Help us select the book that the New Leaf Book Club will read for July 2018. The theme is Some Like ItHot:Summer.
I love summer! I'm looking forward to lots and lots of nominations this month for my summer reading list. Everyone is welcome to join the nomination process even if they'd rather lurk during the voting and discussion; if that is still a little too much commitment, please feel free to suggest titles without making a formal nomination.
The nominations will run through 7 AM EDT, June 7, 2018. Each nomination requires a second and a third to make it to the poll, which will remain open for four days. The discussion of the selection will start on July 15, 2018. Don't forget to show up for the discussion of the June selection, The Three Musketeers, on June 15.
Before Barry Bonds, before Reggie Jackson, before Hank Aaron, baseball's stars had one undeniable trait in common: they were all white. In 1947, Jackie Robinson broke that barrier, striking a crucial blow for racial equality and changing the world of sports forever. I Never Had It Made is Robinson's own candid, hard-hitting account of what it took to become the first black man in history to play in the major leagues.
I Never Had It Made recalls Robinson's early years and influences: his time at UCLA, where he became the school's first four-letter athlete; his army stint during World War II, when he challenged Jim Crow laws and narrowly escaped court martial; his years of frustration, on and off the field, with the Negro Leagues; and finally that fateful day when Branch Rickey of the Brooklyn Dodgers proposed what became known as the "Noble Experiment"—Robinson would step up to bat to integrate and revolutionize baseball.
More than a baseball story, I Never Had It Made also reveals the highs and lows of Robinson's life after baseball. He recounts his political aspirations and civil rights activism; his friendships with Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, William Buckley, Jr., and Nelson Rockefeller; and his troubled relationship with his son, Jackie, Jr.
Originally published the year Robinson died, I Never Had It Made endures as an inspiring story of a man whose heroism extended well beyond the playing field.
The Greengage Summer by Rumer Godden [Bookpossum, bfisher, Bookworm_Girl] Kobo: $US9.89, $C12.09, £6.47, $A2.99 | Amazon US $8.99
Soon after the end of the terrible Great War, Mrs. Grey brings her five young children to the French countryside for the summer in hopes of instilling in them a sense of history and humility. But when she is struck down by a sudden illness and hospitalized, the siblings are left to fend for themselves at the lovely, bullet-scarred hotel Les Oeillets, under the suspicious, watchful eyes of its owner, Mademoiselle Zizi.
The young ones find a willing guide, companion, and protector in charming Englishman Eliot, a longtime resident at Les Oeillets and Mlle. Zizi’s apparent paramour. But as these warm days of freedom, discovery, and adolescent adventure unfold, Eliot’s interest becomes more and more focused on the eldest of the Grey children, sixteen-year-old daughter Joss. The older man’s obsession with the innocent, alluring, heartbreakingly beautiful woman-child soon threatens to overstep all bounds of propriety. And as Eliot’s fascination increases, so does the jealousy of his disrespected lover, adding fuel to a dangerously smoldering fire that could erupt into unexpected violence at any moment.
Told from the point of view of Cecil, Joss’s sharp-eyed younger sister, The Greengage Summer is a beautiful, poignant, darkly tinged coming-of-age story rich in the sights, smells, and sounds of France’s breathtaking Champagne country. It remains one of the crowning literary achievements of Rumer Godden, acclaimed author of beloved classics Black Narcissus, The River, and In This House of Brede.
In The Summer Book Tove Jansson distills the essence of the summer—its sunlight and storms—into twenty-two crystalline vignettes. This brief novel tells the story of Sophia, a six-year-old girl awakening to existence, and Sophia’s grandmother, nearing the end of hers, as they spend the summer on a tiny unspoiled island in the Gulf of Finland. The grandmother is unsentimental and wise, if a little cranky; Sophia is impetuous and volatile, but she tends to her grandmother with the care of a new parent. Together they amble over coastline and forest in easy companionship, build boats from bark, create a miniature Venice, write a fanciful study of local bugs. They discuss things that matter to young and old alike: life, death, the nature of God and of love. “On an island,” thinks the grandmother, “everything is complete.” In The Summer Book, Jansson creates her own complete world, full of the varied joys and sorrows of life.
Tove Jansson, whose Moomintroll comic strip and books brought her international acclaim, lived for much of her life on an island like the one described in The Summer Book, and the work can be enjoyed as her closely observed journal of the sounds, sights, and feel of a summer spent in intimate contact with the natural world.
The summer of '28 was a vintage season for a growing boy. A summer of green apple trees, mowed lawns, and new sneakers. Of half-burnt firecrackers, of gathering dandelions, of Grandma's belly-busting dinner. It was a summer of sorrows and marvels and gold-fuzzed bees. A magical, timeless summer in the life of a twelve-year-old boy named Douglas Spaulding—remembered forever by the incomparable Ray Bradbury.
Writing her first novel during World War I, West examines the relationship between three women and a soldier suffering from shell-shock. This novel of an enclosed world invaded by public events also embodies in its characters the shifts in England's class structures at the beginning of the twentieth century.
The book's events take place almost exclusively during the summer months, and there are some beautiful descriptions of the weather and countryside.
When one long, hot summer, young Leo is staying with a school-friend at Brandham Hall, he begins to act as a messenger between Ted, the farmer, and Marian, the beautiful young woman up at the hall. He becomes drawn deeper and deeper into their dangerous game of deceit and desire, until his role brings him to a shocking and premature revelation. The haunting story of a young boy's awakening into the secrets of the adult world, The Go-Between is also an unforgettable evocation of the boundaries of Edwardian society.
Ian McEwan’s symphonic novel of love and war, childhood and class, guilt and forgiveness provides all the satisfaction of a brilliant narrative and the provocation we have come to expect from this master of English prose.
On a hot summer day in 1935, thirteen-year-old Briony Tallis witnesses a moment’s flirtation between her older sister, Cecilia, and Robbie Turner, the son of a servant and Cecilia’s childhood friend. But Briony’ s incomplete grasp of adult motives–together with her precocious literary gifts–brings about a crime that will change all their lives. As it follows that crime’s repercussions through the chaos and carnage of World War II and into the close of the twentieth century, Atonement engages the reader on every conceivable level, with an ease and authority that mark it as a genuine masterpiece.
1902-1911 An age of innocence and hope. Before the storm clouds roll over Europe. As Paul Craddock recovers from his Boer War injuries, he starts to plan a new life. As soon as he is able he invests all he has in a remote but beautiful estate in Devon, determined to make something wonderful of the place and to be at the heart of what is most real and most important. Then he meets Grace, beautiful and passionate, and mistress of the land he has so quickly grown to love. Equals in spirit and honour, their attraction to each other is undeniable, but she too has ambitions - and they may not be compatible with his. As Paul gains knowledge, contentment and stature in Shallowford it is at the price of heartbreak and bittersweet lessons learned.
The Amazon description:
[q_index]A great read for fans of PBS’s Poldark and Downton Abbey—first in the saga of a man returning from battle to an estate in the pre-WWI English countryside.
After serving his country in the Boer War, injured Lieutenant Paul Craddock returns to England to resume civilian life. But things have changed since he joined the Imperial Yeomanry three years ago. His father has died, leaving Paul as heir to a scrap metal business he has no intention of continuing. Instead, he purchases an auctioned-off thirteen-hundred-acre estate in a secluded corner of Devon. Neglected and overgrown, Shallowford becomes the symbol of all that Paul has lost—and a reminder of the gentle place his homeland once was. And here, on this sprawling stretch of land, he will be changed by his love for two women: fiercely independent Grace Lovell, and lovely, demure Claire Derwent.
Set in the English countryside in the first part of the previous century—from the long “Edwardian afternoon” following the death of Queen Victoria, to the gathering storm of World War I—Long Summer Day is the story of a man, his family, and a people struggling to adapt to life in a new world.
As the 1938 hurricane approaches Rhode Island, another storm brews in this New York Times bestseller from the author of The Secret Life of Violet Grant and Along the Infinite Sea.
Lily Dane has returned to Seaview, Rhode Island, where her family has summered for generations. It’s an escape not only from New York’s social scene but from a heartbreak that still haunts her. Here, among the seaside community that has embraced her since childhood, she finds comfort in the familiar rituals of summer.
But this summer is different. Budgie and Nick Greenwald—Lily’s former best friend and former fiancé—have arrived, too, and Seaview’s elite are abuzz. Under Budgie’s glamorous influence, Lily is seduced into a complicated web of renewed friendship and dangerous longing.
As a cataclysmic hurricane churns north through the Atlantic, and uneasy secrets slowly reveal themselves, Lily and Nick must confront an emotional storm that will change their worlds forever...
A tail-end baby boomer, William McInnes recalls summer holidays that seemed to go on forever, when he and his mates would walk down to fish in the bay, a time when the Aussie battler stood as the local Labor candidate and watched out for his mates, and a time when the whole family would rush into the lounge room to watch a new commercial on TV.
He writes about his father—a strong character who talks to the furniture, dances with William’s mother in the kitchen, and spends his free time fixing up the house and doing the best for his family. In William’s writing you can hear his father speaking, listen to his mother singing, and his sisters and brothers talking in the yard.
This is a book about people who aren’t famous but should be. It’s about cane toads and families, love and hope and fear, laughter, death and life. Most of all, it is a realistic, down-to-earth book by a man who had a great time growing up. His warmth and humour come through on every page.
Help us select the book that the New Leaf Book Club will read for June 2018. The theme is I'll be There for You: Best Friends.
The nominations will run through 7 AM EDT, May 7, 2018. Each nomination requires a second and a third to make it to the poll, which will remain open for four days. The discussion of the selection will start on June 15, 2018. Don't forget to show up for the discussion of the May selection, The Radium Girls, on May 15.
Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey-Maturin tales are widely acknowledged to be the greatest series of historical novels ever written. Now, for the first time, they are available in electronic book format, so a whole new generation of readers can be swept away on the adventure of a lifetime.
Master and Commander is the first of Patrick O’Brian’s now famous Aubrey/Maturin novels, regarded by many as the greatest series of historical novels ever written. It establishes the friendship between Captain Jack Aubrey RN and Stephen Maturin, who becomes his secretive ship’s surgeon and an intelligence agent. It contains all the action and excitement which could possibly be hoped for in a historical novel, but it also displays the qualities which have put O’Brian far ahead of any of his competitors: his depiction of the detail of life aboard a Nelsonic man-of-war, of weapons, food, conversation and ambience, of the landscape and of the sea. O’Brian’s portrayal of each of these is faultless and the sense of period throughout is acute. His power of characterisation is above all masterly.
This brilliant historical novel marked the début of a writer who grew into one of our greatest novelists ever, the author of what Alan Judd, writing in the Sunday Times, has described as ‘the most significant extended story since Anthony Powell’s A Dance to the Music of Time’.
It's not the first in his Spenser series, but it is one of the best (you can read this series in any order, though the developing relationships are fun to follow chronologically). The friendship I am nominating this for is that between Spenser and Hawk, an African-American solider of fortune and unquestionably the greatest badass ever created in crime novels (IMHO).
In this story a letter tells Spenser that Susan (his long time partner) is in trouble and Hawk is in jail, and from there it’s a foregone conclusion on all hell breaking loose. The bonds between the three are never stronger, the story has never been more intense and the action has never been so defined. It’s a masterfully written book that could easily stand alone, not as minimalist as later Spensers or as hard-boiled as earlier ones, transitional both in terms of his style and the way the characters develop.
My Brilliant Friend by Elana Ferrante [astrangerhere, Catlady, latepaul] Amazon US $6.00 | Kobo US $8.69
Beginning in the 1950s in a poor but vibrant neighborhood on the outskirts of Naples, Ferrante’s four-volume story spans almost sixty years, as its protagonists, the fiery and unforgettable Lila, and the bookish narrator, Elena, become women, wives, mothers, and leaders, all the while maintaining a complex and at times conflictual friendship. Book one in the series follows Lila and Elena from their first fateful meeting as ten-year-olds through their school years and adolescence.
Through the lives of these two women, Ferrante tells the story of a neighborhood, a city, and a country as it is transformed in ways that, in turn, also transform the relationship between her protagonists.
Absolute Friends by John Le Carré [pablo, gmw, Bookpossum] Amazon US $7.99 | Amazon UK £5.99
Absolute Friends is a superbly paced novel spanning fifty-six years, a theatrical masterstroke of tragi-comic writing, and a savage fable of our times, almost of our hours.
The friends of the title are Ted Mundy, British soldier’s son born in 1947 in a shining new independent Pakistan, and Sasha, a refugee son of an East German Lutheran pastor and his wife who have sought sanctuary in the West.
The two men meet first as students in riot-torn West Berlin of the late Sixties, again in the grimy looking-glass of Cold War espionage and, most terribly, in today’s unipolar world of terror, counter-terror and the war of lies.
Absolute Friends presents us with magical writing, characters to delight, and a spellbinding story that enchants even as it challenges.
This swashbuckling epic of chivalry, honor, and derring-do, set in France during the 1620s, is richly populated with romantic heroes, unattainable heroines, kings, queens, cavaliers, and criminals in a whirl of adventure, espionage, conspiracy, murder, vengeance, love, scandal, and suspense. Dumas transforms minor historical figures into larger- than-life characters: the Comte d’Artagnan, an impetuous young man in pursuit of glory; the beguilingly evil seductress “Milady”; the powerful and devious Cardinal Richelieu; the weak King Louis XIII and his unhappy queen—and, of course, the three musketeers themselves, Athos, Porthos, and Aramis, whose motto “all for one, one for all” has come to epitomize devoted friendship. With a plot that delivers stolen diamonds, masked balls, purloined letters, and, of course, great bouts of swordplay, The Three Musketeers is eternally entertaining.
Elsa is seven years old and different. Her grandmother is seventy-seven years old and crazy—as in standing-on-the-balcony-firing-paintball-guns-at-strangers crazy. She is also Elsa’s best, and only, friend. At night Elsa takes refuge in her grandmother’s stories, in the Land-of-Almost-Awake and the Kingdom of Miamas, where everybody is different and nobody needs to be normal.
When Elsa’s grandmother dies and leaves behind a series of letters apologizing to people she has wronged, Elsa’s greatest adventure begins. Her grandmother’s instructions lead her to an apartment building full of drunks, monsters, attack dogs, and old crones but also to the truth about fairy tales and kingdoms and a grandmother like no other.
Everyone remembers the smell of their grandmother's house.
Everyone remembers the stories their grandmother told them.
But does everyone remember their grandmother flirting with policemen? Driving illegally?
Breaking into a zoo in the middle of the night? Firing a paintball gun from a balcony in her dressing gown?
Seven-year-old Elsa does.
Some might call Elsa's granny 'eccentric', or even 'crazy'. Elsa calls her a superhero. And granny's stories, of knights and princesses and dragons and castles, are her superpower. Because, as Elsa is starting to learn, heroes and villains don't always exist in imaginary kingdoms; they could live just down the hallway.
As Christmas draws near, even the best superhero grandmothers may have one or two things they'd like to apologise for. And, in the process, Elsa can have some breath-taking adventures of her own . . .
Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery [Dazrin, CRussel, bfisher] MR Library | Public domain
Everyone's favorite redhead, the spunky Anne Shirley, begins her adventures at Green Gables, a farm outside Avonlea, Prince Edward Island. When the freckled girl realizes that the elderly Cuthberts wanted to adopt a boy instead, she begins to try to win them and, consequently, the reader, over.
The best description I've found is from GrannyGrump's post in the MobileRead thread linked above:
“The Little White Bird” is a novel for adult readers, ranging in tone from fantasy and whimsy to social comedy with dark, aggressive undertones.
This book is a series of short episodes, including accounts of the narrator's day-to-day activities in contemporary London, as well as fanciful tales set in Kensington Gardens and elsewhere; with the two main characters being the first-person narrator Captain W—— (“Barrie thinly disguised”), and the boy David (based on George Llewelyn Davies, one of several children of the Davies family who provided inspiration for many characters in Barrie's writings). The main theme of the book is an exploration of the emotional relationship of the narrator, a childless Victorian-era retired soldier and London bachelor, with a young boy born to a working-class married couple in his neighbourhood.
Many places emphasise that the middle chapters of this book were extracted to be published as Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens, but for me those chapters are less of a draw than the developing relationship between the narrator and the young couple. The early chapters and the final, in particular, I found quite touching.
A powerful novel of friendship set in a traveling circus during World War II, The Orphan's Tale introduces two extraordinary women and their harrowing stories of sacrifice and survival
Sixteen-year-old Noa has been cast out in disgrace after becoming pregnant by a Nazi soldier and being forced to give up her baby. She lives above a small rail station, which she cleans in order to earn her keep… When Noa discovers a boxcar containing dozens of Jewish infants bound for a concentration camp, she is reminded of the child that was taken from her. And in a moment that will change the course of her life, she snatches one of the babies and flees into the snowy night.
Noa finds refuge with a German circus, but she must learn the flying trapeze act so she can blend in undetected, spurning the resentment of the lead aerialist, Astrid. At first rivals, Noa and Astrid soon forge a powerful bond. But as the facade that protects them proves increasingly tenuous, Noa and Astrid must decide whether their friendship is enough to save one another—or if the secrets that burn between them will destroy everything.
Truth and Beauty: A Friendship by Ann Patchett [Bookworm_Girl, bfisher, orlok] Overdrive, Scribd | Amazon US
What happens when the person who is your family is someone you aren't bound to by blood? What happens when the person you promise to love and to honor for the rest of your life is not your lover, but your best friend? In Truth & Beauty, her frank and startlingly intimate first work of nonfiction, Ann Patchett shines a fresh, revealing light on the world of women's friendships and shows us what it means to stand together.
Ann Patchett and Lucy Grealy met in college in 1981, and, after enrolling in the Iowa Writers' Workshop, began a friendship that would be as defining to both of their lives as their work was. In her critically acclaimed and hugely successful memoir, Autobiography of a Face, Lucy Grealy wrote about losing part of her jaw to childhood cancer, the years of chemotherapy and radiation, and then the endless reconstructive surgeries. In Truth & Beauty, the story isn't Lucy's life or Ann's life, but the parts of their lives they shared. This is a portrait of unwavering commitment that spans twenty years, from the long, cold winters of the Midwest, to surgical wards, to book parties in New York. Through love, fame, drugs, and despair, this book shows us what it means to be part of two lives that are intertwined.
Greyfriars Bobby by Eleanor Atkinson [Catlady, JSWolf, Bookworm_Girl] Public domain
The classic true story of a lovable Scottish dog whose loyalty knew no bounds
Each day, the cannon of Edinburgh Castle blasts a shot across town. It never fails to surprise Bobby, the silver-haired Skye terrier of Greyfriars Kirkyard, who fires back with a flurry of indignant yips. He always quiets down, though, because he knows it means it’s one o’clock—and one o’clock is when it’s time to eat. Bobby’s master, the shepherd Auld Jock, feeds the dog well, and Bobby repays him with limitless devotion. Everyone in Edinburgh knows that Bobby is a fine dog, but they have no idea just how loyal he really is.
When Jock dies, Bobby refuses to abandon his master, standing guard over his grave through wind and sleet and snow. No matter what obstacles stand in his way, Bobby remains steadfast—inspiring a city, a country, and the world.
A timeless tale of the special relationship between a man and his dog, Greyfriars Bobby has inspired generations of readers and was adapted into the Disney film of the same name.
Happy Easter and Happy Passover to all those who are celebrating and stay wary today to all.
Help us select the book that the New Leaf Book Club will read for May 2018. The theme is Doomed to Repeat It: History (fact and fiction).
The nominations will run through 7 AM EDT April 7, 2018. Each nomination requires a second and a third to make it to the poll, which will remain open for four days. The discussion of the selection will start on May 15, 2018. Don't forget to show up for the discussion of the April selection of the New Leaf Book Club, Making History, on April 15.
From Goodreads, where it has a rating of 4.24 stars:
The Curies' newly discovered element of radium makes gleaming headlines across the nation as the fresh face of beauty, and wonder drug of the medical community. From body lotion to tonic water, the popular new element shines bright in the otherwise dark years of the First World War.
Meanwhile, hundreds of girls toil amidst the glowing dust of the radium-dial factories. The glittering chemical covers their bodies from head to toe; they light up the night like industrious fireflies. With such a coveted job, these "shining girls" are the luckiest alive — until they begin to fall mysteriously ill.
But the factories that once offered golden opportunities are now ignoring all claims of the gruesome side effects, and the women's cries of corruption. And as the fatal poison of the radium takes hold, the brave shining girls find themselves embroiled in one of the biggest scandals of America's early 20th century, and in a groundbreaking battle for workers' rights that will echo for centuries to come.
Written with a sparkling voice and breakneck pace, The Radium Girls fully illuminates the inspiring young women exposed to the "wonder" substance of radium, and their awe-inspiring strength in the face of almost impossible circumstances. Their courage and tenacity led to life-changing regulations, research into nuclear bombing, and ultimately saved hundreds of thousands of lives...
At the beginning of the 1650s, England was in ruins – wrecked, impoverished, grief-stricken by plague and civil war. Yet shimmering on the horizon was an intoxicating possibility, a vision of paradise: Willoughbyland.
Ambitious and free-thinking adventurers poured in, attracted by the toleration, the optimism, the rich soil and the promise of the gold of El Dorado. It was England's most hopeful colony.
But the Restoration saw the end of political freedom, and brought in its place spies, war, rebellion and treachery. The advent of racial slavery poisoned everything. What started out as a heaven was soon to become one of the cruellest places on earth.
The history of Willoughbyland is a microcosm of empire, its heady attractions and fatal dangers.
The Prestige by Christopher Priest [Bookpossum, bfisher, gmw] Kobo: $US7.99, $C9.99, $A9.99 and GBP5.99
In 1878, two young stage magicians clash in the dark during the course of a fraudulent séance. From this moment on, their lives become webs of deceit and revelation as they vie to outwit and expose one another.
Their rivalry will take them to the peaks of their careers, but with terrible consequences. In the course of pursuing each other's ruin, they will deploy all the deception their magicians' craft can command--the highest misdirection and the darkest science.
Blood will be spilled, but it will not be enough. In the end, their legacy will pass on for generations...to descendants who must, for their sanity's sake, untangle the puzzle left to them.
Salt: A World History by Mark Kurlansky [Dngersone, gmw, Luffy] Goodreads US$16.99
The doomed to repeat part falls into the much-anticipated apocalypse-- if our modern world goes down the tubes, it'll be the people with access to salt and other food preservation methods who will likely survive.
Papyrus rolls and Twitter have much in common, as each was their generation's signature means of “instant” communication. Indeed, as Tom Standage reveals in his scintillating new book, social media is anything but a new phenomenon.
From the papyrus letters that Roman statesmen used to exchange news across the Empire to the advent of hand-printed tracts of the Reformation to the pamphlets that spread propaganda during the American and French revolutions, Standage chronicles the increasingly sophisticated ways people shared information with each other, spontaneously and organically, down the centuries. With the rise of newspapers in the nineteenth century, then radio and television, “mass media” consolidated control of information in the hands of a few moguls. However, the Internet has brought information sharing full circle, and the spreading of news along social networks has reemerged in powerful new ways.
A fresh, provocative exploration of social media over two millennia, Writing on the Wall reminds us how modern behavior echoes that of prior centuries-the Catholic Church, for example, faced similar dilemmas in deciding whether or how to respond to Martin Luther's attacks in the early sixteenth century to those that large institutions confront today in responding to public criticism on the Internet. Invoking the likes of Thomas Paine and Vinton Cerf, co-inventor of the Internet, Standage explores themes that have long been debated: the tension between freedom of expression and censorship; whether social media trivializes, coarsens or enhances public discourse; and its role in spurring innovation, enabling self-promotion, and fomenting revolution. As engaging as it is visionary, Writing on the Wall draws on history to cast new light on today's social media and encourages debate and discussion about how we'll communicate in the future.
The Appointment by Herta Müller [astrangerhere, Luffy, Bookworm_Girl] Amazon $9.99 / Kobo $9.99
From the description:
"I've been summoned. Thursday, ten sharp." Thus begins one day in the life of a young clothing-factory worker during Ceaucescu's totalitarian regime. She has been questioned before; this time, she believes, will be worse. Her crime? Sewing notes into the linings of men's suits bound for Italy. "Marry me," the notes say, with her name and address. Anything to get out of the country.
As she rides the tram to her interrogation, her thoughts stray to her friend Lilli, shot trying to flee to Hungary, to her grandparents, deported after her first husband informed on them, to Major Albu, her interrogator, who begins each session with a wet kiss on her fingers, and to Paul, her lover, her one source of trust, despite his constant drunkenness. In her distraction, she misses her stop to find herself on an unfamiliar street. And what she discovers there makes her fear of the appointment pale by comparison.
Herta Müller pitilessly renders the humiliating terrors of a crushing regime. Bone-spare and intense, The Appointment confirms her standing as one of Europe's greatest writers.
The computer revolution brought with it new methods of getting work done—just look at today's news for reports of hard-driven, highly-motivated young software and online commerce developers who sacrifice evenings and weekends to meet impossible deadlines. Tracy Kidder got a preview of this world in the late 1970s when he observed the engineers of Data General design and build a new 32-bit minicomputer in just one year. His thoughtful, prescient book, The Soul of a New Machine, tells stories of 35-year-old "veteran" engineers hiring recent college graduates and encouraging them to work harder and faster on complex and difficult projects, exploiting the youngsters' ignorance of normal scheduling processes while engendering a new kind of work ethic.
These days, we are used to the "total commitment" philosophy of managing technical creation, but Kidder was surprised and even a little alarmed at the obsessions and compulsions he found. From in-house political struggles to workers being permitted to tease management to marathon 24-hour work sessions, The Soul of a New Machine explores concepts that already seem familiar, even old-hat, less than 20 years later. Kidder plainly admires his subjects; while he admits to hopeless confusion about their work, he finds their dedication heroic. The reader wonders, though, what will become of it all, now and in the future. —Rob Lightner
Pulitzer Prize winner Tracy Kidder memorably records the drama, comedy, and excitement of one company's efforts to bring a new microcomputer to market.
Computers have changed since 1981, when The Soul of a New Machine first examined the culture of the computer revolution. What has not changed is the feverish pace of the high-tech industry, the go-for-broke approach to business that has caused so many computer companies to win big (or go belly up), and the cult of pursuing mind-bending technological innovations.
The Soul of a New Machine is an essential chapter in the history of the machine that revolutionized the world in the twentieth century.
Concrete: We use it for our buildings, bridges, dams, and roads. We walk on it, drive on it, and many of us live and work within its walls. But very few of us know what it is. We take for granted this ubiquitous substance, which both literally and figuratively comprises much of modern civilization’s constructed environment; yet the story of its creation and development features a cast of fascinating characters and remarkable historical episodes. This book delves into this history, opening readers’ eyes at every turn. [...]
A relevant quote from the introduction explains what to expect: "This is not a technical book [...] it is the human story of concrete, with emphasis on the people who discovered—and rediscovered—this building material, and who also pioneered novel ways of using it."
Most of us will have read fantasy stories where the ancients held great secrets, with concrete that has been true: for centuries it appeared the secret of making strong concrete had died with the Romans. We do now know how they did it, but the author laments that - unlike the Romans - we continue to make buildings, and even memorials, that may not long outlast the generation that built them.
[q_index]There’s one thing worse than dying. It’s coming back to do it again and again… When the alien Gitai invade, Keiji Kiriya is just one of many raw recruits shoved into a suit of battle armor and sent out to kill. Keiji dies on the battlefield, only to find himself reborn each morning to fight and die again and again. On the 158th iteration though, he sees something different, something out of place: the female soldier known
Help us select the book that the New Leaf Book Club will read for April 2018. The theme is It's All Relative: Time-ly books.
The nominations will run through 7 AM EST March 7, 2018. Each nomination requires a second and a third to make it to the poll, which will remain open for four days. The discussion of the selection will start on April 15, 2018. Don't forget to show up for the discussion of the March selection of the New Leaf Book Club, The Old Man and the Sea, on March 15.
The Easter Rising began at 12 noon, 24 April, 1916 and lasted for six short but bloody days, resulting in the deaths of innocent civilians, the destruction of many parts of Dublin, and the true beginning of Irish independence. The 1916 Rising was born out of the Conservative and Unionist parties' illegal defiance of the democratically expressed wish of the Irish electorate for Home Rule; and of confusion, mishap and disorganisation, compounded by a split within the Volunteer leadership. Tim Pat Coogan introduces the major players, themes and outcomes of a drama that would profoundly affect twentieth-century Irish history.
This is an alternate history work that transports a coal-mining town from West Virginia to a Germany in the middle of the 30 Years War. This book spawned an entire eco-system of books based on this alternate history, all of them meticulously researched and consistent.
I simply can't recommend this book too highly. Not only does it have some fairly unusual protagonists -- Mike Stearns is the Organizer for the local UMWA chapter and he is by no means the only one -- we'll also learn and appreciate an historical period I knew NOTHING about before this book, the 30 Years War. Because of the level of historical and scientific accuracy and the consistency used throughout all the books in the eco-system, we'll learn a lot while also having a great read. Really, it's a wonderful book!
FREEDOM AND JUSTICE -- AMERICAN STYLE 1632 And in northern Germany things couldn't get much worse. Famine. Disease. Religous war laying waste the cities. Only the aristocrats remained relatively unscathed; for the peasants, death was a mercy. 2000 Things are going OK in Grantville, West Virginia, and everybody attending the wedding of Mike Stearn's sister (including the entire local chapter of the United Mine Workers of America, which Mike leads) is having a good time. THEN, EVERYTHING CHANGED.... When the dust settles, Mike leads a group of armed miners to find out what happened and finds the road into town is cut, as with a sword. On the other side, a scene out of Hell: a man nailed to a farmhouse door, his wife and daughter attacked by men in steel vests. Faced with this, Mike and his friends don't have to ask who to shoot. At that moment Freedom and Justice, American style, are introduced to the middle of the Thirty Years' War.
The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North Amazon US | Kobo US - $9.99 | Available as an ebook in Australia, Canada and UK | Overdrive, Cloud (previously 3M) and Axis 360 Libraries and Scribd as an audiobook.
Because the Goodreads description is rather vague, I've copied a starred review from Booklist instead.
Harry August isn’t human. Well, that’s not quite accurate. He is human but a different sort of human from the rest of us: he was born (in the ladies’ washroom of a train station in England in 1919), he lives a certain number of years, and he dies—and then he’s born again, right back where he started, and a handful of years later his memories of his first life return. Harry is, like a few others, a kalachakra, an immortal who is constantly reborn, each time with all the memories of his previous lives. This wonderful novel, narrated by Harry, ranges back and forth in time as he recounts episodes from his various lives, but it’s all held together by a compelling mystery involving nothing less than the end of the world itself (a thousand years in the future).
The Wheel of time or wheel of history (also known as Kalachakra) is a concept found in several religious traditions and philosophies, notably religions of Indian origin such as Hinduism, Sikhism, and Buddhism, which regard time as cyclical and consisting of repeating ages. Many other cultures contain belief in a similar concept: notably, the Q'ero Indians in Peru, as well as the Hopi Indians of Arizona.
Fans of Douglas Adams and P. G. Wodehouse will love visiting Jasper Fforde's Great Britain, circa 1985, when time travel is routine, cloning is a reality (dodos are the resurrected pet of choice), and literature is taken very, very seriously: it’s a bibliophile’s dream. England is a virtual police state where an aunt can get lost (literally) in a Wordsworth poem and forging Byronic verse is a punishable offense. All this is business as usual for Thursday Next, renowned Special Operative in literary detection. But when someone begins kidnapping characters from works of literature and plucks Jane Eyre from the pages of Brontë's novel, Thursday is faced with the challenge of her career. Fforde's ingenious fantasy—enhanced by a Web site that re-creates the world of the novel—unites intrigue with English literature in a delightfully witty mix. Thursday’s zany investigations continue with six more bestselling Thursday Next novels,
So begins the Time Traveller’s astonishing firsthand account of his journey 800,000 years beyond his own era—and the story that launched H.G. Wells’s successful career and earned him his reputation as the father of science fiction. With a speculative leap that still fires the imagination, Wells sends his brave explorer to face a future burdened with our greatest hopes...and our darkest fears. A pull of the Time Machine’s lever propels him to the age of a slowly dying Earth. There he discovers two bizarre races—the ethereal Eloi and the subterranean Morlocks—who not only symbolize the duality of human nature, but offer a terrifying portrait of the men of tomorrow as well. Published in 1895, this masterpiece of invention captivated readers on the threshold of a new century. Thanks to Wells’s expert storytelling and provocative insight, The Time Machine will continue to enthrall readers for generations to come.
Stephen Fry tackles alternate history, asking: What if Hitler had never been born?
Michael Young is a graduate student at Cambridge who is completing his dissertation on the early life of Adolf Hitler. Leo Zuckerman is an aging German physicist and Holocaust survivor. Together they idealistically embark on an experiment to change the course of history. And with their success is launched a brave new world that is in some ways better than ours—but in most ways even worse.
Michael Paleologus, retired archaeologist and supposed descendant of the last Emperors of Byzantium, lives alone in a remote and rambling house in Cornwall. His son, Nicholas, is summoned to resolve a dispute which threatens to set his brothers and sisters against their aged and irascible father. An overly generous offer has been made for the house, but Michael refuses to sell.
Only after the stalemate is tragically broken do Nick and his siblings discover why their father was bound at all costs to reject the offer. Their desperate efforts to conceal the truth drag them into a deadly conflict with an unseen enemy, who seems as determined to force them into a confrontation with their family’s past as he is to conceal his own identity.
Nick realizes that the only way to escape from the trap their persecutor has set for them is to hunt him down, wherever -- and whoever -- he may be. But the hunt involves excavating a terrible secret from their father’s past. And, once that secret is known, nothing will ever be the same again.
Most Goddard books would fit a "time-ly" theme, but this one also fits a "relative" theme - being very much a family affair. Some great family interactions, an intriguing mystery, and Goddard's usual blending of past events into the present. It's an excellent read.
Elan Mastai's acclaimed debut novel is a story of friendship and family, of unexpected journeys and alternate paths, and of love in its multitude of forms.
It's 2016, and in Tom Barren's world, technology has solved all of humanity's problems—there's no war, no poverty, no under-ripe avocadoes. Unfortunately, Tom isn't happy. He's lost the girl of his dreams. And what do you do when you're heartbroken and have a time machine? Something stupid.
Finding himself stranded in a terrible alternate reality—which we immediately recognize as our 2016—Tom is desperate to fix his mistake and go home. Right up until the moment he discovers wonderfully unexpected versions of his family, his career, and the woman who may just be the love of his life.
Now Tom faces an impossible choice. Go back to his perfect but loveless life. Or stay in our messy reality with a soulmate by his side. His search for the answer takes him across continents and timelines in a quest to figure out, finally, who he really is and what his future—our future—is supposed to be.
Filled with humor and heart and packed with insight, intelligence, and mind-bending invention, All Our Wrong Todays is a powerful and moving story of life, loss, and love.
From the author of the acclaimed Crooked Heart comes another “smart, funny, ingenious, revealing tale of London life during the Second World War” (The Independent)—longlisted for the Orange Prize upon its original publication in England.
It is 1940. France has fallen, and only a narrow strip of sea lies between Great Britain and invasion. The war could go either way and everyone must do their bit. Young copy writer Catrin Cole is drafted into the Ministry of Information to help “write women” into propaganda films—something that the men aren’t very good at.
She is quickly seconded to the Ministry’s latest endeavor: a heart-warming tale of bravery and rescue at Dunkirk. It’s all completely fabricated, of course, but what does that matter when the nation’s morale is at stake? Since call-up has stripped the industry of its brightest and best, it is the callow, the jaded and the utterly unsuitable who must make up the numbers: Ambrose Hilliard, third most popular British film-star of 1924; Edith Beadmore, Madame Tussauds wardrobe assistant turned costumier; and Arthur Frith, whose peacetime job as a catering manager has not really prepared him for his sudden, unexpected elevation to Special Military Advisor.
Now in a serious world, in a nation under siege, they must all swallow their mutual distaste, ill-will, and mistrust to unite for the common good, for King and Country, and—in one case—for better or worse....
“Evans displays a fine eye for detail and for the absurdities involved in filming. She also brilliantly evokes the disruption and dangers of wartime London. This funny, heart-warming and beautifully crafted novel is a must-read.”—Daily Mail (London)
Long out of print, Shirley Hazzard's classic novel of love and memory.
A young Englishwoman working in Naples, Jenny comes to Italy fleeing a history that threatened to undo her. Alone in the fabulously ruined city, she idly follows up a letter of introduction from an acquaintance and so changes her life forever. Through the letter, she meets Giocanda, a beautiful and gifted writer, and Gianni, a famous Roman film director and Giocanda’s lover. At work she encounters Justin, a Scotsman whose inscrutability Jenny finds mysteriously attractive. As she becomes increasingly involved in the lives of these three, she discovers that the past--and the patterns of a lifetime--are not easily discarded. (From Goodreads.)
Shirley Hazzard was an Australian born writer, the daughter of diplomats, who among other things worked for British Intelligence in Hong Kong, monitoring civil war in China, and worked for the United Nations Secretariat in New York.
As a young intelligence officer stationed in Naples following its liberation from Nazi forces, Norman Lewis recorded the lives of a proud and vibrant people forced to survive on prostitution, thievery, and a desperate belief in miracles and cures. The most popular of Lewis's twenty-seven books, Naples '44 is a landmark poetic study of the agony of wartime occupation and its ability to bring out the worst, and often the best, in human nature. In prose both heartrending and comic, Lewis describes an era of disillusionment, escapism, and hysteria in which the Allied occupiers mete out justice unfairly and fail to provide basic necessities to the populace while Neapolitan citizens accuse each other of being Nazi spies, women offer their bodies to the same Allied soldiers whose supplies they steal for sale on the black market, and angry young men organize militias to oppose "temporary" foreign rule. Yet over the chaotic din, Lewis sings intimately of the essential dignity of the Neapolitan people, whose traditions of civility, courage, and generosity of spirit shine through daily. This essential World War II book is as timely a read as ever.
One of the most beloved tales of our time!
Science fiction, mystery, a passionate love story, and a detailed history of Old New York blend together in Jack Finney's spellbinding story of a young man enlisted in a secret Government experiment.
Transported from the mid-twentieth century to New York City in the year 1882, Si Morley walks the fashionable "Ladies' Mile" of Broadway, is enchanted by the jingling sleigh bells in Central Park, and solves a 20th-century mystery by discovering its 19th-century roots. Falling in love with a beautiful young woman, he ultimately finds himself forced to choose between his lives in the present and the past.
A story that will remain in the reader's memory, "Time and Again" is a remarkable blending of the troubled present and a nostalgic past, made vivid and extraordinarily moving by the images of a time that was...and perhaps still is.