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May 15, 2005


Here are the nominations for June's Discussion:

[Voting is below book descriptions. You can only vote once. Voting will close Wednesday, May 18th. Thank you!]

Choice #1: The History of Love: A Novel by Nicole Krauss
A long-lost book reappears, mysteriously connecting an old man searching for his son and a girl seeking a cure for her widowed mother's loneliness.

Leo Gursky is just about surviving, tapping his radiator each evening to let his upstairs neighbor know he's still alive. But life wasn't always like this: sixty years ago, in the Polish village where he was born, Leo fell in love and wrote a book. And though Leo doesn't know it, that book survived, inspiring fabulous circumstances, even love. Fourteen-year-old Alma was named after a character in that very book. And although she has her hands full — keeping track of her brother, Bird (who thinks he might be the Messiah), and taking copious notes on How to Survive in the Wild — she undertakes an adventure to find her namesake and save her family. With consummate, spellbinding skill, Nicole Krauss gradually draws together their stories.

Choice #2: Herzog by Saul Bellow
A novel complex, compelling, absurd and realistic, Herzog became a classic almost as soon as it was published in 1964. In it Saul Bellow tells the tale of Moses E. Herzog, a tragically confused intellectual who suffers from the breakup of his second marriage, the general failure of his life and the specter of growing up Jewish in the middle part of the 20th century. He responds to his personal crisis by sending out a series of letters to all kinds of people. The letters in total constitute a thoughtful examination of his own life and that which has occurred around him. What emerges is not always pretty, but serves as gritty foundation for this absorbing novel.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Choice #3: Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
From the Booker Prize-winning author of The Remains of the Day and When We Were Orphans, comes an unforgettable edge-of-your-seat mystery that is at once heartbreakingly tender and morally courageous about what it means to be human.

Hailsham seems like a pleasant English boarding school, far from the influences of the city. Its students are well tended and supported, trained in art and literature, and become just the sort of people the world wants them to be. But, curiously, they are taught nothing of the outside world and are allowed little contact with it.

Within the grounds of Hailsham, Kathy grows from schoolgirl to young woman, but it's only when she and her friends Ruth and Tommy leave the safe grounds of the school (as they always knew they would) that they realize the full truth of what Hailsham is.

Never Let Me Go breaks through the boundaries of the literary novel. It is a gripping mystery, a beautiful love story, and also a scathing critique of human arrogance and a moral examination of how we treat the vulnerable and different in our society. In exploring the themes of memory and the impact of the past, Ishiguro takes on the idea of a possible future to create his most moving and powerful book to date.

Choice #4: The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
An epic tale of fathers and sons, of friendship and betrayal, that takes us from Afghanistan in the final days of the monarchy to the atrocities of the present.

The unforgettable, heartbreaking story of the unlikely friendship between a wealthy boy and the son of his father's servant, The Kite Runner is a beautifully crafted novel set in a country that is in the process of being destroyed. It is about the power of reading, the price of betrayal, and the possibility of redemption, and it is also about the power of fathers over sons-their love, their sacrifices, their lies.

The first Afghan novel to be written in English, The Kite Runner tells a sweeping story of family, love, and friendship against a backdrop of history that has not been told in fiction before, bringing to mind the large canvases of the Russian writers of the nineteenth century. But just as it is old-fashioned in its narration, it is contemporary in its subject-the devastating history of Afghanistan over the last thirty years. As emotionally gripping as it is tender, The Kite Runner is an unusual and powerful debut.

Choice #5: A Thread of Grace: A Novel by Mary Doria Russell
Set in Italy during the dramatic finale of World War II, this new novel is the first in seven years by the bestselling author of The Sparrow and Children of God.

It is September 8, 1943, and fourteen-year-old Claudette Blum is learning Italian with a suitcase in her hand. She and her father are among the thousands of Jewish refugees scrambling over the Alps toward Italy, where they hope to be safe at last, now that the Italians have broken with Germany and made a separate peace with the Allies. The Blums will soon discover that Italy is anything but peaceful, as it becomes overnight an open battleground among the Nazis, the Allies, resistance fighters, Jews in hiding, and ordinary Italian civilians trying to survive.

Mary Doria Russell sets her first historical novel against this dramatic background, tracing the lives of a handful of fascinating characters. Through them, she tells the little-known but true story of the network of Italian citizens who saved the lives of forty-three thousand Jews during the war's final phase. The result of five years of meticulous research, A Thread of Grace is an ambitious, engrossing novel of ideas, history, and marvelous characters that will please Russell's many fans and earn her even more.

[All of the book links lead to Powells, which has more information, including links to reviews.]

Vote Closed! Thanks!

Posted by Knit One Read Too at May 15, 2005 08:35 AM


Wow, that choice was hard... I have heard some great things about several of these books. Maybe we can make these choices for July's as well?

Thanks, Cara.

Posted by: Lolly at May 15, 2005 10:05 AM

I second that! I wasn't surprised to see that the three books that I wanted to choose were all tied at the time I voted. Thanks for such great choices and for challenging us to make "our" best selection.

Good job Cara!

Posted by: karon at May 15, 2005 10:56 AM

This was the hardest vote by far - so many great books (being the crazy book girl that I am, I actually already own them all). I can't wait for June's discussion. Thanks for all the time and effort you put into all of this.

Posted by: Leanne at May 15, 2005 11:29 AM

Aw, thanks! I'm glad this is a challenging pick. Disclosure time: I added the Bellow on the list because it's been in my queue for forever. And since he just died, I thought it might be a good read.

This whole project is so near and dear to my heart - I'm so glad you all enjoy it too!

Thank you!

Posted by: Knit One Read Too at May 15, 2005 11:46 AM

I also agree that whichever do not get chosen should be the July picks. Definitely adding all to my list ...

Posted by: Sara* at May 15, 2005 01:19 PM

I had a hard time as well. I haven't been keeping up on the book reviews of late and hadn't heard of any of these! Now I want to read them all:)

Posted by: Deb at May 15, 2005 01:43 PM

ooo, I can't wait! I'd be thrilled to read any of these!

Posted by: tara at May 15, 2005 03:00 PM

Very impressive list of books. I think we will be pleased with any of the books listed. They appear to be books of substance, depth of character and plot. I'm looking forward to seeing the results of the voting.

Thanks, Cara for the good choices!

Posted by: Diane at May 15, 2005 04:20 PM

I totally agree - I was looking through that list thinking how am I going to choose?

Good picks!

Posted by: Jackie at May 16, 2005 09:30 AM

Ditto--and even though the book that I voted for didn't make it, I'm not at all disappointed and have already ordered the winner from Amazon. Looking forward to it!

Posted by: Amy at May 18, 2005 11:02 PM