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Pensive Faust Wellington Book club Message Board › Nominations for Reading List revamp

Nominations for Reading List revamp

user 11004199
Wellington, NZ
Post #: 10
One of the things that came up during the voting for the books on Thursday was a general consensus that the reading list has grown a bit stale. I know we do keep adding to it, but there are some that no-one wants to read and we have decided to delete those titles that receive no votes. Many were nominated by people that no longer attend the meetups.

The group proposed that we start again with a fresh list, asking for nominations via the discussion board and a closing date (say before the next meeting). Perhaps if the suggestions could be accompanied by your reason for nomination and/or a brief synopsis.

As an example: 'The Forrests' by Emily Perkins (NZ author) was a controversial choice for the Listener Book Club in May. Critics gave it glowing reviews, but their real-life book group didn't like it much. Opinions ranged from 'depressing' and 'too much descriptive prose without enough story' to 'an ordinary life is made compelling. Full of beautiful imagery; a novel to be savoured.' It has an unusual episodic structure, a sort of cinematic kaleidoscope that tracks Dorothy Forrest's life journey. I loved it and because it creates polarised opinions, I think it would be an excellent book for discussion.

Another suggestion was that we could divide the list into themes: NZ Authors, Books made into movies, Classics, Booker Prize Winners, non-fiction etc.

Also it is probably best to have only one title from each author (even if we do seem to have a bit of a thing for Alan Hollinghurst, Peter Carey and Hilary Mantel).

Of course if there is a title on the list that someone really want to retain, then you are welcome to re-nominate it.

So nominate away please.
user 11004199
Wellington, NZ
Post #: 11
I'm going to start the ball rolling with my nomination:

The Siege of Krishnapur by J.G. Farrell

Based on the Siege of Lucknow, which occurred during the First War of Indian Independence, (also known as the Indian Mutiny) in 1857. Farrell's descriptions of the life inside the British Residency are simultaneously horrifying and blackly humorous. Beautifully written, unforgettable characters, and a cracking story, it won the Booker Prize in 1973 and has been on my TBR list for a while.
Alex K.
user 12226140
Group Organizer
Wellington, NZ
Post #: 44
My nomination is;

'Sweet Tooth' by Ian McEwan

A new novel from a well acclaimed author. Set in the 1970s and featuring a young woman who is recruited by MI6. Exploring the worlds of literature and authorship, as well as Cold War espionage, it's a witty story of betrayal and intrigue which will appeal to fans of "Atonement".

Serena, a compulsive reader of novels, is sent on a ‘secret mission’ which brings her into the literary world of Tom Haley, a promising young writer. First she loves his stories, then she begins to love the man. Can she maintain the fiction of her undercover life? And who is inventing whom? To answer these questions, Serena must abandon the first rule of espionage – trust no one.

more here
A former member
Post #: 1
As I never do anything by halves I have included a few suggestions from different genres

The Gift of Rain by Tan Twan Eng
Penang, 1939. Sixteen-year-old Philip Hutton is a loner. Half English, half Chinese and feeling neither, he discovers a sense of belonging in an unexpected friendship with Hayato Endo, a Japanese diplomat. Philip shows his new friend around his adored island of Penang, and in return Endo trains him in the art and discipline of aikido. But such knowledge comes at a terrible price. The enigmatic Endo is bound by disciplines of his own and when the Japanese invade Malaya, threatening to destroy Philip's family and everything he loves, he realises that his trusted sensei - to whom he owes absolute loyalty - has been harbouring a devastating secret. Philip must risk everything in an attempt to save those he has placed in mortal danger and discover who and what he really is.

I know this much is true by Wally Lamb
Dominick Birdsey's entire life has been compromised by Thomas, the paranoid schizophrenic twin brother he both loves and resents. The brothers are physical mirror images who grow into distinct yet connected entities in small-town Connecticut. From childhood, Dominic fights for separation in a house of fear. But his talent for survival comes at enormous personal cost. And it will be put to the ultimate test when his brother commits an unthinkable act that threatens the tenuous balance of both his and Dominick’s life.

To save himself, Dominick must face the pain of his past and the dark secrets he has locked within himself. He will have to search for the courage to forgive, and finally to rebuild himself beyond the haunted shadow of his twin. From anger through confusion to resolution, Dominick’s journey will leave no reader untouched.
(This one is very long)

Sister by Rosamund Lupton
Nothing can break the bond between sisters …When Beatrice gets a frantic call in the middle of Sunday lunch to say that her younger sister, Tess, is missing, she boards the first flight home to London. But as she learns about the circumstances surrounding her sister's disappearance, she is stunned to discover how little she actually knows of her sister's life – and unprepared for the terrifying truths she must now face.

The police, Beatrice's fiancé and even their mother accept they have lost Tess but Beatrice refuses to give up on her. So she embarks on a dangerous journey to discover the truth, no matter the cost.

Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith
A terrifying evocation of a paranoid world where no one can be trusted. A surprising, unexpected story of love and family, of hope and resilience. CHILD 44 is a thriller unlike any you have ever read. "There is no crime." Stalin's Soviet Union strives to be a paradise for its workers, providing for all of their needs. One of its fundamental pillars is that its citizens live free from the fear of ordinary crime and criminals. But in this society, millions do live in fear . . . of the State. Death is a whisper away. The mere suspicion of ideological disloyalty-owning a book from the decadent West, the wrong word at the wrong time-sends millions of innocents into the Gulags or to their executions.
(I read this one some time ago and remember it being quite good)
James S.
user 13005252
Wellington, NZ
Post #: 9
"The Dinner" by Herman Koch.
Extract from Daily Telegraph review:

Paul Lohman has a problem. His 15-year-old son, Michel, has done something bad. Something really bad. And a horrified nation is watching footage of it looped on the evening news, frustrated that the images are too grainy to identify the culprits. But they’re not too grainy for Paul, of course; he knows that it’s Michel, and Michel’s cousin, Rick. Which is doubly complicated because Rick’s father, Serge, is Paul’s detested elder brother. And he’s also a politician. And not just any politician: according to the polls he’s going to be the next prime minister of the Netherlands.

All of which means things need to be sorted and fast, which is what the brothers are trying to do, along with their wives, over the meal at a fancy restaurant which forms the backdrop to Herman Koch’s breakthrough novel, The Dinner, published to considerable fanfare in his native Holland and now ably translated into English by Sam Garrett.
user 12896769
Wellington, NZ
Post #: 66
What about Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell - The novel consists of six nested stories that take the reader from the remote South Pacific in the nineteenth century to a distant, post-apocalyptic future. Each tale is revealed to be a story that is read (or observed) by the main character in the next. All stories but the last are interrupted at some moment, and after the sixth story concludes at the center of the book, the novel "goes back" in time, "closing" each story as the book progresses in terms of pages but regresses in terms of the historical period in which the action takes place. Eventually, readers end where they started, with Adam Ewing in the Pacific Ocean, circa 1850.

winner of all sorts of awards and film adaptation is coming
user 12896769
Wellington, NZ
Post #: 67
and how about a memoir 'Reading Lolita in Tehran' by Azar Nafisi
Every Thursday morning for two years in the Islamic Republic of Iran, a bold and inspired teacher named Azar Nafisi secretly gathered seven of her most committed female students to read forbidden Western classics. As Islamic morality squads staged arbitrary raids in Tehran, fundamentalists seized hold of the universities, and a blind censor stifled artistic expression, the girls in Azar Nafisi's living room risked removing their veils and immersed themselves in the worlds of Jane Austen, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Henry James, and Vladimir Nabokov. In this extraordinary memoir, their stories become intertwined with the ones they are reading. Reading Lolita in Tehran is a remarkable exploration of resilience in the face of tyranny and a celebration of the liberating power of literature.
user 12896769
Wellington, NZ
Post #: 68
and a cult book Against Nature ( A Rebours) by Joris-Karl Huysmans

A wildly original fin-de-siècle novel, Against Nature follows its sole character, Des Esseintes, a decadent, ailing aristocrat who retreats to an isolated villa where he indulges his taste for luxury and excess. Veering between nervous excitability and debilitating ennui, he gluts his aesthetic appetites with classical literature and art, exotic jewels (with which he fatally encrusts the shell of his tortoise), rich perfumes, and a kaleidoscope of sensual experiences. The original handbook of decadence, Against Nature exploded “like a grenade” (in the words of its author) and has enjoyed a cult readership from its publication to the present day.
A former member
Post #: 1
My nomination is Great House by Nicole Krauss. Here is a synopsis:

For twenty-five years, a reclusive American novelist has been writing at the desk she inherited from a young Chilean poet who disappeared at the hands of Pinochet’s secret police; one day a girl claiming to be the poet’s daughter arrives to take it away, sending the writer’s life reeling. Across the ocean, in the leafy suburbs of London, a man caring for his dying wife discovers, among her papers, a lock of hair that unravels a terrible secret. In Jerusalem, an antiques dealer slowly reassembles his father’s study, plundered by the Nazis in Budapest in 1944.

Connecting these stories is a desk of many drawers that exerts a power over those who possess it or have given it away. As the narrators of Great House make their confessions, the desk takes on more and more meaning, and comes finally to stand for all that has been taken from them, and all that binds them to what has disappeared.
user 11004199
Wellington, NZ
Post #: 12
Since the silent majority are being reticent, I'm going to nominate two more books.

Wise Children by Angela Carter: Dora and Nora Chance are a famous song-and-dance team of the British music halls. Billed as The Lucky Chances, the sisters are the illegitimate and unacknowledged daughters of Sir Melchoir Hazard, the greatest Shakespearean actor of his day. At once ribald and sentimental, glittery and tender, this rambunctious family saga is Angela Carter at her bewitching best.

Silver: Return to Treasure Island by Andrew Motion
This book has everything: pirates, mystery, seafaring, romance, and botanising wrapped together into one beautifully written package.
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