Monday, March 06, 2006

Blogger's Book Club!

A few weeks ago, Vanessa and I decided that it would be fun to start our very own Blogger's Book Club. We figured that this would be a fun way for us all to share a book (since many of our readers seem to love books, and we often have similarities in interests) and then chat about it in our posts. We'd all decide on a book and then have a month or so to read it before we'd start posting about it.

Vanessa and I have come up with a short list of books that she and I were already thinking about reading. Feel free to "vote" or comment on any of the books here (or add your own suggestions, though at some point we will have to decide!) and we'll post the final selection on the 13th of March (book will then be discussed mid-April).

(1) Tete a Tete: Simone de Beauvoir & Jean Paul Sartre

From Publishers Weekly:
Though Rowley identifies her engaging and accessible chronicle as the "story of a relationship," it is in fact the story of the many relationships forged by two of the most brilliant, unorthodox and scandalous intellectuals of the 20th century: Beauvoir and Sartre, who from 1929 until Sartre's death in 1980 remained "essential" to each other but never monogamous. Without undue
prurience, Rowley (Richard Wright) romps through the major entanglements, loves, triangles, friendships and affairs engaged in by the authors of, respectively,the seminal feminist work The Second Sex andthe controversial autobiography Words. And to place these fascinating interactions into literary and biographical context, Rowley draws from vast stores of published and unpublished writings, correspondence and interviews. Though Beauvoir is the heroine of the book, Rowley offers revealing insights into Sartre: including the extent to which he juggled, depended upon and supported his many mistresses and the compulsive need he had to seduce women far more beautiful than he, despite his tepid sensuality. Intrigues aside, however, Rowley concludes that, for both Sartre and Beauvoir, the most enduring commitment was not to each other or to their many lovers but to their writing, politics and philosophical legacy. (Oct.)

(2) Vile Bodies by Evelyn Waugh

From AudioFile:
Evelyn Waugh's second novel, written in 1930, boasts an enjoyable collection of zanies. Adam Fenwick-Symes and Nina Blount, for example, are
continually becoming engaged and unengaged in the most polite and indifferent manner as his financial fortunes rise and fall. Mrs. Ape, the American evangelist, adds to the strange mix by coming to England with a group of chorines whom she calls her "angels." This satire of the London smart set relies on rich conversational rhythms and repartee, and Robert Hardy works wonders of versatility in his reading. He strikes the right vocal register and speed for each character, and he finds in the subtext touches of humor that the armchair reader might easily miss. Waugh's comedy is served well by Hardy's attentive, animated performance.

(3) Little, Big by John Crowly

Amazon book description:
Little, Big tells the epic story of Smoky Barnable -- an anonymous young man who meets and falls in love with Daily Alice Drinkwater, and goes to live with her in Edgewood, a place not found on any map. In an impossible mansion full of her relatives, who all seem to have ties to another world not far away, Smoky fathers a family and tries to learn what tale he has found himself in -- and how it is to end.

(4) Possession by A.S. Byatt

From Publishers Weekly:
Two contemporary scholars, each studying one of two Victorian poets, reconstruct their subjects' secret extramarital affair through poems, journal entries, letters and modern scholarly analysis of the period. PW called this Booker Prize winner "an ambitious and wholly satisfying work, a nearly perfect novel."

(5) Behind the Scenes at the Museum by Kate Atkinson

From Publishers Weekly:
The narrator's insistent voice and breezy delivery animates this enchanting first novel by a British writer who won one of the 1993 Ian St. James Awards for short stories. Ruby Lennox is a quirky, complex character who relates the events of her life and those of her dysfunctional family with equal parts humor, fervor and candor-starting with her moment of conception in York, England, in 1959: "I exist!" Ruby then describes the family she is to join. Her parents own a pet shop; her mother, Bunty, bitterly rues having married her philandering husband, George, and daydreams about what her life might have been. Ruby has two older sisters, willful Gillian and melancholy Patricia. Through its ambitious structure, the novel also charts five generations and more than a century of Ruby's family history, as reported in "footnotes" that follow relevant chapters.
(For example, a passage about a pink glass button reveals the story of its original owner, Ruby's great-grandmother Alice, who will abandon her young family and run off with a French magician.) Ruby's richly imagined account includes both the details of daily life and the several tragic events that punctuate the family's mundane existence. Though the "footnote" entries are not quite as gripping as those rendered in Ruby's richly vernacular, energetic recitation, Atkinson's ebullient narrative style captures the troubled Lennox family with wit and poignant accuracy.

(6) Caramelo by Sandra Cisneros

From AudioFile:
"Tell me a story, even if it's a lie." So begins Sandra Cisneros's delightful second novel. The Reyes clan piles into three cars to make a trip to the "other side" (Mexico City) to visit the Awful Grandmother and the Little Grandfather. Celaya (Lala) Reyes is the youthful observer of her family's vida loca. Cisneros has written a poetic, fictionalized family saga made memorable by a raucous
collection of characters. They slip in and out of time, weaving truth and "healthy lies" into the family's history. The story overflows with music, food, fantasy, and fiesta. Narrating the tale herself, Cisneros is most successful in her interpretation of the young Lala. Her reading lends charm and authenticity to this witty gem of a novel.


Blogger Y said...

Hmmmm, never been much of one for book clubs - too many memories of books I was forced to read in school, I guess. But I'd be willing to try. Don't really care which book - I hate all the high-brow descriptions. I usually choose books by reading a page or two in the store. So whatever one would be fine with me!

9:30 AM  
Blogger TessaJ said...

I tried to c & p an excerpt from the books, but Amazon wouldn't let me do so!

10:24 AM  
Blogger Miss V said...

Oh! I voted over at V's...but I'm going with Vile Bodies or Tete a Tete.

2:41 PM  
Blogger TessaJ said...

I saw that! Thanks for you input.

3:31 PM  
Blogger zlatickogirl said...

I vote for Caramelo...Sandra Cisneros is one of my favorite writers, but I haven't read this one yet.

8:40 AM  
Blogger TessaJ said...

FYI -- we'll probably end up randomly picking from the ones that people have suggested (doesn't seem like anyone's objected to anything, though a few have already read Possession). We'll post the results on Monday.

3:38 PM  

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