Author Topic: HAF Book Club: May Book Poll  (Read 502 times)

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HAF Book Club: May Book Poll
« on: April 17, 2017, 09:31:55 AM »
Descriptions of the choices given here.  I'll vote last and be the tie-breaker if we need one. 

A Man Called Ove, by Fredrik Backman
Meet Ove. He’s a curmudgeon—the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him “the bitter neighbor from hell.” But must Ove be bitter just because he doesn’t walk around with a smile plastered to his face all the time?
Behind the cranky exterior there is a story and a sadness. So when one November morning a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Ove’s mailbox, it is the lead-in to a comical and heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unexpected friendship, and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul. All of which will change one cranky old man and a local residents’ association to their very foundations.

All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr
Marie-Laure lives in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where her father works. When she is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.
In a mining town in Germany, Werner Pfennig, an orphan, grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find that brings them news and stories from places they have never seen or imagined. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments and is enlisted to use his talent to track down the resistance. Deftly interweaving the lives of Marie-Laure and Werner, Doerr illuminates the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another.

And the Mountains Echoed, by Khaled Hosseini
In this tale revolving around not just parents and children but brothers and sisters, cousins and caretakers, Hosseini explores the many ways in which families nurture, wound, betray, honor, and sacrifice for one another; and how often we are surprised by the actions of those closest to us, at the times that matter most. Following its characters and the ramifications of their lives and choices and loves around the globe—from Kabul to Paris to San Francisco to the Greek island of Tinos—the story expands gradually outward, becoming more emotionally complex and powerful with each turning page.

Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?, by Frans de Waal
What separates your mind from an animal’s? Maybe you think it’s your ability to design tools, your sense of self, or your grasp of past and future—all traits that have helped us define ourselves as the planet’s preeminent species. But in recent decades, these claims have eroded, or even been disproven outright, by a revolution in the study of animal cognition. Take the way octopuses use coconut shells as tools; elephants that classify humans by age, gender, and language; or Ayumu, the young male chimpanzee at Kyoto University whose flash memory puts that of humans to shame. Based on research involving crows, dolphins, parrots, sheep, wasps, bats, whales, and of course chimpanzees and bonobos, Frans de Waal explores both the scope and the depth of animal intelligence.

Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates
The New York Times - Michiko Kakutani
Inspired by James Baldwin's 1963 classic The Fire Next Time, Ta-Nehisi Coates's new book, Between the World and Me, is a searing meditation on what it means to be black in America today…[a] powerful and passionate book…  [written as a letter from father to son]

Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman, by Haruki Murakami
From the bestselling author of Kafka on the Shore and The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle comes this superb collection of twenty-four stories that generously expresses Murakami’s mastery of the form. From the surreal to the mundane, these stories exhibit his ability to transform the full range of human experience in ways that are instructive, surprising, and relentlessly entertaining.
Here are animated crows, a criminal monkey, and an iceman, as well as the dreams that shape us and the things we might wish for. Whether during a chance reunion in Italy, a romantic exile in Greece, a holiday in Hawaii, or in the grip of everyday life, Murakami’s characters confront grievous loss, or sexuality, or the glow of a firefly, or the impossible distances between those who ought to be closest of all.

Confessions of a Barbarian, by Edward Abbey
Ending with an entry written 12 days before his 1989 death at age 60, the diaries of the late environmentalist and novelist (The Monkeywrench Gang) are adolescent in spirit, with all the virtues and vices that word implies. Abbey is capable of startling self-righteousness; his fulminations against writers he considers second-rate seem to be motivated as much by jealousy as by genuine bewilderment at his rivals' success. Yet such moments are cut with welcome self-mockery: He calls himself ``E. Abbey, famous unknown author.'' Though he traveled over the world, he finds his spiritual home in the American Southwest, and some of his most moving writing here pays lush homage to the austere landscape or lashes out at those poised to destroy it. Abbey the lover is as vocal as the moralist: exuberantly priapic tributes to one woman after another fill these pages.

Crazy From the Heat, by David Lee Roth
David Lee Roth recounts with trademark showmanship and canny self-awareness the antics of the feverishly bacchanalian entertainment world. In the same gleefully honest and delightfully discursive voice his many fans have come to relish, Roth gives readers a backstage pass to his long strange trip from obscurity to rock stardom, his ups and downs with the Van Halens, and much more that will raise the eyebrows of even the most jaded music industry afficionado.

Dark Intelligence, by Neal Asher
Thorvald Spear has been brought back from the dead. Killed a century earlier by Penny Royal, an unstable AI who turned rogue in the middle of a human versus alien war, the resurrected Spear has one thing on his mind: revenge.  Crime lord Isobel Satomi got more than she bargained for when she struck a deal with Penny Royal. Turning part-AI herself gave her frightening power, but the upgrade came with horrifying repercussions—and it’s turning Isobel into something far from human.  Spear hires Isobel to track down Penny Royal, but as she continues her metamorphosis, it’s clear that Isobel’s monstrous transformations will eventually become uncontrollable. Will Spear finish his hunt before becoming the hunted?

The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark, by Carl Sagan
Casting a wide net through history and culture, Sagan examines and authoritatively debunks such celebrated fallacies of the past as witchcraft, faith healing, demons, and UFOs. And yet, disturbingly, in today's so-called information age, pseudoscience is burgeoning with stories of alien abduction, channeling past lives, and communal hallucinations commanding growing attention and respect. As Sagan demonstrates with lucid eloquence, the siren song of unreason is not just a cultural wrong turn but a dangerous plunge into darkness that threatens our most basic freedoms.

Genesis: The Scientific Quest for Life's Origin, by Robert M. Hazen
Life on Earth arose nearly 4 billion years ago, bursting forth from air, water, and rock. Though the process obeyed all the rules of chemistry and physics, the details of that original event pose as deep a mystery as any facing science. How did non-living chemicals become alive? While the question is (deceivingly) simple, the answers are unquestionably complex. Science inevitably plays a key role in any discussion of life's origins, dealing less with the question of why life appeared on Earth than with where, when, and how it emerged on the blasted, barren face of our primitive planet.

The Glass Bead Game, by Hermann Hesse
Set in the 23rd century, The Glass Bead Game is the story of Joseph Knecht, who has been raised in Castalia, the remote place his society has provided for the intellectual elite to grow and flourish. Since childhood, Knecht has been consumed with mastering the Glass Bead Game, which requires a synthesis of aesthetics and scientific arts, such as mathematics, music, logic, and philosophy, which he achieves in adulthood, becoming a Magister Ludi (Master of the Game).

The Gospel According to Jesus Christ, by José Saramago
A brilliant skeptic, José Saramago envisions the life of Jesus Christ and the story of his Passion as things of this earth: A child crying, the caress of a woman half asleep, the bleat of a goat, a prayer uttered in the grayish morning light. His idea of the Holy Family reflects the real complexities of any family, and—as only Saramago can—he imagines them with tinges of vision, dream, and omen. The result is a deft psychological portrait that moves between poetry and irony, spirituality and irreverence of a savior who is at once the Son of God and a young man. In this provocative, tender novel, the subject of wide critical discussion and wonder, Saramago questions the meaning of God, the foundations of the Church, and human existence itself.

Hillbilly Elegy by J. D. Vance
The Vance family story begins hopefully in postwar America. J. D.’s grandparents were “dirt poor and in love,” and moved north from Kentucky’s Appalachia region to Ohio in the hopes of escaping the dreadful poverty around them. They raised a middle-class family, and eventually their grandchild (the author) would graduate from Yale Law School, a conventional marker of their success in achieving generational upward mobility.

But as the family saga of Hillbilly Elegy plays out, we learn that this is only the short, superficial version. Vance’s grandparents, aunt, uncle, sister, and, most of all, his mother, struggled profoundly with the demands of their new middle-class life, and were never able to fully escape the legacy of abuse, alcoholism, poverty, and trauma so characteristic of their part of America. Vance piercingly shows how he himself still carries around the demons of their chaotic family history.

The Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood
It is the world of the near future, and Offred is a Handmaid in the home of the Commander and his wife. She is allowed out once a day to the food market, she is not permitted to read, and she is hoping the Commander makes her pregnant, because she is only valued if her ovaries are viable. Offred can remember the years before, when she was an independent woman, had a job of her own, a husband and child. But all of that is gone now...everything has changed.

The Invention of Nature, by Andrea Wulf
The acclaimed author of Founding Gardeners reveals the forgotten life of Alexander von Humboldt, the visionary German naturalist whose ideas changed the way we see the natural world—and in the process created modern environmentalism.

Norse Mythology, by Neil Gaiman
In Norse Mythology, Gaiman stays true to the myths in envisioning the major Norse pantheon: Odin, the highest of the high, wise, daring, and cunning; Thor, Odin’s son, incredibly strong yet not the wisest of gods; and Loki—son of a giant—blood brother to Odin and a trickster and unsurpassable manipulator.Gaiman fashions these primeval stories into a novelistic arc that begins with the genesis of the legendary nine worlds and delves into the exploits of deities, dwarfs, and giants. Once, when Thor’s hammer is stolen, Thor must disguise himself as a woman—difficult with his beard and huge appetite—to steal it back. More poignant is the tale in which the blood of Kvasir—the most sagacious of gods—is turned into a mead that infuses drinkers with poetry. The work culminates in Ragnarok, the twilight of the gods and rebirth of a new time and people.Through Gaiman’s deft and witty prose emerge these gods with their fiercely competitive natures, their susceptibility to being duped and to duping others, and their tendency to let passion ignite their actions, making these long-ago myths breathe pungent life again.

What Nietzsche Really Said, by Robert C. Solomon & Kathleen M. Higgins
Friedrich Nietzsche's aggressive independence, flamboyance, sarcasm, and celebration of strength have struck responsive chords in contemporary culture. More people than ever are reading and discussing his writings. But Nietzsche's ideas are often overshadowed by the myths and rumors that surround his sex life, his politics, and his sanity. In this lively and comprehensive analysis, Nietzsche scholars Robert C. Solomon and Kathleen M. Higgins get to the heart of Nietzsche's philosophy, from his ideas on "the will to power" to his attack on religion and morality and his infamous Übermensch (superman).

Wolf in White Van by John Darnielle
Isolated by a disfiguring injury since the age of seventeen, Sean Phillips crafts imaginary worlds for strangers to explore. As the creator of "Trace Italian"-a text-based role-playing game that's played through the mail-Sean guides subscribers through his intricately imagined terrain, turn by turn, as they search out sanctuary in a ravaged, savage future America. But when Lance and Carrie, two teenaged seekers of the Trace, take their play outside the game, disaster strikes, and Sean is called on to account for it. In the process, he is pulled back through time, toward the beginning and the climax: the moment of his own self-inflicted departure from the world in which most people live.
Sandy

  
"I think this is the prettiest world -- as long as you don't mind a little dying, how could there be a day in your whole life that doesn't have its splash of happiness?"  from The Kingfisher, by Mary Oliver

Dragonia

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Re: HAF Book Club: May Book Poll
« Reply #1 on: April 17, 2017, 02:43:15 PM »
Wow, you have done a really nice job with this! Thank you!
Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. ~ Plato (?)

Dragonia

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Re: HAF Book Club: May Book Poll
« Reply #2 on: April 17, 2017, 03:09:49 PM »
That was hard to vote! I want them all!
Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. ~ Plato (?)

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Re: HAF Book Club: May Book Poll
« Reply #3 on: April 17, 2017, 03:58:21 PM »
Since I'm reading quite a bit now, and I need more books to read, I'm going to read along this time.

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Re: HAF Book Club: May Book Poll
« Reply #4 on: April 19, 2017, 02:14:27 AM »
Really good synopsis of the the books Sandy. I salute you for the seminal work that you have done.   I have long held the belief that our HAFers are special people who "get it".

I have read three of the listed books. All of them worth a read. 

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Re: HAF Book Club: May Book Poll
« Reply #5 on: April 19, 2017, 04:03:41 PM »
Wow, you have done a really nice job with this! Thank you!

Yes. I whole-heartedly agree with Dragonia, you did a great job with this Books...thank you so much. :)

I've cast my votes, but will certainly be happy with whichever book wins as the list is quite good. I anxiously await the results.

 
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Re: HAF Book Club: May Book Poll
« Reply #6 on: April 20, 2017, 07:17:17 PM »
I'm going to have to think on this for a bit since I can't decide right now. I've already a couple of these, but would happily read them again. Earlier this year I read 1Q84 and have been wanting to read more by Haruki Murakami, but the others look great also.
Life is but a momentary glimpse of the wonder of the astonishing universe, and it is sad to see so many dreaming it away on spiritual fantasy.~Carl Sagan

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Re: HAF Book Club: May Book Poll
« Reply #7 on: April 23, 2017, 04:48:55 AM »
Looked the list over again before I try to make my own choices and realized I want to read them all, right away.
Sandy

  
"I think this is the prettiest world -- as long as you don't mind a little dying, how could there be a day in your whole life that doesn't have its splash of happiness?"  from The Kingfisher, by Mary Oliver

Velma

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Re: HAF Book Club: May Book Poll
« Reply #8 on: April 23, 2017, 05:32:34 AM »
Looked the list over again before I try to make my own choices and realized I want to read them all, right away.
You and I need to get together and party - and by party I mean raid local bookstores and then find somewhere quiet to read.  ;D
Life is but a momentary glimpse of the wonder of the astonishing universe, and it is sad to see so many dreaming it away on spiritual fantasy.~Carl Sagan

BooksCatsEtc

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Re: HAF Book Club: May Book Poll
« Reply #9 on: April 23, 2017, 09:32:22 AM »
Looked the list over again before I try to make my own choices and realized I want to read them all, right away.
You and I need to get together and party - and by party I mean raid local bookstores and then find somewhere quiet to read.  ;D

Somehow, I knew that.
Sandy

  
"I think this is the prettiest world -- as long as you don't mind a little dying, how could there be a day in your whole life that doesn't have its splash of happiness?"  from The Kingfisher, by Mary Oliver

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Re: HAF Book Club: May Book Poll
« Reply #10 on: April 23, 2017, 10:27:45 AM »
Good choices!  Thank you, Books.

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Re: HAF Book Club: May Book Poll
« Reply #11 on: April 24, 2017, 12:08:20 PM »
Well, that's it -- we're reading (I think actually re-reading in most cases) The Demon-Haunted World for May.  It's been awhile since I opened this one, I'm looking forward to a long overdue visit with Carl Sagan.
Sandy

  
"I think this is the prettiest world -- as long as you don't mind a little dying, how could there be a day in your whole life that doesn't have its splash of happiness?"  from The Kingfisher, by Mary Oliver

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Re: HAF Book Club: May Book Poll
« Reply #12 on: April 24, 2017, 01:29:52 PM »
Well, that's it -- we're reading (I think actually re-reading in most cases) The Demon-Haunted World for May.  It's been awhile since I opened this one, I'm looking forward to a long overdue visit with Carl Sagan.

I haven't read this book yet so I'm looking forward to getting started on it, if I have time tonight after work I may pick it up as ready to dive in.

This is a good way to end the month of April.
Every taco is hand rolled with exotic Mexican spices by genuine Mayan Virgins.
Or. Carlos, depending on who's available.

I really, really hate anti-semantics.

Dragonia

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Re: HAF Book Club: May Book Poll
« Reply #13 on: April 24, 2017, 02:07:18 PM »
I am all in for Sagan! I've never read this before, and can't wait to get started!
Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. ~ Plato (?)

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Re: HAF Book Club: May Book Poll
« Reply #14 on: April 24, 2017, 03:21:41 PM »
It has been quite a while since I've read it. Now to find my copy. All my bookshelves are double-stacked.
Life is but a momentary glimpse of the wonder of the astonishing universe, and it is sad to see so many dreaming it away on spiritual fantasy.~Carl Sagan