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View Poll Results: Bookworm_Girl Vote • October 2014, Multiple Choice
The Custom of the Country by Edith Wharton 5 41.67%
O Pioneers! by Willa Cather 6 50.00%
Roughing It by Mark Twain 5 41.67%
Burning Daylight by Jack London 5 41.67%
Two Years Before the Mast by Richard Henry Dana Jr. 5 41.67%
Ramona by Helen Hunt Jackson 2 16.67%
Washington Square by Henry James 3 25.00%
A Country Doctor by Sarah Orne Jewett 4 33.33%
Multiple Choice Poll. Voters: 12. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 10-02-2014, 01:17 AM   #1
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Bookworm_Girl Vote • October 2014

Help choose the October 2014 selection to read for the MR Literary Club! The poll will be open for three days and a discussion thread will begin shortly after a winner is chosen.

The vote is multiple choice. You may vote for as many or as few as you like. If you vote for the winner it is hoped that you will read the selection with the club and/or join in the discussion.

The rotating nominator (this month - Bookworm_Girl) may not vote in the poll. In the event of a tie, there will be a one-day non-multiple-choice run-off poll where the rotating nominator again may not vote. If the run-off also ends in a tie then the tie will be resolved by the rotating nominator.


Select from the following works:


The Custom of the Country by Edith Wharton (1910)
Spoiler:
Considered by many to be her masterpiece, Edith Wharton's second full-length work is a scathing yet personal examination of the exploits and follies of the modern upper class. As she unfolds the story of Undine Spragg, from New York to Europe, Wharton affords us a detailed glimpse of what might be called the interior décor of this America and its nouveau riche fringes. Through a heroine who is as vain, spoiled, and selfish as she is irresistibly fascinating, and through a most intricate and satisfying plot that follows Undine's marriages and affairs, she conveys a vision of social behavior that is both supremely informed and supremely disenchanted.


O Pioneers! by Willa Cather (1913)
Spoiler:
One of America's greatest women writers, Willa Cather established her talent and her reputation with this extraordinary novel, the first of her books set on the Nebraska frontier. A tale of the prairie land encountered by America's Swedish, Czech, Bohemian, and French immigrants, as well as a story of how the land challenged them, changed them, and, in some cases, defeated them, Cather's novel is a uniquely American epic.

Alexandra Bergson, a young Swedish immigrant girl who inherits her father's farm and must transform it from raw prairie into a prosperous enterprise, is the first of Cather's great heroines, all of them women of strong will and an even stronger desire to overcome adversity and succeed. But the wild land itself is an equally important character in Cather's books, and her descriptions of it are so evocative, lush, and moving that they provoked writer Rebecca West to say of her: "The most sensuous of writers, Willa Cather builds her imagined world almost as solidly as our five senses build the universe around us."


Roughing It by Mark Twain (1872)
Spoiler:
Though known throughout the world for his fictional novels The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain was also a skilled chronicler of his own life and experiences. In his youth, Twain traveled extensively throughout the untamed American West with his brother, working his way from town to town in a variety of jobs, including gold prospector, reporter, and lecturer. Roughing It is Twain's personal recollection of his wanderlust years. It is a wildly humorous adventure yarn that combines hard facts with a healthy dose of the author's unique perspective, one that helped define the course of American literature.


Burning Daylight by Jack London (1910)
Spoiler:
Burning Daylight takes place in the Yukon Territory in 1893. The main character, Elam Harnish, nicknamed "Burning Daylight" was the most successful entrepreneur of the Alaskan Gold Rush. The story of the main character was partially based upon the life of Oakland entrepreneur "Borax" Smith. Bringing his fortunes to the States he is cheated out of it by a crowd of money kings, and recovers it only at the muzzle of his gun. Embarking on a new life in California, he makes another fortune by underhanded means . . . only to find his corrupt life suddenly turned around by the love of a woman.

John Griffith "Jack" London was an American author, journalist, and social activist. He was a pioneer in the then-burgeoning world of commercial magazine fiction and was one of the first fiction writers to obtain worldwide celebrity and a large fortune from his fiction alone. Some of his most famous works include The Call of the Wild and White Fang, both set in the Klondike Gold Rush, as well as the short stories "To Build a Fire", "An Odyssey of the North", and "Love of Life"


Two Years Before the Mast by Richard Henry Dana Jr. (1840)
Spoiler:
Tracing an awe-inspiring oceanic route from Boston, around Cape Horn, to the California coast, Two Years Before the Mast is both a riveting story of adventure & the most eloquent, insightful account we have of life at sea in the early 19th century.

Richard Henry Dana Jr. is only nineteen when he abandons the patrician world of Boston & Harvard for an arduous voyage among real sailors, amid genuine danger. The result is an astonishing read, replete with vivid descriptions of storms, whales, & the ship's mad captain, terrible hardship & magical beauty, & fascinating historical detail, including an intriguing portrait of California before the gold rush. As D.H. Lawrence proclaimed, "Dana's small book is a very great book."


Ramona by Helen Hunt Jackson (1884)
Spoiler:
One of the greatest ethical novels of the nineteenth century, this is a tale of true love tested. Set in Old California, this powerful narrative richly depicts the life of the fading Spanish order, the oppression of tribal American communities and inevitably, the brutal intrusion of white settlers. Ramona, an illegitimate orphan, grows up as the ward of the overbearing Senora Moreno. But her desire for Alessandro, a Native American, makes her an outcast and fugitive...

Helen Maria Hunt Jackson was an American poet and writer who became an activist on behalf of improved treatment of Native Americans by the U.S. government. She described the adverse effects of government actions in her history A Century of Dishonor (1881). Her novel Ramona (1884) dramatized the federal government's mistreatment of Native Americans in Southern California after the Mexican-American War and attracted considerable attention to her cause. Commercially popular, it was estimated to have been reprinted 300 times and most readers liked its romantic and picturesque qualities rather than its political content. The novel was so popular that it attracted many tourists to Southern California who wanted to see places from the book.


Washington Square by Henry James (1880)
Spoiler:
The plot of Washington Square has the simplicity of old-fashioned melodrama: a plain-looking, good-hearted young woman, the only child of a rich widower, is pursued by a charming but unscrupulous man who seeks the wealth she will presumably inherit. On this premise, Henry James constructed one of his most memorable novels, a story in which love is answered with betrayal and loyalty leads inexorably to despair." This perceptively drawn human drama is James' most accessible work and an enduring literary triumph.


A Country Doctor by Sarah Orne Jewett (1884)
Spoiler:
Though not as well-known as the writers she influenced, Sarah Orne Jewett nevertheless remains one of the most important American novelists of the late nineteenth century. Published in 1884, Jewett's first novel, A Country Doctor, is a luminous portrayal of rural Maine and a semiautobiographical look at her world. In it, Nan's struggle to choose between marriage and a career as a doctor, between the confining life of a small town and a self-directed one as a professional, mirrors Jewett's own conflicts as well as eloquently giving voice to the leading women's issues of her time. Perhaps even more important, Jewett's perfect details about wild flowers and seaside wharfs, farm women knitting by the fireside and sailors going upriver to meet the moonlight, convey a realism that has seldom been surpassed and stamp her writing with her signature style. A contemporary and friend of Willa Cather, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Julia Ward Howe, Sarah Orne Jewett is widely recognized as a pathfinder in American literary history, courageously pursuing a road less traveled that led the way for other women to follow.

Last edited by sun surfer; 10-02-2014 at 01:22 AM.
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Old 10-02-2014, 04:52 PM   #2
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gosh, that was tough! thanks Bookworm_Girl, great list!
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Old 10-03-2014, 04:53 AM   #3
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I agree! I voted for four of them but won't mind whichever one gets up.
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Old 10-03-2014, 05:42 AM   #4
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Difficult, difficult. I rather like Edith Wharton, so I choose her book.
I passed on on Mark Twain, though I read his Huckleberry Finn and all from an early age on, but I really am not so in autobiographies, to tell the truth.
Being from a medical background before my cultural profession, I am rather intrigued by Countrydoctor by Sarah Orne Jewett, and as for Henry James: who can resist a good love story?
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Old 10-03-2014, 08:39 AM   #5
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Nice selection to make choices from. I decided to just go with authors that I have never read. One exception being A Country Doctor by Sarah Orne Jewett. Perhaps my apologies are due to Jewett, but the description just put me in mind of the dreck American television show Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. That and I have learned to be leery of any book the review of which includes the word “luminous.”

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Old 10-04-2014, 08:39 AM   #6
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I'm still thinking. One book was already on my to-read list (Dana) and I'd prefer not to do a re-read (although I'll be happy with any selection, of course).
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Old 10-05-2014, 04:49 AM   #7
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Still one day to go before the final?
I think that O' Pioneers is a strong contender, and I didn't vote for it as I recently read some 'prairie' book of John Williams---Stoner and Butcher's Crossing.
Well, it's all in the game!
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Old 10-05-2014, 01:49 PM   #8
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The poll is closed now. I wasn't sure which way it was going to go until the end! I am pleased with the outcome and looking forward to the month. Now that voting is over I'll share a little more about how I built my list.

I have lived most of my life in the Western US. I have lived in many states: on the Mississippi River and on the Pacific coast as well as adjacent to both the Canadian and Mexican borders. Therefore I love this whole expansive region and not particularly any single region.

The book on the list that I most wanted to share was Ramona. This book was one of my favorite reads last year. It is similar to A Secret River and Fools Crow. I learned much history about the clash amongst the Mexican, Spanish, Indian and American cultures as California became a U.S. state. There is also a beautiful tale of forbidden love between two races woven in with the history. I discovered this gem in the gift store of the Old Mission in Santa Barbara, CA.
http://www.santabarbaramission.org/

I discovered Willa Cather in New Mexico while visiting Albuquerque - Santa Fe - Taos. Her descriptions of the landscape are so vivid, and I enjoyed reading Death Comes to the Archbishop while traveling through this area at the same time.

I selected a book by Sarah Orne Jewett because of her influence on Willa Cather.

I knew I had to have a Mark Twain book on the list since he's a big influence on every kid's reading where I grew up. I discovered Roughing It in a display of Twain's books while exploring the old mining town of Virginia City, Nevada.
Spoiler:
Virginia City could be considered the "birthplace" of Mark Twain, as it was here in February 1863 that writer Samuel Clemens, then a reporter on the local Territorial Enterprise newspaper, first used his famous pen name. Clemens lived in Virginia City and wrote for the Enterprise from late fall 1862 until May 1864, when he escaped from a potential duel instigated by a local newspaper editor upset at Clemens' reporting. Clemens returned to the Comstock region twice on western lecture tours, once in 1866 where he was mugged on the Divide. The muggers relieved Clemens of his watch and his money. The robbery turns out to have been a practical joke played on Clemens by his friends. He did not appreciate the joke, but he did retrieve his belongings—particularly his gold watch (worth $300), which had great sentimental value. Clemens mentions the incident in his book Roughing It (1872), apparently still sore about it. Clemens' second lecture tour in 1868 occurred at the time of the hanging of John Millian, who was convicted of murdering Julia Bulette.


In January I watched the TV mini-series Klondike on the Discovery channel which was based on Charlotte Gray's non-fiction book Gold Diggers: Striking It Rich in the Klondike. Highly recommend this show! Jack London is one of the main characters and keeps repeating the phrase "burning daylight." Richard Madden stars as Bill Haskell, one of the most successful miners from the Klondike rush. You may know Madden as Robb Stark from Game of Thrones. I share this info because the real Bill Haskell's memoir was absolutely riveting and one of my favorite reads of this year. This subtitle "thrilling narrative" is no exaggeration! Madden mentions reading Haskell's book to prepare for the role.
http://www.amazon.com/Years-Klondike...skell+Klondike
http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/liv...-stunts-672552

Richard Dana Jr.'s book has been mentioned in multiple books I've read in the last year so I figured that I should read it someday!

Wharton and James have been on my TBR list for ages, and I keep meaning to get to several of their books!
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Old 10-05-2014, 02:19 PM   #9
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thanks for the explanation!
I am still far behind with Cixi, however I may as well load the pioneers - there is a Gutenberg/feedbooks version available form the goodreads link, or the whole trilogy in epub on MR (there are other formats on MR too).
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Old 10-05-2014, 10:11 PM   #10
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Interesting background to your choices, Bookworm_Girl - thank you! I have had Willa Cather on my TBR list for quite some time, so am very happy with the outcome. However, I'll be adding some of your others to my Kobo while I'm at it!
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Old 10-06-2014, 02:00 AM   #11
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The discussion thread is up here.

Interesting explanations, Bookworm_Girl. Henry James is one of my favourite authors; the only reason I didn't vote for Washington Square is because I've already read it (and by the way, when I lived in New York I was there quite often). Your insight on Ramona makes me wish I would've voted for it as well but I'm very much looking forward to the Cather.


ETA - Bookworm_Girl, it looks like Goodreads is following your lead. I added O Pioneers! to my Goodreads shelf earlier, and when I just now went to Goodreads this was at the top of my Recent Updates:
Quote:
Because you want to read O Pioneers!, Goodreads recommends
Daisy Miller and Washington Square by Henry James

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