spare and subtle mastery that
> has few contemporary equals.
> *Crying with Cockroaches: Argentina to New York with Two Horses by
> Marianne Du Toit
> (Paperback, $21.95)
> Launched by the Irish Prime Minister, Bertie Ahern, this is an
> extraordinary travel/adventure tale. An undertaking against the odds.
> A journey considered by many as madness. Yet, South African born and
> ABC Person of the Week Marianne Du Toit was determined to follow her
> dream - adamant that with only two horses for company, she should
> explore the Americas, travelling from Argentina to New York City over
> 21 months. Limited equestrian experience, only one contact and an
> unknown continent, she persevered. Despite it being a journey of
> heartbreak, frustration, bureaucracy, loneliness, danger, and hunger,
> nothing stopped her from following her heart. Heart-warming encounters
> with local people combined with many hair-raising and dangerous
> moments make this book a page-turner. It's a simple tale, which
> explores the complexities of the human and equine spirit and indeed
> the marriage of the two. Both are pushed to the limits on this
> revealing epic journey, with very happy and very sad consequences.
> Courageous yet fragile, worried yet full of conviction, amongst people
> yet often lonely, carefree yet feeling unsafe - these are the themes
> which form part of the writer's physical and psychological journey
> into the unknown. Her adventures had a powerful message - you can
> overcome the impossible if you are determined and positive. Humour and
> a 'taking everyday as it comes' attitude helped a great deal too. Her
> story, told with sincerity and warmth, is bound to capture the
> readers' imagination. It is a story to be enjoyed by the young or old,
> fellow adventurers or those who simply prefer to explore the world
> from the comforts of their armchairs. More than 100 coloured pictures
> complete this unique story.
> *For Love of Livvy by J M Griffin (Paperback, $17.95)
> After her favorite aunt is found dead, a suspicious box of precious
> stones is left on the doorstep and the cops refuse to explain their
> theories, criminal justice instructor Lavinia Esposito, a.k.a. Vinnie,
> takes investigation matters into her own hands. Soon involved in
> situations beyond her control, Vinnie finds herself in hot water with
> the law, the crooks and her father. Willing to take chances to find
> out what happened to Livvy and why the jewels were addressed to her
> aunt, Vinnie plunges ahead. It will require tenacity, bravery and keen
> wits to solve and survive this mystery.
> *Fly Paper for Freaks by Christine Peetz (Paperback, $9.96)
> Christine Peetz at the age of twenty-eight finds herself divorced.
> She' s been married for close to a decade. Getting back into the
> dating scene wasn't exactly easy; and well, what she found fun prior
> to getting married at nineteen didn't sound possible, especially with
> two boys to care for. Age has made her smarter though, less gullible.
> In Fly Paper for Freaks, Christine lists twenty-two types of freaks
> she and her friends have encountered over the past three years. Each
> freak has a chapter which includes a summary of the relationship, some
> lasting longer than others. The lessons learned which accompany each
> freak are perceptively humorous. A group called the Double Secret
> Happy Hour Society, a group consisting of Christine Peetz's married
> men friends add funny and sometimes gross comments to make the reader
> laugh out loud. Like the Happy Hour gang, the author s writing to be a
> bit rough around the edges. Still, I found myself completely
> enthralled, unable to stop reading.
> *From the Dust by Ryshia Kennie (Paperback, $13.22)
> Love can be so... unexpected. In the spring of 1935, understated
> beauty Eva Edwards is widowed. A blessing to be sure. Having long
> since left England, a rare talent for music and notions of love
> behind, her one focus is keeping her farm and raising a child not her
> own-no matter the sacrifice and struggle. Born of wealth, veterinarian
> Tate Prescott Brown has come to the dust of Saskatchewan's rural
> Qu'Appelle District to find independence and take possession of his
> farm-Eva's farm. Now, in an effort to solve a legal misunderstanding,
> Tate faces a sacrifice and struggle of his own: to do what he thinks
> is right by Eva ... or what's right for his heart. Reviews and Other
> Information: "Historical readers will take pleasure in the unique
> setting of this story and romance readers will find the blossoming
> relationship between Eva Edwards and Tate Brown irresistible... all
> the elements I love in a good historical romance... a wonderful
> setting, good, strong characters and a romance to take your breath
> away."
> The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory (paperback, $10.88)
> Sisterly rivalry is the basis of this fresh, wonderfully vivid
> retelling of the story of Anne Boleyn. Anne, her sister Mary and their
> brother George are all brought to the king's court at a young age, as
> players in their uncle's plans to advance the family's fortunes. Mary,
> the sweet, blond sister, wins King Henry VIII's favor when she is
> barely 14 and already married to one of his courtiers. Their affair
> lasts several years, and she gives Henry a daughter and a son. But her
> dark, clever, scheming sister, Anne, insinuates herself into Henry's
> graces, styling herself as his adviser and confidant. Soon she
> displaces Mary as his lover and begins her machinations to rid him of
> his wife, Katherine of Aragon. This is only the beginning of the
> intrigue that Gregory so handily chronicles, capturing beautifully the
> mingled hate and nearly incestuous love Anne, Mary and George ("kin
> and enemies all at once") feel for each other and the toll their
> family's ambition takes on them. Mary, the story's narrator, is the
> most sympathetic of the siblings, but even she is twisted by the
> demands of power and status; charming George, an able plotter, finally
> brings disaster on his own head by falling in love with a male
> courtier. Anne, most tormented of all, is ruthless in her drive to
> become queen, and then to give Henry a male heir. Rather than settling
> for a picturesque rendering of court life, Gregory conveys its
> claustrophobic, all-consuming nature with consummate skill. In the
> end, Anne's famous, tragic end is offset by Mary's happier fate, but
> the self-defeating folly of the quest for power lingers longest in the
> reader's mind.
> *Red Helmet by Homer Hickam (Hardcover, $16.49)
> The latest from Rocket Boys author Hickam takes an inside look at
> coal mining, from shoveling gob to negotiating international trade
> deals, through the lens of modern romance. A half-Korean New York rich
> girl turned takeover specialist for Daddy's company, Song Hawkins
> falls for Cable Jordan, a macho West Virginia mining manager. After a
> whirlwind wedding, she lasts four days in Cable's town of Highcoal,
> W.Va. (pop. 624), unable to rough it without her brand of cosmetics or
> low-fat meals. She likes Cable's house and artisan furniture, though,
> and she still loves Cable. After learning that her father has acquired
> the company that owns the Highcoal mine, Song returns to see for
> herself why the company isn't meeting quotas and signs on for beginner
> miner's training. As she encounters the camaraderies, rivalries,
> satisfactions and dangers of mining, Song works on solving a murder
> along with saving her marriage. Hickam's secondary
> characters?including­ a folksy wisdom-spouting preacher, a busty
> Botoxed ex-girlfriend, and a meticulous MSHA safety inspector?narrowly
> escape caricature by showing their human side during the climactic
> scene. Love may conquer all, Hickam suggests, but in a coal mine you
> also need good engineering.
> East of Eden by John Steinbeck (Paperback, $11.56)
> No writer is more quintessentially American than John Steinbeck. Born
> in 1902 in Salinas, California, Steinbeck attended Stanford University
> before working at a series of mostly blue-collar jobs and embarking on
> his literary career. Profoundly committed to social progress, he used
> his writing to raise issues of labor exploitation and the plight of
> the common man, penning some of the greatest American novels of the
> twentieth century and winning such prestigious awards as the Pulitzer
> Prize and the National Book Award. He received the Nobel Prize in
> 1962, "for his realistic and imaginative writings, combining as they
> do sympathetic humour and keen social perception." Today, more than
> thirty years after his death, he remains one of America's greatest
> writers and cultural figures.
> Eat Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert (Paperback, $8.25)
> Gilbert (The Last American Man) grafts the structure of romantic
> fiction upon the inquiries of reporting in this sprawling yet
> methodical travelogue of soul-searching and self-discovery. Plagued
> with despair after a nasty divorce, the author, in her early 30s,
> divides a year equally among three dissimilar countries, exploring her
> competing urges for earthly delights and divine transcendence. First,
> pleasure: savoring Italy's buffet of delights--the world's best pizza,
> free-flowing wine and dashing conversation partners--Gilbert consumes
> la dolce vita as spiritual succor. "I came to Italy pinched and thin,"
> she writes, but soon fills out in waist and soul. Then, prayer and
> ascetic rigor: seeking communion with the divine at a sacred ashram in
> India, Gilbert emulates the ways of yogis in grueling hours of
> meditation, struggling to still her churning mind. Finally, a
> balancing act in Bali, where Gilbert tries for equipoise "betwixt and
> between" realms, studies with a merry medicine man and plunges into a
> charged love affair. Sustaining a chatty, conspiratorial tone, Gilbert
> fully engages readers in the year's cultural and emotional
> tapestry--conveying rapture with infectious brio, recalling anguish
> with touching candor--as she details her exotic tableau with history,
> anecdote and impression.
> The Assault on Reason by Al Gore (Paperback, $10.88)
> The first question many people ask when hearing of a new book from Al
> Gore is, "Is it about the environment?" The answer is yes, but it's
> not (or, rather, not only) the kind of environment he wrote about in
> Earth in the Balance and of course painted such a vivid picture of in
> his Oscar-winning documentary (and companion book), An Inconvenient
> Truth. It's the political environment he's concerned about in The
> Assault on Reason: the way we debate and decide on the critical issues
> of the day. In an account that balances theoretical discussion of the
> foundations of democracy with a lacerating critique of the Bush
> administration, Gore argues that the marketplace of reasoned debate
> our country was founded on is being endangered by a variety of allied
> forces: the use of fear and the misuse of faith, the distractions of
> our entertainment culture, and the concentrations of power in the
> national media and the executive branch. In his essay and answers to
> our questions below, he introduces the crisis he sees, as well as the
> opportunity for its solution he envisions in the open forums of the
> Internet.
> --
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> This message was sent by Charis ([address removed]) from The
> Brookline Book Club Meetup Group[4].
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