Thursday, April 07, 2011

A Second Chance: The Runner-Up Round

It's time to vote for the next group read. There was an excellent suggestion that rather than coming up with a new list of books that we choose from the runners up from the last few rounds. Since these came so close to being chosen, these books are being given a second chance. Please drop your vote in the comments area. Votes will be counted on Wednesday April 13. Discussion will start Thursday June 30.

A Novel Bookstore by Laurence Cossé: "Ivan, a one-time world traveler, and Francesca, a ravishing Italian heiress, are the owners of a bookstore that is anything but ordinary. Rebelling against the business of bestsellers and in search of an ideal place where their literary dreams can come true, Ivan and Francesca open a store where the passion for literature is given free rein. Tucked away in a corner of Paris, the store offers its clientele a selection of literary masterpieces chosen by a top-secret committee of likeminded literary connoisseurs. To their amazement, after only a few months, the little dream store proves a success. And that is precisely when their troubles begin. At first, both owners shrug off the anonymous threats that come their way and the venomous comments concerning their store circulating on the Internet, but when three members of the supposedly secret committee are attacked, they decide to call the police. One by one, the pieces of this puzzle fall ominously into place, as it becomes increasingly evident that Ivan and Francesca’s dreams will be answered with pettiness, envy and violence. "

The Yacoubian Building by Alaa Al Aswany: "All manner of flawed and fragile humanity reside in the Yacoubian Building, a once-elegant temple of Art Deco splendor now slowly decaying in the smog and bustle of downtown Cairo: a fading aristocrat and self-proclaimed "scientist of women"; a sultry, voluptuous siren; a devout young student, feeling the irresistible pull toward fundamentalism; a newspaper editor helplessly in love with a policeman; a corrupt and corpulent politician, twisting the Koran to justify his desires. These disparate lives careen toward an explosive conclusion in Alaa Al Aswany's remarkable international bestseller. Teeming with frank sexuality and heartfelt compassion, this book is an important window on to the experience of loss and love in the Arab world."

Cakes and Ale by W. Somerset Maugham: "Cakes and Ale is a delicious satire of London literary society between the Wars. Social climber Alroy Kear is flattered when he is selected by Edward Driffield's wife to pen the official biography of her lionized novelist husband, and determined to write a bestseller. But then Kear discovers the great novelist's voluptuous muse (and unlikely first wife), Rosie. The lively, loving heroine once gave Driffield enough material to last a lifetime, but now her memory casts an embarrassing shadow over his career and respectable image. Wise, witty, deeply satisfying, Cakes and Ale is Maugham at his best."

Passing by Nella Larson: "The tale is simple on the surface--a few adventures in Chicago and New York's high life, with lots of real people and race-mixing events described ... But underneath, it seethes with rage, guilt, sex, and complex deceptions. Irene fears losing her black husband to Clare, who seems increasingly predatory. Or is this all in Irene's mind? And is everyone wearing a mask? Larsen's book is a scary hall of mirrors, a murder mystery that can't resolve itself. It sticks with you."

Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson: "Winesburg, Ohio is Sherwood Anderson's masterpiece, a cycle of short stories concerning life in a small town at the end of the nineteenth century. At the center is George Willard, a young reporter who becomes the confidant of the town's solitary figures. Anderson's stories influenced countless American writers including Hemingway, Faulkner, Updike, Oates and Carver. "

Good Morning, Midnight by Jean Rhys: "Sasha Jensen has returned to Paris, the city of both her happiest moments and her most desperate. Her past lies in wait for her in cafes, bars, and dress shops, blurring all distinctions between nightmare and reality. When she is picked up by a young man, she begins to feel that she is still capable of desires and emotions. Few encounters in fiction have been so brilliantly conceived, and few have come to a more unforgettable end."

10 comments:

liliannattel said...

I voted for the Yacoubian Building last time, so I'll put my vote in again for that one.

J.C. Montgomery said...

Winesburg Ohio sounds great and a book I can actually get my hands on. Working in a bookstore has its perks. ;-)

Jodie said...

I feel like I've got The Yacoubian Building somewhere so my vote goes to that.

Stefanie said...

I think it's even more difficult to choose from a list of past runners up than it is to choose from a frehs list! I've been thinking about reading some Maugham lately so my vote goes to Cakes and Ale

Rohan Maitzen said...

Stefanie's right: for some reason this feels harder! Maybe it's because we've already invested in these titles once. I've been going back and forth, because I really want to read the Yacoubian Building, but in the end my vote here also goes to Cakes and Ale because it's one I think I might not read on my own.

Iliana said...

I'm going with Cakes & Ale followed by A Novel Bookstore.

martina said...

Cakes and Ale, since as Rohan said, it is one that I need a nudge to pick up and the precis speaks to me.

SFP said...

I'm voting for Cakes and Ale since Maugham's on my Fill in the Gaps list.

Dorothy W. said...

I think I'll go with the majority so far -- Cakes and Ale would be great to read.

litlove said...

I'm going to vote for Larsson's Passing, followed by Winesburg Ohio. Not that on the face of it, it looks like either could win! But really, I'll happily read any on the list (or indeed reread Cakes and Ale, which I read so long ago I have forgotten it anyway).