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Book for April 07, 2017
Group 1
Meeting at Sylvia's place
The Underground Railroad
The Underground Railroad
Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. Life is hell for all the slaves, but especially bad for Cora. An outcast even among her fellow Africans, she is coming into womanhood—where even greater pain awaits. When Caesar, a recent arrival from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they decide to take a terrifying risk and escape. But matters do not go as planned. Though they manage to find a station and head north, they are being hunted.

In Whitehead’s ingenious conception, the Underground Railroad is no mere metaphor—engineers and conductors operate a secret network of tracks and tunnels beneath the Southern soil. Cora and Caesar’s first stop is South Carolina, in a city that initially seems like a haven. But the city’s placid surface masks an insidious scheme designed for its black denizens. And even worse: Ridgeway, the relentless slave catcher, is close on their heels. Forced to flee again, Cora embarks on a harrowing flight, state by state, seeking true freedom.

The Underground Railroad is at once a kinetic adventure tale of one woman’s ferocious will to escape the horrors of bondage and a shattering, powerful meditation on the history we all share.

Author: Colson Whitehead
Colson Whitehead (born November 6, 1969) is an American novelist. He is the author of six novels, including his debut work, the 1999 novel The Intuitionist, and the National Book Award-winning novel The Underground Railroad. A recipient of a Whiting Writers' Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a MacArthur Fellowship, Whitehead lives in New York City.
Book for April 12, 2017
Group 2
On the Move: A Life
On the Move: A Life
On the Move: A Life is the 2015 autobiography of Oliver Sacks. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/28/books/review-oliver-sacks-looks-at-his-life-in-on-the-move.html?_r=0

Author: Oliver Sacks
Oliver Wolf Sacks, CBE, FRCP (9 July 1933 – 30 August 2015) was a British neurologist, naturalist and author who spent his professional life in the United States. He believed that the brain is the "most incredible thing in the universe" and therefore important to study. He became widely known for writing best-selling case histories about his patients' disorders, with some of his books adapted for stage and film.

After Sacks received his medical degree from the Queen's College, Oxford in 1960, he interned at Middlesex Hospital (part of University College, London) before moving to the U.S. He then interned at Mount Zion Hospital in San Francisco and completed his residency in neurology and neuropathology at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). He relocated to New York in 1965, where he first worked under a paid fellowship in neurochemistry and neuropathology at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Upon realising that the neuro-research career he envisioned for himself would be a poor fit, in 1966 he began serving as neurologist at Beth Abraham Hospital's chronic-care facility in the Bronx. While there, he worked with a group of survivors of the 1920s sleeping sickness encephalitis lethargica, who had been unable to move on their own for decades. His treatment of those patients became the basis of his book Awakenings. In the period from 1966 to 1991 he was a neurological consultant to various New York City nursing homes, hospitals, and at the Bronx Psychiatric Center.

Sacks was the author of numerous best-selling books, mostly collections of case studies of people with neurological disorders. His writings have been featured in a wide range of media; the New York Times called him a "poet laureate of contemporary medicine", and "one of the great clinical writers of the 20th century". His books include a wealth of narrative detail about his experiences with patients, and how they coped with their conditions, often illuminating how the normal brain deals with perception, memory and individuality.

Awakenings (1973) was adapted into an Academy Award-nominated film in 1990, starring Robin Williams and Robert De Niro. He and his book Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain were the subject of "Musical Minds", an episode of the PBS series Nova. Sacks was awarded a CBE for services to literature in the Queen's Birthday Honours of 2008.
Book for May 03, 2017
Group 3
Meeting at Ingrid's place
Another Country
Another Country

was first published in 1962. The novel is set in Greenwich Village in the late 1950s. It portrays themes that were taboo at the time of its release including bisexuality, interracial couples and extramarital affairs.

The story begins with the downfall of jazz drummer Rufus Scott who begins a relationship with Leona, a white woman from the South and introduces her to his social circle. Although the relationship is initially frivolous, it turns more serious as they continue to live together. Rufus becomes habitually physically abusive of Leona and she is eventually admitted to a mental hospital. Rufus returns to Harlem in a deep depression and commits suicide by jumping off the George Washington Bridge.

The book goes on to explore the relationships between Rufus's friends and family: Eric, Vivaldo, Richard, his wife Cass and Rufus's sister Ida. In the wake of Rufus' suicide they share feelings of guilt and bewilderment. Vivaldo begins a relationship with Ida, which is strained by racial tension and Ida's bitterness after her brother's death. Eric, an actor and Rufus's first male lover, returns to New York after years living in France. Ida starts having an affair with Ellis, an advertising executive who promises to help with her career as a singer. Cass, who has become lonely due to Richard's writing career, has an affair with Eric after he arrives in New York. At the novel's climax, Cass tells Richard about her affair with Eric, Eric and Vivaldo have a sexual encounter, and Vivaldo learns about Ida's relationship with Ellis.

The book's third-person narrator is close to the characters' emotions.


Author: James Baldwin

James Arthur Baldwin (August 2, 1924 – December 1, 1987) was an American novelist, essayist, playwright, poet, and social critic. His essays, as collected in "Notes of a Native Son" (1955), explore racial, sexual, and class distinctions. Some of Baldwin's essays are book-length, for instance The Fire Next Time (1963), No Name in the Street (1972), and The Devil Finds Work (1976). Baldwin's novels and plays fictionalize personal dilemmas and inner obstacles amid social and psychological pressures.

Book for May 12, 2017
Group 1
Meeting at Anca's place
Homegoing
Homegoing
The unforgettable New York Times best seller begins with the story of two half-sisters, separated by forces beyond their control: one sold into slavery, the other married to a British slaver. Written with tremendous sweep and power, Homegoing traces the generations of family who follow, as their destinies lead them through two continents and three hundred years of history, each life indeliably drawn, as the legacy of slavery is fully revealed in light of the present day.

Author: Yaa Gyasi
Yaa Gyasi (born 1989) is a Ghanaian-American novelist whose debut novel, Homegoing, brought her, at age 26, National Book Foundation's "5 under 35" honors for 2016.
Book for June 07, 2017
Group 3
4 3 2 1
4 3 2 1

was first published in January 2017. The book simulates four versions of Archie Ferguson’s life by varying key events in the character's childhood. Auster thus endeavours to find the 'true Archie', the one independent of the events he couldn't influence.


Author: Paul Auster

Paul Benjamin Auster (born February 3, 1947) is an American author whose writing blends absurdism, existentialism, crime fiction, and the search for identity and personal meaning in works such as The New York Trilogy (1987), Moon Palace (1989), The Music of Chance (1990), The Book of Illusions (2002), and The Brooklyn Follies (2005). His books have been translated into more than forty languages.

Book for June 09, 2017
Group 1
When Breath Becomes Air
When Breath Becomes Air
At thirty-six, on the verge of completing a decade’s worth of training as a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. One day he was a doctor treating the dying, and the next he was a patient struggling to live. And just like that, the future he and his wife had imagined evaporated. When Breath Becomes Air chronicles Kalanithi’s transformation from a naïve medical student “possessed,” as he wrote, “by the question of what, given that all organisms die, makes a virtuous and meaningful life” into a neurosurgeon at Stanford working in the brain, the most critical place for human identity, and finally into a patient and new father confronting his own mortality.

What makes life worth living in the face of death? What do you do when the future, no longer a ladder toward your goals in life, flattens out into a perpetual present? What does it mean to have a child, to nurture a new life as another fades away? These are some of the questions Kalanithi wrestles with in this profoundly moving, exquisitely observed memoir.

Paul Kalanithi died in March 2015, while working on this book, yet his words live on as a guide and a gift to us all. “I began to realize that coming face to face with my own mortality, in a sense, had changed nothing and everything,” he wrote. “Seven words from Samuel Beckett began to repeat in my head: ‘I can’t go on. I’ll go on.’” When Breath Becomes Air is an unforgettable, life-affirming reflection on the challenge of facing death and on the relationship between doctor and patient, from a brilliant writer who became both.

Author: Paul Kalanithi
Paul Kalanithi (1 April 1977 – 9 March 2015) was an Indian-American neurosurgeon and writer. His book When Breath Becomes Air is a memoir about his life and illness battling stage IV metastatic lung cancer. It was posthumously published by Random House in January 2016.