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What would *you* like to read?

From: user 7.
Sent on: Thursday, April 12, 2012 10:05 AM

hello everybody

time to get your input and suggestions as we prepare to vote for future discussion titles. Evelyn emailed me some ideas for future book discussions a couple of months ago.

we have our next 2 books decided upon but can start to think about selecting the next couple...for June (fiction) and July (nonfiction)

in addition to Evelyn's suggestions, i will also suggest Nicholas Carr's The Shallows, which is UNC's summer reading pick for 2012. Also, looks like we could use more Fiction ideas...i wonder if anyone has read The Book Thief (2007)? The Art of Fielding, which made numerous best of lists for 2011 will be out in paperback by May. Please read blurbs and respond with any preferences and any other suggestions you might have so i can narrow down the vote to 2 or 3 titles. this isn't a vote but a discussion in the aim of making the selection for the next couple titles more participatory and to reflect the group's interests. please email me or post to discussion board in reply to this post if you have ideas for other titles or strong preferences or aversions to any on this list. :)



The Book Thief

by Markus Zusak

It’s just a small story really, about among other things: a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and quite a lot of thievery. . . .

Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement before he is marched to Dachau.

This is an unforgettable story about the ability of books to feed the soul.

The Art Of Fielding   

by Chad Harbach

The Art of Fielding, an appealingly goofy debut novel by Chad Harbach, is a baseball novel, cross-pollinated with an academic novel, all wrapped up in a coming-of-age novel. Our hero with a lot to learn, Henry Skrimshander, is recruited to play baseball at little Westish College on the shores of Lake Michigan. Westish's claim to distinction is its fleeting association with Herman Melville; thus, the baseball team is called the "Harpooners" and the college itself is "captained" by a tormented Melville scholar. As in Moby Dick, themes of forbidden love and destructive quests inform The Art of Fielding. Any novel that can make this reader care about the s-l-o-w-e-s-t game ever invented by man is a literary home run worth applauding.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

by Jonathan Safram Foer  

New York Times bestseller

A Best Book of the Year
Los Angeles TimesWashington Post Book WorldChicago TribuneSt. Louis Post-DispatchRocky Mountain News

“Energetic, inventive, and ambitious . . . an uplifting myth born of the sorrows of 9/11.” —Boston Globe

Jonathan Safran Foer emerged as one of the most original writers of his generation with his best-selling debut novel, Everything Is Illuminated. Now, with humor, tenderness, and awe, he confronts the traumas of our recent history.

Nine-year-old Oskar Schell has embarked on an urgent, secret mission that will take him through the five boroughs of New York. His goal is to find the lock that matches a mysterious key that belonged to his father, who died in the World Trade Center on the morning of September 11. This seemingly impossible task will bring Oskar into contact with survivors of all sorts on an exhilarating, affecting, often hilarious, and ultimately healing journey.

“Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is a miracle, a daybreak, a man on the moon. It's so impeccably imagined, so courageously executed, so everlastingly moving and fine.” —Baltimore Sun



Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention 

by Manning Marable  

"An extraordinary portrait of a man and his time. . . .A masterpiece."
-San Francisco Chronicle


The late Manning Marable's acclaimed biography of Malcolm X finally does justice to one of the most influential and controversial figures of twentieth-century American history. Filled with startling new information and shocking revelations, Malcolm X unfolds a sweeping story of race and class in America. Reaching into Malcolm's troubled youth, it traces a path from his parents' activism as followers of Marcus Garvey through his own work with the Nation of Islam and rise in the world of black nationalism, and culminates in the never-before-told true story of his assassination.Malcolm X is a stunning achievement, the definitive work on one of our greatest advocates for social change.

The Emporer of All Maladies 

by Siddhartha Mukerjee 

The Emperor of All Maladies is a magnificent, profoundly humane “biography” of cancer—from its first documented appearances thousands of years ago through the epic battles in the twentieth century to cure, control, and conquer it to a radical new understanding of its essence. Physician, researcher, and award-winning science writer, Siddhartha Mukherjee examines cancer with a cellular biologist’s precision, a historian’s perspective, and a biographer’s passion. The result is an astonishingly lucid and eloquent chronicle of a disease humans have lived with—and perished from—for more than five thousand years.

The story of cancer is a story of human ingenuity, resilience, and perseverance, but also of hubris, paternalism, and misperception. Mukherjee recounts centuries of discoveries, setbacks, victories, and deaths, told through the eyes of his predecessors and peers, training their wits against an infinitely resourceful adversary that, just three decades ago, was thought to be easily vanquished in an all-out “war against cancer.” The book reads like a literary thriller with cancer as the protagonist.

From the Persian Queen Atossa, whose Greek slave may have cut off her diseased breast, to the nineteenth-century recipients of primitive radiation and chemotherapy to Mukherjee’s own leukemia patient, Carla, The Emperor of All Maladies is about the people who have soldiered through fiercely demanding regimens in order to survive—and to increase our understanding of this iconic disease.

Riveting, urgent, and surprising, The Emperor of All Maladies provides a fascinating glimpse into the future of cancer treatments. It is an illuminating book that provides hope and clarity to those seeking to demystify cancer.

The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains

by Nicholas Carr

Finalist for the 2011 Pulitzer Prize in General Nonfiction: “Nicholas Carr has written a Silent Spring for the literary mind.”—Michael Agger,Slate

“Is Google making us stupid?” When Nicholas Carr posed that question, in a celebrated Atlantic Monthly cover story, he tapped into a well of anxiety about how the Internet is changing us. He also crystallized one of the most important debates of our time: As we enjoy the Net’s bounties, are we sacrificing our ability to read and think deeply? 

Now, Carr expands his argument into the most compelling exploration of the Internet’s intellectual and cultural consequences yet published. As he describes how human thought has been shaped through the centuries by “tools of the mind”—from the alphabet to maps, to the printing press, the clock, and the computer—Carr interweaves a fascinating account of recent discoveries in neuroscience by such pioneers as Michael Merzenich and Eric Kandel. Our brains, the historical and scientific evidence reveals, change in response to our experiences. The technologies we use to find, store, and share information can literally reroute our neural pathways. 

Building on the insights of thinkers from Plato to McLuhan, Carr makes a convincing case that every information technology carries an intellectual ethic—a set of assumptions about the nature of knowledge and intelligence. He explains how the printed book served to focus our attention, promoting deep and creative thought. In stark contrast, the Internet encourages the rapid, distracted sampling of small bits of information from many sources. Its ethic is that of the industrialist, an ethic of speed and efficiency, of optimized production and consumption—and now the Net is remaking us in its own image. We are becoming ever more adept at scanning and skimming, but what we are losing is our capacity for concentration, contemplation, and reflection. 

Part intellectual history, part popular science, and part cultural criticism, The Shallows sparkles with memorable vignettes—Friedrich Nietzsche wrestling with a typewriter, Sigmund Freud dissecting the brains of sea creatures, Nathaniel Hawthorne contemplating the thunderous approach of a steam locomotive—even as it plumbs profound questions about the state of our modern psyche. This is a book that will forever alter the way we think about media and our minds.


The Hare with Amber Eyes

by Edmund de Waal

An Economist Book of the Year       

Costa Book Award Winner for Biography    

Galaxy National Book Award Winner (New Writer of the Year Award)

Edmund de Waal is a world-famous ceramicist. Having spent thirty years making beautiful pots—which are then sold, collected, and handed on—he has a particular sense of the secret lives of objects. When he inherited a collection of 264 tiny Japanese wood and ivory carvings, called netsuke, he wanted to know who had touched and held them, and how the collection had managed to survive.

And so begins this extraordinarily moving memoir and detective story as de Waal discovers both the story of the netsuke and of his family, the Ephrussis, over five generations. A nineteenth-century banking dynasty in Paris and Vienna, the Ephrussis were as rich and respected as the Rothchilds. Yet by the end of the World War II, when the netsuke were hidden from the Nazis in Vienna, this collection of very small carvings was all that remained of their vast empire.

Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman Selected by the New York Times Book Review as one of the best books of 2011 Globe and Mail Best Books of the Year 2011 Title One of The Economist’s 2011 Books of the Year One of The Wall Steet Journal's Best Nonfiction Books of the Year 2011

Daniel Kahneman, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences for his seminal work in psychology that challenged the rational model of judgment and decision making, is one of our most important thinkers. His ideas have had a profound and widely regarded impact on many fields—including economics, medicine, and politics—but until now, he has never brought together his many years of research and thinking in one book.


In the highly anticipated Thinking, Fast and Slow, Kahneman takes us on a groundbreaking tour of the mind and explains the two systems that drive the way we think. System 1 is fast, intuitive, and emotional; System 2 is slower, more deliberative, and more logical. Kahneman exposes the extraordinary capabilities—and also the faults and biases—of fast thinking, and reveals the pervasive influence of intuitive impressions on our thoughts and behavior. The impact of loss aversion and overconfidence on corporate strategies, the difficulties of predicting what will make us happy in the future, the challenges of properly framing risks at work and at home, the profound effect of cognitive biases on everything from playing the stock market to planning the next vacation—each of these can be understood only by knowing how the two systems work together to shape our judgments and decisions.


Engaging the reader in a lively conversation about how we think, Kahneman reveals where we can and cannot trust our intuitions and how we can tap into the benefits of slow thinking. He offers practical and enlightening insights into how choices are made in both our business and our personal lives—and how we can use different techniques to guard against the mental glitches that often get us into trouble. Thinking, Fast and Slow will transform the way you think about thinking.



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