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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 05-22-2013, 04:41 PM   #1
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June 2013 Book Club Vote

June 2013 MobileRead Book Club Vote

Help us choose a book as the June 2013 eBook for the MobileRead Book Club. The poll will be open for 5 days. There will be no runoff vote unless the voting results a tie, in which case there will be a 3 day run-off poll. This is a visible poll: others can see how you voted. It is multiple-choice: you may cast a vote for each book that appeals to you.

We will start the discussion thread for this book on June 20th. Select from the following Official Choices with three nominations each:

Memoirs of a Fox Hunting Man by Siegfried Sassoon
No links provided.
Spoiler:
It won both the Hawthornden Prize and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize (the oldest literary prize in Britain). From Amazon:

Quote:
A highly decorated English soldier and an acclaimed poet and novelist, Siegfried Sassoon won fame for his trilogy of fictionalized autobiographies that wonderfully capture the vanishing idylls of Edwardian England and the brutal realities of war.

In this first novel of the semiautobiographical George Sherston trilogy, Sassoon wonderfully captures the vanishing idylls of the Edwardian English countryside. Never out of print since its original publication in 1928, when it won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, Sassoon's reminiscences about childhood and the beginning of World War I are channeled through young George Sherston, whose life of local cricket tournaments and fox-hunts falls apart as war approaches and he joins up to fight. Sassoon's first novel, though rife with comic characters and a jaunty sense of storytelling, presents his own loss of innocence and the destruction of the country he knew and loved.


The Orphan Master's Son by Adam Johnson
Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble
Spoiler:
From Amazon:

WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE

NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD FINALIST • LONGLISTED FOR THE AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION’S ANDREW CARNEGIE MEDAL • WINNER OF THE CALIFORNIA BOOK AWARD FOR FICTION • NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY
The Washington Post • Entertainment Weekly • The Wall Street Journal • Los Angeles Times • San Francisco Chronicle • Financial Times • Newsweek/The Daily Beast • The Plain Dealer • St. Louis Post-Dispatch • Milwaukee Journal Sentinel • Slate • Salon • BookPage • Shelf Awareness

“The single best work of fiction published in 2012 . . . The book’s cunning, flair and pathos are testaments to the still-formidable power of the written word.”—The Wall Street Journal

Pak Jun Do is the haunted son of a lost mother—a singer “stolen” to Pyongyang—and an influential father who runs a work camp for orphans. Superiors in the state soon recognize the boy’s loyalty and keen instincts. Considering himself “a humble citizen of the greatest nation in the world,” Jun Do rises in the ranks. He becomes a professional kidnapper who must navigate the shifting rules, arbitrary violence, and baffling demands of his Korean overlords in order to stay alive. Driven to the absolute limit of what any human being could endure, he boldly takes on the treacherous role of rival to Kim Jong Il in an attempt to save the woman he loves, Sun Moon, a legendary actress “so pure, she didn’t know what starving people looked like.”

In this epic, critically acclaimed tour de force, Adam Johnson provides a riveting portrait of a world rife with hunger, corruption, and casual cruelty but also camaraderie, stolen moments of beauty, and love.

Praise for The Orphan Master’s Son

“A daring and remarkable novel.”—Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

“Gripping . . . Deftly blending adventure, surreal comedy and Casablanca-style romance, the novel takes readers on a jolting ride through an Orwellian landscape of dubious identity and dangerous doublespeak.”—San Jose Mercury News

“This is a novel worth getting excited about. . . . Adam Johnson has taken the papier-mâché creation that is North Korea and turned it into a real and riveting place that readers will find unforgettable.”—The Washington Post

“[A] brilliant and timely novel.”—The Wall Street Journal

“Remarkable and heartbreaking . . . To [the] very short list of exceptional novels that also serve a humanitarian purpose The Orphan Master’s Son must now be added.”—The New Republic

“A triumph of imagination . . . [Grade:] A.”—Entertainment Weekly

“A spellbinding saga of subverted identity and an irrepressible love.”—Vogue


The Swerve: How the World Became Modern by Stephen Greenblatt
Amazon US / Barnes & Noble / Sony Reader Store
Spoiler:
• 2011 National Book Award for Nonfiction winner
• 2012 Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction winner

From the Sony Reader Store:

A riveting tale of the great cultural "swerve" known as the Renaissance.

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.


The Tea Lords by Hella Haasse
Amazon UK / Amazon CA / Booktopia AU
Spoiler:

Her internationally acclaimed Magnus opus "Heren van de Thee" was translated to ‘The Tea Lords’ in 2010. It is a historical novel set in the Dutch East Indies of the 19th and 20th century, based on a trove of documents and letters deposited in the Netherlands by the heirs and relations of the book’s characters.

The Tea Lords, published in the Netherlands in 1992 and well rendered into English by Ina Rilke, is Haasse's first appearance here for 15 years. It is one of her largest-scale exercises in fictional sympathy: a portrayal of three generations of Dutch colonial experience in the East Indies, and altogether more forgiving than Multatuli's classic 1860 novel, Max Havelaar, which sweepingly denounced his country's abuses. (Multatuli appears in Haasse's narrative as a distant cousin-by-marriage and is given fair, if mocking, treatment for his vanity and egotism, especially where women were concerned.)
Haasse's intention in The Tea Lords is not to slay the monster of colonialism again, but to seek out a representative family's story – a product of its time rather than its greediest architect or blackest sheep.


Among Others by Jo Walton
No links provided.
Spoiler:
It won the 2012 Nebula Award for Best Novel, the Hugo Award for Best Novel and the British Fantasy Award (from wiki).
Quote:
... Startling, unusual, and yet irresistably readable, Among Others is at once the compelling story of a young woman struggling to escape a troubled childhood, a brilliant diary of first encounters with the great novels of modern fantasy and SF, and a spellbinding tale of escape from ancient enchantment. ...


More Than Human by Theodore Sturgeon
Amazon UK / Amazon US / Kobo
Spoiler:
More Than Human is about a gestalt organism--the next step in human evolution. It concerns a group of people with extraordinary mental and psychic powers who "blesh" (blend + mesh} together so as to form a single entity. The book explores the development of this entity and the nature and morality of such a being. Beautifully--even poetically--written, it is often considered to be Sturgeon's masterpiece.


The Giver by Lois Lowry
Amazon US / Barnes & Noble / Kobo
Spoiler:
In a world with no poverty, no crime, no sickness and no unemployment, and where every family is happy, 12-year-old Jonas is chosen to be the community's Receiver of Memories. Under the tutelage of the Elders and an old man known as the Giver, he discovers the disturbing truth about his utopian world and struggles against the weight of its hypocrisy. With echoes of Brave New World, in this 1994 Newbery Medal winner, Lowry examines the idea that people might freely choose to give up their humanity in order to create a more stable society. Gradually Jonas learns just how costly this ordered and pain-free society can be, and boldly decides he cannot pay the price.


Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami
Amazon US / Barnes & Noble
Spoiler:
A narrative particle accelerator that zooms between Wild Turkey Whiskey and Bob Dylan, unicorn skulls and voracious librarians, John Coltrane and Lord Jim. Science fiction, detective story and post-modern manifesto all rolled into one rip-roaring novel, Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World is the tour de force that expanded Haruki Murakami's international following. Tracking one man's descent into the Kafkaesque underworld of contemporary Tokyo, Murakami unites East and West, tragedy and farce, compassion and detachment, slang and philosophy. From Goodreads


American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson by Joseph J. Ellis
Amazon US / Barnes & Noble / Sony Reader Store
Spoiler:
• 1997 National Book Award for Nonfiction winner.

From Barnes & Noble:

For a man who insisted that life on the public stage was not what he had in mind, Thomas Jefferson certainly spent a great deal of time in the spotlight--and not only during his active political career. After 1809, his longed-for retirement was compromised by a steady stream of guests and tourists who made of his estate at Monticello a virtual hotel, as well as by more than one thousand letters per year, most from strangers, which he insisted on answering personally. In his twilight years Jefferson was already taking on the luster of a national icon, which was polished off by his auspicious death (on July 4, 1896); and in the subsequent seventeen decades of his celebrity--now verging, thanks to virulent revisionists and television documentaries, on notoriety--has been inflated beyond recognition of the original person.

For the historian Joseph J. Ellis, the experience of writing about Jefferson was "as if a pathologist, just about to begin an autopsy, has discovered that the body on the operating table was still breathing." In American Sphinx, Ellis sifts the facts shrewdly from the legends and the rumors, treading a path between vilification and hero worship in order to formulate a plausible portrait of the man who still today "hover[s] over the political scene like one of those dirigibles cruising above a crowded football stadium, flashing words of inspiration to both teams." For, at the grass roots, Jefferson is no longer liberal or conservative, agrarian or industrialist, pro- or anti-slavery, privileged or populist. He is all things to all people. His own obliviousness to incompatible convictions within himself (which left him deaf to most forms of irony) has leaked out into the world at large--a world determined to idolize him despite his foibles.

From Ellis we learn that Jefferson sang incessantly under his breath; that he delivered only two public speeches in eight years as president, while spending ten hours a day at his writing desk; that sometimes his political sensibilities collided with his domestic agenda, as when he ordered an expensive piano from London during a boycott (and pledged to "keep it in storage"). We see him relishing such projects as the nailery at Monticello that allowed him to interact with his slaves more palatably, as pseudo-employer to pseudo-employees. We grow convinced that he preferred to meet his lovers in the rarefied region of his mind rather than in the actual bedchamber. We watch him exhibiting both great depth and great shallowness, combining massive learning with extraordinary naïveté, piercing insights with self-deception on the grandest scale. We understand why we should neither beatify him nor consign him to the rubbish heap of history, though we are by no means required to stop loving him. He is Thomas Jefferson, after all--our very own sphinx.


Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri
Amazon US / Barnes and Noble / Chapters (Canada)
Spoiler:
A collection of short stories that won the Pulitzer and the Hemingway Foundation/PEN award in 2000.

GoodReads.

Last edited by WT Sharpe; 05-23-2013 at 07:30 AM. Reason: Links added
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Old 05-22-2013, 05:33 PM   #2
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Interesting selection to choose from this month.

"The Giver" sounds a bit like a novel adapted from Ursula LeGuin's "The Ones Who Walked Away From Omelas", which was a Hugo winner itself in 1974. Not sure I am up for that type of work again this year though, even if it is intended as a children's book.

I do have 2 others on hold at my library though, nice short wait times on them too!
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Old 05-22-2013, 05:57 PM   #3
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So I am not keen on any of the SciFi/Fantasy choices and also for the moment have had enough of stories about English gentry of the late 19th to early 20th Centuries.
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Old 05-22-2013, 06:05 PM   #4
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and also for the moment have had enough of stories about English gentry of the late 19th to early 20th Centuries.
Heresy I say, sir!
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Old 05-22-2013, 06:21 PM   #5
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The only book that seems to be catching my fancy is the one I've read. Very good books so yes, I'm voting for The Other. Trying to decide what else to vote for if any.
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Old 05-22-2013, 06:22 PM   #6
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Heresy I say, sir!
In my opinion, SPOT ON!
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Old 05-22-2013, 06:30 PM   #7
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In my opinion, SPOT ON!
SPOT ON was the bit I cut:

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So I am not keen on any of the SciFi/Fantasy choices
I think you got them confused, but not to worry. All clear now.
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Old 05-22-2013, 07:07 PM   #8
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Here are some Links for More Than Human:

Amazon.com:
http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_no...ore+Than+Human

Amazon.co.uk:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_...ore+Than+Human

Kobo:
http://www.kobobooks.com/search/sear...ore+Than+Human

And it is also in the iTunes Book store.

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Old 05-22-2013, 08:15 PM   #9
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What a name is "Hella"! If only her last name were "Goode".

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.

I was also going to vote for The Swerve but then I went to read more about it on its Amazon page and came across some critical reviews including an excellent one by "Harold Kirkpatrick" here, which includes this paragraph:

Quote:
Greenblatt seriously overstates the role of Lucretius, whose influence, until the mid to late 18th century was arguably quite marginal. Peter Gay's The Enlightenment: The Rise of Modern Paganism, unfortunately not mentioned by Greenblatt, deals at length with the influence of Lucretius on French Enlightenment thinkers, many of whom really were "pagans", i.e., materialists and epicureans. The standard view, of course, is that a revival of Platonic idealism, not of "pagan" materialism, was responsible for the Renaissance preoccupation with beauty and harmony.
I don't like the idea of Greenblatt overstating the importance of a central point of his book; another commenter also says that Greenblatt "overreaches" in his analysis.

It is a shame. The book sounds interesting and some commenters say that despite the bias of his premise, there are still good stories and historical anecdotes in the book that are well worth reading, but I don't know now if I'll read it if it wins. I'm not a fan of slanted history in non-fiction. If I do I read it I may spend the book thinking about which things he may be overemphasising and wondering which other important things he may have left out.
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Old 05-22-2013, 08:18 PM   #10
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What a name is "Hella"! If only her last name were "Goode".

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.
Among Others is very good and it is not part of a series. So you can give it a vote and enjoy a standalone book for a change.
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Old 05-23-2013, 12:30 AM   #11
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Well, I'm in trouble. I would read everyone of these books. I am now thinking of the best strategy to vote, if there is any......
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Old 05-23-2013, 12:51 AM   #12
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Well - no surprise that I didn't vote for the non-fiction. I also balked at the short story collection this time.

Soooooooooo - it was Sci-Fi/Fantasy for me with Among Others, The Giver and More Than Human. Two of them are already on my TBR list for this year and the other one I'll stretch for because I've never tried a Sturgeon story before.

There were a couple of others that looked good, but I had to be realistic about what I'd shuffle my reading plans for.
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Old 05-23-2013, 12:51 AM   #13
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I haven't read The Giver, but those who have say it works as a standalone novel even though it's part of a series, much like A Wrinkle in Time can be read as a standalone even though it's also part of a series.

Here are some links for The Giver:

Amazon US:
http://www.amazon.com/The-Giver-Quar...dp/B003MC5N28/

Barnes & Noble:
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/give...=9780547345901

Kobo:
http://www.kobobooks.com/ebook/The-G...IDg/page1.html
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Old 05-23-2013, 05:52 AM   #14
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Nothing really made med go "YES" this month. I dod vote for The Giver and I've put myself on the library wait list for it. A couple of people before me though, so doubtfdul that I'll get in time. Keeping my fingers crossed though!
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Old 05-23-2013, 08:29 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sun surfer View Post

I was also going to vote for The Swerve but then I went to read more about it on its Amazon page and came across some critical reviews including an excellent one by "Harold Kirkpatrick" here, which includes this paragraph:

...

I don't like the idea of Greenblatt overstating the importance of a central point of his book; another commenter also says that Greenblatt "overreaches" in his analysis.

It is a shame. The book sounds interesting and some commenters say that despite the bias of his premise, there are still good stories and historical anecdotes in the book that are well worth reading, but I don't know now if I'll read it if it wins. I'm not a fan of slanted history in non-fiction. If I do I read it I may spend the book thinking about which things he may be overemphasising and wondering which other important things he may have left out.

Interesting. But one could ask, "Who is Harold Kirkpatrick?" He may know what he is talking about ... or he may not. Greenblatt's credentials according to Wikipedia are:

Greenblatt was born in Boston and raised in Cambridge, Massachusetts. After graduating from Newton North High School, he was educated at Yale University (B.A. 1964, M.Phil 1968, Ph.D. 1969) and Pembroke College, Cambridge (B.A. 1966, M.A. 1968). Greenblatt has since taught at University of California, Berkeley and Harvard University. He was Class of 1932 Professor at Berkeley (he became a full professor in 1980) and taught there for 28 years before taking a position at Harvard University, where in 1997 Greenblatt became the Harry Levin Professor of Literature. He was named John Cogan University Professor of the Humanities in 2000. Greenblatt is considered "a key figure in the shift from literary to cultural poetics and from textual to contextual interpretation in U.S. English departments in the 1980s and 1990s."[3]
Greenblatt is a permanent fellow of the Wissenschaftskolleg in Berlin. As a visiting professor and lecturer, Greenblatt has taught at such institutions as the École des Hautes Études, the University of Florence, Kyoto University, the University of Oxford and Peking University. He was a resident fellow at the American Academy of Rome, and is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and has been president of the Modern Language Association.


I think I'll be happy to take a punt with Greenblatt, and I voted for "The Swerve".

(Edit: And also for Sassoon and Johnson.)

Last edited by Bookpossum; 05-23-2013 at 08:39 AM.
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