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Book for February 06, 2019
Group 3
Meeting at Maria's place
The Man in the High Castle
The Man in the High Castle

It's 1962 in the Pacific States, the slice of US territory occupied by Japan after an alternative ending to World War II. The world is dominated by Nazi Germany and victorious Japan itself fears to become the German's latest victim. A dishonest shopowner, a skilled artisan, a Japanese official and the artisan's wayward wife, Juliana, navigate a world they struggle to understand, often trying to divine the outcome of their plans by interpreting the ancient Chinese Book of Changes, the I Ching. At the same time another book is being whispered about, The Grasshopper Lies Heavy, a forbidden novel that envisages an alternative outcome of World War II, where the US have emerged victorious. The Nazis have already sent out an assassin to kill the author who lives in a place called 'the high castle' within the buffer zone between the two occupied parts of the former United States. Juliana begins a love affair with the assassin, but when she discovers his purpose she slits his throat. Then, claiming to have saved the author's life, she gains access to him and bullies him into admitting that he has compiled the entire novel by divining it phrase by phrase, using the I Ching. Therefore it must be true. However, analogously, in our own world, an author named Philip K. Dick used the I Ching to make decisions crucial to the plot of his novel The Man in the High Castle.

The 2015 TV series of the same name is loosely based on the Dick's book though it lacks the novel's conciseness and wit.


Author: Philip K. Dick
Philip Kindred Dick (December 16, 1928 – March 2, 1982) was an American novelist, short story writer and essayist whose published work is almost entirely accepted as being in the science fiction genre. Dick explored sociological, political and metaphysical themes in novels dominated by monopolistic corporations, authoritarian governments, and altered states. In his later works Dick's thematic focus strongly reflected his personal interest in metaphysics and theology. He often drew upon his own life experiences in addressing the nature of drug abuse, paranoia, schizophrenia, and transcendental experiences in novels such as A Scanner Darkly and VALIS.

The novel The Man in the High Castle bridged the genres of alternate history and science fiction, earning Dick a Hugo Award for Best Novel in 1963. Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said, a novel about a celebrity who awakens in a parallel universe where he is unknown, won the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for best novel in 1975. "I want to write about people I love, and put them into a fictional world spun out of my own mind, not the world we actually have, because the world we actually have does not meet my standards," Dick wrote of these stories. "In my writing I even question the universe; I wonder out loud if it is real, and I wonder out loud if all of us are real."

In addition to 44 published novels, Dick wrote approximately 121 short stories, most of which appeared in science fiction magazines during his lifetime. Although Dick spent most of his career as a writer in near-poverty, eleven popular films based on his works have been produced, including Blade Runner, Total Recall, A Scanner Darkly, Minority Report, Paycheck, Next, Screamers, The Adjustment Bureau and Impostor. In 2005, Time magazine named Ubik one of the hundred greatest English-language novels published since 1923. In 2007, Dick became the first science fiction writer to be included in The Library of America series.
Book for February 08, 2019
Group 1
Meeting at Anca's place
Before We Were Yours
Before We Were Yours
Memphis, 1939. Twelve-year-old Rill Foss and her four younger siblings live a magical life aboard their family’s Mississippi River shantyboat. But when their father must rush their mother to the hospital one stormy night, Rill is left in charge—until strangers arrive in force. Wrenched from all that is familiar and thrown into a Tennessee Children’s Home Society orphanage, the Foss children are assured that they will soon be returned to their parents—but they quickly realize the dark truth. At the mercy of the facility’s cruel director, Rill fights to keep her sisters and brother together in a world of danger and uncertainty.

Aiken, South Carolina, present day. Born into wealth and privilege, Avery Stafford seems to have it all: a successful career as a federal prosecutor, a handsome fiancé, and a lavish wedding on the horizon. But when Avery returns home to help her father weather a health crisis, a chance encounter leaves her with uncomfortable questions and compels her to take a journey through her family’s long-hidden history, on a path that will ultimately lead either to devastation or to redemption.

Based on one of America’s most notorious real-life scandals—in which Georgia Tann, director of a Memphis-based adoption organization, kidnapped and sold poor children to wealthy families all over the country—Lisa Wingate’s riveting, wrenching, and ultimately uplifting tale reminds us how, even though the paths we take can lead to many places, the heart never forgets where we belong.

Author: Lisa Wingate
Lisa Wingate is a former journalist, inspirational speaker, and New York Times Bestselling Author of thirty novels. Her work has won or been nominated for many awards, including the Pat Conroy Southern Book Prize, the Oklahoma Book Award, The Carol Award, and the Christy Award. Her blockbuster hit, Before We Were Yours remained on the New York Times Bestseller List for over ten months, was Publishers Weekly’s #3 longest running bestseller of 2017, and was voted by readers as the 2017 Goodreads Choice Award winner for historical fiction. Before We Were Yours has been a book club favorite worldwide and to date has sold over one million copies.
Book for February 13, 2019
Group 2
The Bricks that Built the Houses
The Bricks that Built the Houses
Becky, Harry, and Leon are leaving London in a fourth-hand Ford with a suitcase full of stolen money, in a mess of tangled loyalties and impulses. But can they truly leave the city that's in their bones? Kate Tempest's novel reaches back through time--through tensely quiet dining rooms and crassly loud clubs--to the first time Becky and Harry meet. It sprawls through their lives and those they touch--of their families and friends and faces on the street--revealing intimacies and the moments that make them. And it captures the contemporary struggle of urban life, of young people seeking jobs or juggling jobs, harboring ambitions and making compromises.

Author: Kate Tempest
Kate Tempest (born Kate Esther Calvert, 22 December 1985) is an English poet, musical artist, novelist and playwright. In 2013, she won the Ted Hughes Award for her work Brand New Ancients. She was named a Next Generation Poet by the Poetry Society, a once-a-decade accolade. Her albums Everybody Down and Let Them Eat Chaos have been nominated for the Mercury Music Prize. The latter's accompanying poetry book (also titled Let Them Eat Chaos) was nominated for the Costa Book of the Year in the Poetry Category. Her debut novel The Bricks That Built the Houses was a Sunday Times bestseller and won the 2017 Books Are My Bag Readers Award for Breakthrough Author. She was nominated as Best Female Solo Performer at the 2018 Brit Awards.
Book for February 20, 2019
Group 4
Meeting at Heidi's place
The Year of Magical Thinking
The Year of Magical Thinking
Several days before Christmas 2003, John Gregory Dunne and Joan Didion saw their only daughter, Quintana, fall ill with what seemed at first flu, then pneumonia, then complete septic shock. She was put into an induced coma and placed on life support. Days later–the night before New Year's Eve–the Dunnes were just sitting down to dinner after visiting the hospital when John Gregory Dunne suffered a massive and fatal coronary. In a second, this close, symbiotic partnership of forty years was over. Four weeks later, their daughter pulled through. Two months after that, arriving at LAX, she collapsed and underwent six hours of brain surgery at UCLA Medical Center to relieve a massive hematoma. This powerful book is Didion's attempt to make sense of the "weeks and then months that cut loose any fixed idea I ever had about death, about illness . . . about marriage and children and memory . . . about the shallowness of sanity, about life itself."

Author: Joan Didion
born December 5, 1934 is an American journalist and writer of novels, screenplays, and autobiographical works. Didion is best known for her literary journalism and memoirs. In her novels and essays, Didion explores the disintegration of American morals and cultural chaos; the overriding theme of her work is individual and social fragmentation. In 2005, she won the National Book Award for Nonfiction and was a finalist for both the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Pulitzer Prize for Biography/Autobiography for The Year of Magical Thinking.
Book for March 06, 2019
Group 3
Meeting at Vicky's place
Submission (Soumission)
Submission (Soumission)

The book's main character François is a literary scholar in his mid forties who teaches at a University in Paris, a specialist in the 19th century French author Joris-Karl Huysmans.François, although much preoccupied with his cooling libido and increasing loneliness is suddenly electrified by events in national politics that have been brewing for a while and now seem to be taking an alarming turn as presidential elections are being held. After the first ballot the Front National is ahead of the newly formed Muslim Brotherhood Party and the Socialists. In order to avoid Marine Le Pen as President of the Republic the Socialists conduct secret negotiations with the Muslim Brothers which eventually result in a Muslim fanatic being elected as President, Mohammed Ben-Abbes, who had initially camouflaged himself as a moderate. A Muslim social order is introduced in France, polygamy becomes the new norm and non-Muslims are fired from their university positions. The Muslim dictator plans the unification of North Africa with a Muslim Europe. At the end of the novel, François, having initially fled to the country, contemplates conversion to Islam with the prospect of a second, better life, with a prestigious job and wives a plenty.

On the day Soumission was published, the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, having dedicated its cover to a caricature of Houellebecq, was attacked by Islamist terrorists, twelve people were killed, eleven others injured.


Author: Michel Houellebecq

Michel Houellebecq (French: [miʃɛl wɛlbɛk]; born Michel Thomas; 26 February 1956, is a French author, filmmaker, and poet. Houellebecq published his first novel, Whatever, in 1994. His next novel, Atomised (Les Particules élémentaires), published in 1998, brought international attention. Platform followed in 2001. In 2010 Houellebecq published La Carte et le Territoire (published the same year in English as The Map and the Territory) which won the Prix Goncourt; and, in 2015, Submission (Soumission). He published several books of poems, including The Art of Struggle (Le sens du combat) in 1996. In 2002, when during a publicity tour for his controversial novel Platform he called Islam "stupid" he was charged for inciting racial and religious hatred. But the charges were ultimately dismissed.

Book for March 08, 2019
Group 1
Less
Less
Who says you can’t run away from your problems? You are a failed novelist about to turn fifty. A wedding invitation arrives in the mail: your boyfriend of the past nine years is engaged to someone else. You can’t say yes–it would be too awkward–and you can’t say no–it would look like defeat. On your desk are a series of invitations to half-baked literary events around the world.

QUESTION: How do you arrange to skip town?

ANSWER: You accept them all.What would possibly go wrong?

Arthur Less will almost fall in love in Paris, almost fall to his death in Berlin, barely escape to a Moroccan ski chalet from a Saharan sandstorm, accidentally book himself as the (only) writer-in-residence at a Christian Retreat Center in Southern India, and encounter, on a desert island in the Arabian Sea, the last person on Earth he wants to face. Somewhere in there: he will turn fifty. Through it all, there is his first love. And there is his last. Because, despite all these mishaps, missteps, misunderstandings and mistakes, Less is, above all, a love story.

A scintillating satire of the American abroad, a rumination on time and the human heart, a bittersweet romance of chances lost, by an author The New York Times has hailed as “inspired, lyrical,” “elegiac,” “ingenious,” as well as “too sappy by half,” Less shows a writer at the peak of his talents raising the curtain on our shared human comedy.

Less won the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. In reporting the award, the Associated Press accidentally wrote the novel's title as "Fearless." The book also was a New York Times best seller, won the Northern California Book Award, and was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Fiction.

Author: Andrew Sean Greer
Andrew Sean Greer was born in November 1970, in Washington, D.C., the child of two scientists. He grew up in Rockville, Maryland. He is an identical twin. He graduated from Georgetown Day School. He lives part time in Italy. He is the author of six works of fiction. Greer taught at Freie Universität Berlin and the Iowa Writers Workshop. He was a finalist for the Premio von Rezzori for a work translated into Italian, as well as a Today Show pick, a New York Public Library Cullman Center Fellow, and NEA Fellow, and a judge for the National Book Award.
Book for March 20, 2019
Group 4
Educated
Educated
Tara Westover was 17 the first time she set foot in a classroom. Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, she prepared for the end of the world by stockpiling home-canned peaches and sleeping with her "head-for-the-hills bag". In the summer she stewed herbs for her mother, a midwife and healer, and in the winter she salvaged in her father's junkyard. Her father forbade hospitals, so Tara never saw a doctor or nurse. Gashes and concussions, even burns from explosions, were all treated at home with herbalism. The family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure the children received an education and no one to intervene when one of Tara's older brothers became violent. Then, lacking any formal education, Tara began to educate herself. She taught herself enough mathematics and grammar to be admitted to Brigham Young University, where she studied history, learning for the first time about important world events like the Holocaust and the civil rights movement. Her quest for knowledge transformed her, taking her over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge. Only then would she wonder if she'd traveled too far, if there was still a way home. Educated is an account of the struggle for self-invention. It is a tale of fierce family loyalty and of the grief that comes with severing the closest of ties. With the acute insight that distinguishes all great writers, Westover has crafted a universal coming-of-age story that gets to the heart of what an education is and what it offers: the perspective to see one's life through new eyes and the will to change it.

Author: Tara Westover
Tara Westover (born September 1986) is an American memoirist, essayist and historian. Born in Idaho to a father opposed to public education, she never attended school. She spent her days working in her father's junkyard or stewing herbs for her mother, a self-taught herbalist and midwife. She was seventeen the first time she set foot in a classroom. After that first encounter with education, she pursued learning for a decade, graduating magna cum laude from Brigham Young University in 2008 and subsequently winning a Gates Cambridge Scholarship. She earned an MPhil from Trinity College, Cambridge in 2009, and in 2010 was a visiting fellow at Harvard University. She returned to Cambridge, where she was awarded a PhD in history in 2014.
Book for April 03, 2019
Group 3
Orlando: A Biography
Orlando: A Biography

was first published on 11 October 1928. The book stages the adventures of a poet who is born as a male nobleman in England during the reign of Elizabeth I, undergoes a mysterious sex change at age 30, and lives on for more than 300 years into modern times. During her long life she meets the key figures of English literary history. The satire Orlando: A Biography is today considered a feminist classic.


Author: Virginia Woolf
Adeline Virginia Woolf (1882 – 1941) was an English writer who is considered one of the foremost modernists of the twentieth century, and a pioneer in the use of stream of consciousness as a narrative device. Born in an affluent household in Kensington, London, she attended the King's College London and was acquainted with the early reformers of women's higher education. Woolf began writing professionally in 1900.

During the interwar period, Woolf was a significant figure in London literary society and a central figure in the influential Bloomsbury Group of intellectuals. She published her first novel The Voyage Out in 1915, through the Hogarth Press, a publishing house that she established with her husband, Leonard Woolf. Her best-known works include the novels Mrs Dalloway (1925), To the Lighthouse (1927) and Orlando (1928), and the book-length essay "A Room of One's Own" (1929).
Book for April 12, 2019
Group 1
A Place For Us
A Place For Us
As an Indian wedding gathers a family back together, parents Rafiq and Layla must reckon with the choices their children have made.

There is Hadia: their headstrong, eldest daughter, whose marriage is a match of love and not tradition. Huda, the middle child, determined to follow in her sister’s footsteps. And lastly, their estranged son, Amar, who returns to the family fold for the first time in three years to take his place as brother of the bride.

What secrets and betrayals have caused this close-knit family to fracture? Can Amar find his way back to the people who know and love him best?

A Place for Us takes us back to the beginning of this family’s life: from the bonds that bring them together, to the differences that pull them apart. All the joy and struggle of family life is here, from Rafiq and Layla’s own arrival in America from India, to the years in which their children -- each in their own way -- tread between two cultures, seeking to find their place in the world, as well as a path home.

A Place for Us is a book for our times: an astonishingly tender-hearted novel of identity and belonging, and a resonant portrait of what it means to be an American family today. It announces Fatima Farheen Mirza as a major new literary talent.

Author: Fatima Farheen Mirza
Fatima Farheen Mirza was born in 1991 and raised in California. She is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and a recipient of the Michener-Copernicus Fellowship. A Place For Us is her debut novel.
Book for April 17, 2019
Group 4
Kitchen Confidential
Kitchen Confidential
Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly is a New York Times bestselling non-fiction book written by American chef Anthony Bourdain, first published in 2000. In 1999, Bourdain's essay "Don't Eat Before Reading This" was published in the New Yorker. This served as the foundation for Kitchen Confidential. Released in 2000, the book is both Bourdain's professional memoir and a behind-the-scenes look at restaurant kitchens. The book is known for its treatment of the professional culinary industry, which he describes as an intense, unpleasant, and sometimes hazardous workplace staffed by who he describes as misfits. Bourdain believes that the workplace is not for hobbyists and that anyone entering the industry without a masochistic, irrational dedication to cooking will be deterred. The book alternates between a confessional narrative and an industry commentary, providing insightful and humorous anecdotes on the cooking trade. Bourdain has cited George Orwell's Down and Out in Paris and London (1933), with its behind-the-scenes examination of the restaurant business in 1920s Paris, as an important influence on the book's themes and tone. Bourdain details some of his personal misdeeds and weaknesses, including drug use. He explains how restaurants function economically and warns consumers of the various tricks of restaurateurs.

Author: Anthony Bourdain
Anthony Michael Bourdain (June 25, 1956 – June 8, 2018) was an American celebrity chef, author, travel documentarian, and television personality who starred in programs focusing on the exploration of international culture, cuisine, and the human condition. He was considered one of the most influential chefs in the world. Bourdain was a 1978 graduate of The Culinary Institute of America and a veteran of a number of professional kitchens in his long career, which included many years spent as executive chef at Brasserie Les Halles in Manhattan. He first became known for his bestselling book Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly (2000). In 2013, he began a three-season run as a judge on The Taste, and concurrently switched his travelogue programming to CNN to host Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown. Though best known for his culinary achievements and television presentations, along with several books on food and cooking and travel adventures, Bourdain also wrote both fiction and historical nonfiction. On June 8, 2018, Bourdain committed suicide while on location in France for Parts Unknown.