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Paradise City Readers Message Board › Reading List for 2014-2015

Reading List for 2014-2015

Group Organizer
Leeds, MA
Post #: 12
Hey Readers!

Just a quick reminder that our annual book-choosing event will be in March, ahead of our discussion of Wild.

We're taking nominations from members so if there are books you'd like to suggest for the group, please let us know. We'll put everything into a list, and then vote at the March meeting.

A couple of guidelines:

We have found that 400 pages is about the upper limit on number of pages that work for our group.

The library needs to be able to get enough books for us via interlibrary loan. So we are not able to get books that are quite new, or otherwise "hot" titles.

Other than that, we welcome suggestions from all genres.

Thanks, everyone!
Ruth Ann O.
Northampton, MA
Post #: 1
Hi Everyone!

Thanks, Annie, for mentioning the "Bulletin Board". I didn't even know it was there!

You mentioned that you would like some Science Fiction suggestions. I have four. All of these have lots of interlibrary copies. So here they are!

"The Left Hand of Darkness" by Ursula K. LeGuin, 320 Pages
An ambassador from the League of Worlds, known as "the Ekuman" arrives on the planet, Gethen, to try to get their goverment to join. The Gethenians have some interesting characteristics, one of them being that they are androgynous, but are capable of being either male or female, depending on various external circumstances. Of course, complications arise for the ambassador, and he has to make a mad dash across the planet, accompanied by one of the Gethenians. It is a wonderful book, but I read it years ago, so I don't remember any of it. If the group picks it, I will be in essence reading it again for the first time!

"Childhood's End" by Arthur C. Clarke, 224 pages.
Just as we are on the verge of launching a rocket to make our first interplanetary voyage, we are invaded by a group of aliens known as "the Overlords". The Overlords proceed to straighten things out on Earth in pretty short order, eliminating the behaviors associated with nationalism, war and all that bad stuff. Nation states are eliminated; there is a single world government. For the first time in human history, everyone has enough to eat, is healthy, and lives a good, albeit staid and a bit boring, life. But, of course, the Overlords have an agenda and a reason for doing all of this. It is not what you would necessarily think! The last quarter of the book will surprise you.

"Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" by Philip K. Dick, 256 pages.
The movie, "Blade Runner" was based on this book. I have not seen the movie; I like the book too much, and I understand that there is not too much correspondence between the two. A good portion of the Earth has been destroyed by atomic war. There is a lot of fallout and sickness, and people are leaving the Earth for Mars as quickly as they can. There are not a lot of people left. There are, however, a number of androids running around, some of whom arrived from Mars (they were treated like slaves there). Rick Deckard's job is to go around identifying androids and "retiring" them. The problem is that they look like, and act a great deal like, human beings. This is the "Blade Runner" part of the book, but there is a lot more going on than that. While hunting down the androids, Mr. Deckard goes through a lot of changes, and we learn a great deal about his dystopian world.

"The Man in the High Castle" by Philip K. Dick, 288 pages.
An alternate history in which the U.S. lost World War II and is now occupied by the Germans and the Japanese. Slavery is legal once again. Jews hide under assumed names. The Japanese control the western part of the U.S., which is where most of the story takes place (the Germans control the east and the Rocky Mountain states are a buffer area). The book is told from the viewpoints of a number of characters. Key to the novel is a story within-a-story, a fictional alternate history novel in which the Allies *won* WWII. Being banned by the Germans, this work has attracted a lot of readers and provokes interestingly different reactions from characters. Yet, it's not the same as our history. The author is "the man in the high castle", and one of the characters is searching for him.
Ruth Ann O.
Northampton, MA
Post #: 2
Now on to the "quality" stuff. All these books are available in sufficient quantities through the interlibrary system.

"Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books" by Azar Nafisi, 368 pages.
For two years before she left Iran in 1997, Nafisi gathered seven young women at her house every Thursday morning to read and discuss forbidden works of Western literature. They were all former students whom she had taught at university. Some came from conservative and religious families, others were progressive and secular; several had spent time in jail. They were shy and uncomfortable at first, unaccustomed to being asked to speak their minds, but soon they began to open up and to speak more freely, not only about the novels they were reading but also about themselves, their dreams and disappointments. Intertwined with the narrative about the meetings are Ms. Nafisi's experiences teaching English Literature in a couple of Tehran universities, life in Iran during the early days of the Khomeini government, etc. , and her interpretations of various western works including "Lolita", "Washington Square" and "Daisy Miller" by Henry James, among others.

"Claire of the Sea Light" by Edwidge Danticat, 256 pages.
Claire Limyè Lanmè—Claire of the Sea Light—is an enchanting child born into love and tragedy in Ville Rose, Haiti. Claire’s mother died in childbirth, and on each of her birthdays Claire is taken by her father, Nozias, to visit her mother’s grave. Nozias wonders if he should give away his young daughter to a local shopkeeper, who lost a child of her own, so that Claire can have a better life. But on the night of Claire’s seventh birthday, when at last he makes the wrenching decision to do so, she disappears. As Nozias and others look for her, painful secrets, haunting memories, and startling truths are unearthed among the community of men and women whose individual stories connect to Claire, to her parents, and to the town itself.

"On the Come Up: A Novel, Based on a True Story", 320 pages.
Thirteen-year-old AnnMarie Walker dreams of a world beyond Far Rockaway, where the sway of the neighborhood keeps her tied to old ideas about success. While attending a school for pregnant teens, AnnMarie comes across a flyer advertising movie auditions in Manhattan. Astonishingly, improbably, and four months before she’s due to give birth—she lands a lead role. For a time, AnnMarie soars—acting for the camera, flying to the Sundance Film Festival, seeing her face on-screen. But when the film fades from view and the realities of her life set in, AnnMarie’s grit and determination are the only tools left to keep her moving forward.

"Cartwheel" by Jennifer DuBois (a local girl!), 384 pages.
When Lily Hayes arrives in Buenos Aires for her semester abroad, she is enchanted by everything she encounters: the colorful buildings, the street food, the handsome, elusive man next door. Her studious roommate Katy is a bit of a bore, but Lily didn’t come to Argentina to hang out with other Americans. Five weeks later, Katy is found brutally murdered in their shared home, and Lily is the prime suspect. But who is Lily Hayes? It depends on who’s asking. As the case takes shape—revealing deceptions, secrets, and suspicious DNA—Lily appears alternately sinister and guileless through the eyes of those around her: the media, her family, the man who loves her and the man who seeks her conviction. (Seems to be based on the Amanda Knox case!)

Group Organizer
Leeds, MA
Post #: 13
Thanks for getting us started, Ruth Ann!
user 9871303
Northampton, MA
Post #: 1
I'm recommending only one for now. I haven't even checked to see if it's been read in the group before. Two friends in CA read it in their book groups and it was well received.
"The Light Between Oceans"
I believe it is Thomas Stedman.
Thanks, everyone!
A former member
Post #: 1
I like to use Goodreads to manage my queue of books that I want to remember to read. My list is here: https://www.goodreads...­

It might be a great tool for us to use to collate 'to read' books. I basically love books of all genres, so I'm excited to hear what the selections are for this upcoming year! I'm out of town during the meetup where we pick books, so I won't be able to help make selections this year :( I trust you guys, though!
user 12132650
Bronx, NY
Post #: 2
Here are some on my list (summaries copied from Goodreads):

RJ Palacio
This is the 2014 'Vermont Reads' book
I won't describe what I look like. Whatever you're thinking, it's probably worse.
August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a facial deformity that prevented him from going to a mainstream school—until now. He's about to start 5th grade at Beecher Prep, and if you've ever been the new kid then you know how hard that can be. The thing is Auggie's just an ordinary kid, with an extraordinary face. But can he convince his new classmates that he's just like them, despite appearances?
R. J. Palacio has written a spare, warm, uplifting story that will have readers laughing one minute and wiping away tears the next. With wonderfully realistic family interactions (flawed, but loving), lively school scenes, and short chapters, Wonder is accessible to readers of all levels.

Fire in the Blood
Irène Némirovsky
From the celebrated author of the international bestseller Suite Française, a newly discovered novel, a story of passion and long-kept secrets, set against the background of a rural French village in the years before World War II.Written in 1941, Fire in the Blood – only now assembled in its entirety – teems with the intertwined lives of an insular French village in the years before the war, when "peace" was less important as a political state than as a coveted personal condition: the untroubled pinnacle of happiness. At the center of the novel is Silvio, who has returned to this small town after years away. As his narration unfolds, we are given an intimate picture of the loves and infidelities, the scandals, the youthful ardor and regrets of age that tie Silvio to the long-guarded secrets of the past.

The Dinner
Herman Koch
Over one meal, two families struggle with the hardest decision of their lives. On an Amsterdam summer evening, two couples are united by their sons, aged 15, their horrific joint deed. Behind banal polite discourse in a restaurant, knives are sharpened, friendship disintegrates. How far will adults go to protect those they love?

Red Rising
Pierce Brown
(This is probably too new, depending on how popular it becomes)
Darrow is a Helldiver, one of a thousand men and women who live in the vast caves beneath the surface of Mars. Generations of Helldivers have spent their lives toiling to mine the precious elements that will allow the planet to be terraformed. Just knowing that one day people will be able to walk the surface of the planet is enough to justify their sacrifice. Until the day Darrow learns that it is all a lie. Mars is habitable - and indeed has been inhabited for generations by a class of people calling themselves the Golds.
user 12132650
Bronx, NY
Post #: 3
The Fault in Our Stars
John Green
Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel's story is about to be completely rewritten.
Ruth Ann O.
Northampton, MA
Post #: 3
Some more book suggestions:

"Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore" by Robin Sloan, 288 Pages.

Recession has shuffled Clay Jannon out of his life as a San Francisco Web-design drone – and serendipity, coupled with sheer curiosity, has landed him a new job working the night shift at Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. But after just a few days, Clay begins to realize that this store is even more curious than the name suggests. There are only a few customers, but they come in repeatedly and never seem to actually buy anything, instead they simply borrow impossibly obscure volumes from strange corners of the store, all according to some elaborate, long-standing arrangement with the gnomic Mr. Penumbra. The store must be a front for something larger, Clay concludes, and soon he’s embarked on a complex analysis of the customers’ behaviour and roped his friends into helping to figure out just what’s going on. But once they bring their findings to Mr. Penumbra, it turns out the secrets extend far outside the walls of the bookstore...

"In the Time of the Butterflies" by Julia Alvarez, 339 Pages.

It is November 25, 1960, and three beautiful sisters have been found near their wrecked Jeep at the bottom of a 150-foot cliff on the north coast of the Dominican Republic. The official state newspaper reports their deaths as accidental. It does not mention that a fourth sister lives. Nor does it explain that the sisters were among the leading opponents of Gen. Rafael Leonidas Trujillo’s dictatorship. It doesn’t have to. Everybody knows of Las Mariposas—“The Butterflies.”
In this extraordinary novel, the voices of all four sisters—Minerva, Patria, María Teresa, and the survivor, Dedé—speak across the decades to tell their own stories, from hair ribbons and secret crushes to gunrunning and prison torture, and to describe the everyday horrors of life under Trujillo’s rule. Through the art and magic of Julia Alvarez’s imagination, the martyred Butterflies live again in this novel of courage and love, and the human cost of political oppression.

"The Syringa Tree: A Novel" by Pamela Gien, 262 Pages.

In this heartrending and inspiring novel set against the gorgeous, vast landscape of South Africa under apartheid, award-winning playwright Pamela Gien tells the story of two families - one black, one white - separated by racism, connected by love.
Even at the age of six, lively, inquisitive Elizabeth Grace senses she's a child of privilege, "a lucky fish." Lizzie's closest ally and greatest love is her Xhosa nanny, Salamina. Deeper and more elemental than any traditional friendship, their fierce devotion is charged and complicated by Lizzie's mother, who suffers from creeping melancholy; by the stresses of Lizzie's father's medical practice, which is segregated by law; and by the violence, injustice, and intoxicating beauty of their country. To soothe her worries Lizzie escapes into the sheltering arms of the lilac-blooming syringa tree growing behind the family's suburban Johannesburg home.
In the social and racial upheavals of the 1960s, Lizzie's eyes open to the terror and inhumanity that paralyze all the nation's cultures - Xhosa, Zulu, Jew, English, Boer. Pass laws requiring blacks to carry permission papers for white areas and stringent curfews have briefly created an orderly state - but an anxious one. Yet Lizzie's home harbors its own set of rules, with hushed midnight gatherings, clandestine transactions, and the girl's special task of protecting Salamina's newborn child - a secret that, because of the new rules, must never be mentioned outside the walls of the house.
As the months pass, the contagious spirit of change sends those once underground into the streets to challenge the ruling authority. And when this unrest reaches a social and personal climax, the unthinkable will happen and forever change Lizzie's view of the world. (This novel was also made into an off-Broadway play in 2001.)

"Mister Pip" by Lloyd Jones, 256 Pages

On a copper-rich tropical island shattered by war, where the teachers have fled with most everyone else, only one white man chooses to stay behind: the eccentric Mr. Watts, object of much curiosity and scorn, who sweeps out the ruined schoolhouse and begins to read to the children each day from Charles Dickens’s classic "Great Expectations".
So begins this rare, original story about the abiding strength that imagination, once ignited, can provide. As artillery echoes in the mountains, thirteen-year-old Matilda and her peers are riveted by the adventures of a young orphan named Pip in a city called London, a city whose contours soon become more real than their own blighted landscape. As Mr. Watts says, “A person entranced by a book simply forgets to breathe.” Soon come the rest of the villagers, initially threatened, finally inspired to share tales of their own that bring alive the rich mythology of their past. But in a ravaged place where even children are forced to live by their wits and daily survival is the only objective, imagination can be a dangerous thing.
Ruth Ann O.
Northampton, MA
Post #: 4
Hi, everybody! This is my final set of suggested books, I promise!

"Sempre Susan: A Memoir of Susan Sontag" by Sigrid Nunez, 140 Pages.

Written by a novelist who lived with Susan Sontag's son, this memoir of the writer responsible for the avant-garde Against Interpretation depicts her as a magnetic, outsized personality and a polarizing presence who made being an intellectual a glamorous occupation.

"The Septembers of Shiraz" by Dalia Sofer, 340 Pages.

In the aftermath of the Iranian revolution, rare-gem dealer Isaac Amin is arrested, wrongly accused of being a spy. Terrified by his disappearance, his family must reconcile a new world of cruelty and chaos with the collapse of everything they have known.
As Isaac navigates the tedium and terrors of prison, forging tenuous trusts, his wife feverishly searches for him, suspecting, all the while, that their once-trusted housekeeper has turned on them and is now acting as an informer. And as his daughter, in a childlike attempt to stop the wave of baseless arrests, engages in illicit activities, his son, sent to New York before the rise of the Ayatollahs, struggles to find happiness even as he realizes that his family may soon be forced to embark on a journey of incalculable danger.

"The Tiger's Wife" by Tea Obreht, 337 Pages.

In a Balkan country mending from war, Natalia, a young doctor, is compelled to unravel the mysterious circumstances surrounding her beloved grandfather’s recent death. Searching for clues, she turns to his worn copy of The Jungle Book and the stories he told her of his encounters over the years with “the deathless man.” But most extraordinary of all is the story her grandfather never told her—the legend of the tiger’s wife.

"The Lowland" by by Jhumpa Lahiri, 339 Pages.

From the Pulitzer Prize-winning, best-selling author of "The Namesake" comes a new novel, set in both India and America, that expands the scope and range of one of our most dazzling storytellers: a tale of two brothers bound by tragedy, a fiercely brilliant woman haunted by her past, a country torn by revolution, and a love that lasts long past death.
Born just fifteen months apart, Subhash and Udayan Mitra are inseparable brothers, one often mistaken for the other in the Calcutta neighborhood where they grow up. But they are also opposites, with gravely different futures ahead. It is the 1960s, and Udayan—charismatic and impulsive—finds himself drawn to the Naxalite movement, a rebellion waged to eradicate inequity and poverty; he will give everything, risk all, for what he believes. Subhash, the dutiful son, does not share his brother’s political passion; he leaves home to pursue a life of scientific research in a quiet, coastal corner of America.
But when Subhash learns what happened to his brother in the lowland outside their family’s home, he goes back to India, hoping to pick up the pieces of a shattered family, and to heal the wounds Udayan left behind—including those seared in the heart of his brother’s wife.

"Harvest" by by Jim Crace, 240 Pages.

On the morning after harvest, the inhabitants of a remote English village awaken looking forward to a hard-earned day of rest and feasting at their landowner's table. But the sky is marred by two conspicuous columns of smoke, replacing pleasurable anticipation with alarm and suspicion.
One smoke column is the result of an overnight fire that has damaged the master's outbuildings. The second column rises from the wooded edge of the village, sent up by newcomers to announce their presence. In the minds of the wary villagers a mere coincidence of events appears to be unlikely, with violent confrontation looming as the unavoidable outcome. Meanwhile, another newcomer has recently been spotted taking careful notes and making drawings of the land. It is his presence more than any other that will threaten the village's entire way of life.

"We Need New Names" by by NoViolet Bulawayo, 296 Pages.

Follows 10-year-old Zimbabwe native, Darling, as she escapes the closed schools and paramilitary police control of her homeland in search of opportunity and freedom with an aunt in America.

"We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves" by by Karen Joy Fowler, 310 Pages.

Coming of age in middle America, eighteen-year-old Rosemary evaluates how her entire youth was defined by the presence and forced removal of an endearing chimpanzee who was secretly regarded as a family member and who Rosemary loved as a sister.

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