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View Poll Results: Which award winning book shall we read for June 2013?
Memoirs of a Fox Hunting Man by Siegfried Sassoon 9 18.37%
The Orphan Master's Son by Adam Johnson 9 18.37%
The Swerve: How the World Became Modern by Stephen Greenblatt 16 32.65%
The Tea Lords by Hella Haasse 14 28.57%
Among Others by Jo Walton 13 26.53%
More Than Human by Theodore Sturgeon 6 12.24%
The Giver by Lois Lowry 15 30.61%
Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami 11 22.45%
American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson by Joseph J. Ellis 8 16.33%
Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri 7 14.29%
Multiple Choice Poll. Voters: 49. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 05-23-2013, 08:22 AM   #16
WT Sharpe
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RE: The Swerve

As far as Kirkpatrick vs. Greenblatt goes, Kirkpatrick may have a point. It's impossible to know without reading the book. What is known is high-profile authors are bound to draw critics, and with that book having been awarded both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize, there's no way he could escape criticism.

On the other hand, how many Pulitzer Prizes and National Book Awards has Harold Kirkpatrick won?

These are the biggest of the biggies; the major majors.

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Old 05-23-2013, 08:23 AM   #17
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Ooopps, that was not an easy choice.
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Old 05-23-2013, 09:45 AM   #18
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Only eighteen voters in, but I have a hard time remembering any vote where at least one of two of the nominations didn't fall into the none category. Even my nomination has three votes. I'm schocked!
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Old 05-23-2013, 11:34 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by sun surfer View Post
I'm interested in The Giver, but I went to read more about it on its Amazon page and found that it is the first in a series. Series, series everywhere. With The Giver I was looking forward to a single book with a complete resolution, but still, I am considering whether to vote for it and either way I will read it if it wins.
There isn't any resolution until the third book, sort of. It was very frustrating to finish the first one and find out that the second was not a direct continuation of the story.

This is a good opportunity to sample some Pulitzer winners. The controversy around The Swerve makes me want to read it, and Interpreter of Maladies is something I've wanted an excuse to read, so those got my vote.
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Old 05-23-2013, 12:01 PM   #20
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I've been somewhat let down by the last couple of Pulitzer Prizer winners I've read. Sometimes I think the shiny stickers on bookstores are warning signs for me to stay away from this book.
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Old 05-23-2013, 01:01 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by WT Sharpe View Post
RE: The Swerve

As far as Kirkpatrick vs. Greenblatt goes, Kirkpatrick may have a point. It's impossible to know without reading the book. What is known is high-profile authors are bound to draw critics, and with that book having been awarded both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize, there's no way he could escape criticism.

On the other hand, how many Pulitzer Prizes and National Book Awards has Harold Kirkpatrick won?

These are the biggest of the biggies; the major majors.
The book could be very well written and very engaging even with a slanted premise, and the judges for the Pulitzer and National Book Award could have been taken in by the premise without realising that it was slanted. If I hadn't read the criticism on it first I may have been too.

It doesn't fit together well - that the book won two such prestigious awards and yet it appears to have a very biased premise. It seems to me that Kirkpatrick and other reviewers do have a point, and one doesn't need to read the book to decide, because the premise is laid straight out in blurbs about the book - that the discovery of a forgotten manuscript by Lucretius basically single-handedly started the Renaissance. Take this blurb about the book for instance:

Quote:
One of the world's most celebrated scholars, Stephen Greenblatt has crafted both an innovative work of history and a thrilling story of discovery, in which one manuscript, plucked from a thousand years of neglect, changed the course of human thought and made possible the world as we know it.

Nearly six hundred years ago, a short, genial, cannily alert man in his late thirties took a very old manuscript off a library shelf, saw with excitement what he had discovered, and ordered that it be copied. That book was the last surviving manuscript of an ancient Roman philosophical epic, On the Nature of Things, by Lucretius—a beautiful poem of the most dangerous ideas: that the universe functioned without the aid of gods, that religious fear was damaging to human life, and that matter was made up of very small particles in eternal motion, colliding and swerving in new directions.

The copying and translation of this ancient book-the greatest discovery of the greatest book-hunter of his age-fueled the Renaissance, inspiring artists such as Botticelli and thinkers such as Giordano Bruno; shaped the thought of Galileo and Freud, Darwin and Einstein; and had a revolutionary influence on writers such as Montaigne and Shakespeare and even Thomas Jefferson.
It's a wonderful blurb and had me hooked - until I realised that its assertion may not be true, or at least overstated. If I didn't believe that Greenblatt really believed it then I might even call it possibly disingenuous. The best I can make of it, this seems to be a very intelligent and very good writer who hit upon an interesting but flawed idea and with zeal and fervour decided to write a book about it, and perhaps subconsciously employed a selection bias in choosing what to include in the book to support his premise.

However, you make some great points and regardless I think the discussion thread for the book could be very interesting.
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Old 05-23-2013, 01:10 PM   #22
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By the way, On the Nature of Things by Lucretius is a very remarkably modern sounding book. It's quite enjoyable and not at all difficult. It shows that that at least some folks in ancient Greece were using their heads for something besides a place to hang laurel reefs.
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Old 05-23-2013, 02:40 PM   #23
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Re: The Kirkpatrick vs. Greenblatt argument. It certainly does not seem to have hurt its chances in the poll. The argument alone seems like it could spark some good discussion.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sun surfer View Post

. . .

It's a wonderful blurb and had me hooked - until I realised that its assertion may not be true, or at least overstated. If I didn't believe that Greenblatt really believed it then I might even call it possibly disingenuous. The best I can make of it, this seems to be a very intelligent and very good writer who hit upon an interesting but flawed idea and with zeal and fervour decided to write a book about it, and perhaps subconsciously employed a selection bias in choosing what to include in the book to support his premise.

However, you make some great points and regardless I think the discussion thread for the book could be very interesting.
If true it would not be the first non-fiction book I will have read where the author over stated a point of fact in order to have a compelling core around which to build the entire premise of the book. It is the sort of thing that can turn a dry historical book into an popular bestseller that wins book awards.

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Old 05-23-2013, 02:52 PM   #24
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There have been many crappy books that have been popular bestsellers. Maybe not winning awards though.
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Old 05-23-2013, 02:59 PM   #25
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I like many of the books and have put most of them on my TBR list. I have been thinking and thinking how to vote. In the end I gave many books a vote. My thoughts about these books:

No to memoirs of a fox hunting man: I have to wait a bit before reading about fox hunting again; being a vegetarian and somewhat opposed against any use of animals by mankind. I know...arbitrary.

Yes to the Orphan Master's Son: I cannot resist "a riveting portrait of a world rife with hunger, corruption, and casual cruelty but also camaraderie, stolen moments of beauty, and love'. I must read this for myself.

Yes to The Swerve: I have been studying the medieval period somewhat and am curious what kind of new light this sheds on my thoughts about this period.

Yes to the Tea Lords: I read several books by Hella Haasse and she is truly a Grand Old Lady, who herself lived in the colonies as a child and then came to know the mystical world of it as well.

Yes to Among others, 'a spellbinding tale of escape from ancient enchantment' and to More than Human, which description somehow made me think of the films of the Matrix. That's the first thing that came to my mind; why I don't know.

No to the Giver; I have the feeling that, although the story appeals to me, it doesn't give me enough 'to chew' on. I like to reflect on books.

Yes to Hard-boiled wonderland. I read all Murakami last year and this is a favorite of mine.

No to Jefferson, as I already read some books about this excellent statesman.

Yes to Interpreter of Maladies, as I think I will like to compare this interpretation of maladies from India to the western one.

Last edited by desertblues; 05-23-2013 at 03:09 PM. Reason: grammar and haste
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Old 05-23-2013, 03:47 PM   #26
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Yes to Hard-boiled wonderland. I read all Murakami last year and this is a favorite of mine.
I have to ask. Is IQ84 worth the page count? I've read three Murakami novels (The Windup Bird Chronicle; Sputnick Sweetheart; South of the Border, West of the Sun) and have a couple more on the radar right now.
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Old 05-23-2013, 04:07 PM   #27
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I have to ask. Is IQ84 worth the page count? I've read three Murakami novels (The Windup Bird Chronicle; Sputnick Sweetheart; South of the Border, West of the Sun) and have a couple more on the radar right now.
It was about a year ago that I read IQ84 and this is what I wrote while reading this book:
------
(I am at page 200.)
For some reason this is the first of Murakami's books for me. I find this story strange: in the sense that the persons in it seem to be alienated from the world they live in. That is; if this is the world they live in.
It is written in a crisp style, which adds a certain distance, a kind of relativization of things. All things are interwoven, it seems; like a tightly woven fabric.

(page 400 now.)
I'm liking the book more and more, because it puzzles me. Obsessive, but absent, parents seem to be a constant, demolizing, factor in the life of the protagonists. It seems as if they are manipulated; by other people, by their reaction on their past and by something in their own soul. In how many ways can one be cruel?
------
And the rest is history...I read about all his books in that year. Yes, I would recommend it.
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Old 05-23-2013, 05:03 PM   #28
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Dang.

It'll probably wait for a little while, but I'll probably read it sometime. Time to put it on the e-book purchase stalking list.
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Old 05-23-2013, 09:44 PM   #29
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Originally Posted by WT Sharpe View Post
By the way, On the Nature of Things by Lucretius is a very remarkably modern sounding book. It's quite enjoyable and not at all difficult. It shows that that at least some folks in ancient Greece were using their heads for something besides a place to hang laurel reefs.
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Old 05-23-2013, 10:01 PM   #30
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Oh well - at least if a non-fiction book wins, I won't have to work out how to juggle my reading list to accommodate it.
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