tPF Book Club: Time to vote on our first book!

?

What should be our first book?

  1. Au Paris

  2. The Pact

  3. All But My Life

  4. A Thousand Splendid Suns

  5. Into the Wild

  6. The Road

  7. Water for Elephants

  8. Babyville

  9. Bitter is the New Black

  10. The Piano Tuner

  11. Slow Man

Multiple votes are allowed.
Results are only viewable after voting.
  1. Hey guys!

    I guess it's time to get things rolling on our book club. I have read all of the comments that were left in this post and will be putting all of the suggested books up for voting.

    So here's the list of books we've got, and their Amazon.com descriptions!

    Au Paris by Rachel Spencer

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    http://www.amazon.com/Au-Paris-Rachel-Spencer/dp/0806527978/ref=pd_bbs_1/103-7196679-7425437?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1189538414&sr=8-1
    Description:
    While older readers might not relate to Spencer's dramatic declaration ("I had woken up at age 23 to realize I was living a life I had never planned"), 20-somethings fresh out of college just might cotton to the latest in nanny memoirs as Spencer narrates her journey from cubicle to croissants, traveling to Paris in order to try her luck as an au pair for a wealthy Parisian family. Visions of shopping trips are quickly replaced with the more quotidian aspects of cooking, cleaning and caring for three children in a foreign country where a simple shopping trip can turn into an adventure. Spencer's portrait of the family she works for is not always flattering and can even become uncomfortable as she describes a particular evening sharing a meal and a couple of bottles of wine with the monsieur of the house. A week in the French countryside exposes Spencer to the highs and lows of country life, giving her a new appreciation for the overwhelming bustle of the city. In this light read, Spencer nicely describes the charm of Paris and the quirks of the French, but her constant surprise at being treated as an employee, as well as her repetitive descriptions of her love of espresso grows tiresome. (Dec.)
    Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

    The Pact by Jodi Picoult

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    http://www.amazon.com/Pact-Love-Story-Jodi-Picoult/dp/0061150142/ref=pd_bbs_sr_2/103-7196679-7425437?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1190212341&sr=1-2
    Description:
    Until the phone calls came at three o'clock on a November morning, the Golds and their neighbors, the Hartes, had been inseparable. It was no surprise to anyone when their teenage children, Chris and Emily, began showing signs that their relationship was moving beyond that of lifelong friends. But now seventeen-year-old Emily is dead—shot with a gun her beloved and devoted Chris pilfered from his father's cabinet as part of an apparent suicide pact—leaving two devastated families stranded in the dark and dense predawn, desperate for answers about an unthinkable act and the children they never really knew.
    From New York Times bestselling author Jodi Picoult—one of the most powerful writers in contemporary fiction—comes a riveting, timely, heartbreaking, and terrifying novel of families in anguish and friendships ripped apart by inconceivable violence.




    I Know This Much is True by Wally Lamb

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    http://www.amazon.com/Know-This-Much-True-Oprahs/dp/0006513239/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/103-7196679-7425437?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1190212489&sr=1-1
    Description:
    This much is true for sure: Lamb's second novel (after the bestselling, Oprah-selected She's Come Undone) is a hefty read. Some may be daunted by its length, its seemingly obsessive inclusion of background details and its many digressions. The topics it unflinchingly exploresAmental illness, dysfunctional families, domestic abuseAare rendered with unsparing candor. But thanks to well-sustained dramatic tension, funky gallows humor and some shocking surprises, this sinuous story of one family's dark secrets and recurring patterns of behavior largely succeeds in its ambitious reach. The narrative explores the theme of sibling responsibility, depicting the moral and emotional conundrum of an identical twin whose love for his afflicted brother is mixed with resentment, bitterness and guilt. Narrator Dominick Birdsey, once a high-school history teacher and now, at 40, a housepainter in upstate Connecticut, relates the process that led to his twin Thomas's schizophrenic paranoia and the resulting chaos in both their lives. The book opens with a horrific scene in which Thomas slices off his right hand, declaring it a sacrifice demanded by God. Flashbacks illuminate the boys' difficult childhoods: illegitimate, they never knew their father; diffident, gentle Thomas was verbally and physically abused by their bullying stepfather, who also terrorized their ineffectual mother. Scenes from the pivotal summer of 1969, when Dominick betrayed Thomas and others in crucial ways, are juxtaposed with his current life: his frustrating relationship with his scatterbrained live-in, Joy; his enduring love for his ex-wife, Dessa; his memories of their baby's death and of his mother's sad and terrified existence. All of this unfolds against his urgent need to release Thomas from a mental institution and the psychiatric sessions that finally force Dominick to acknowledge his own self-destructive impulses. Lamb takes major risks in spreading his narrative over more than 900 pages. Long stretches are filled with the raunchy, foul-mouthed humor of teenaged Dominick and his friends. Yet the details of working-class life, particularly the prevalence of self-righteous male machismo and domestic brutality, ring absolutely true. Though the inclusion of a diary written by the twins' Sicilian immigrant grandfather may seem an unnecessary digression at first, its revelations add depth and texture to the narrative. Lastly, what seems a minor subplot turns out to hold the key to many secrets. In tracing Dominick's helplessness against the abuse of power on many levels, Lamb creates a nuanced picture of a flawed but decent man. And the questions that suspensefully permeate the novelAthe identity of the twins' father; the mystery of the inscription on their grandfather's tomb; the likelihood of Dominick's reconciliation with his ex-wifeAcontribute to a fully developed and triumphantly resolved exploration of one man's suffering and redemption. BOMC main selection; author tour; simultaneous audio.

    All But My Life by Gerda Weissmann Klein

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    http://www.amazon.com/All-But-My-Life-Memoir/dp/0809015803/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/103-7196679-7425437?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1190212577&sr=1-1
    Description:
    The basis for the Emmy-winning documentary ONE SURVIVOR REMEMBERS, this is the memoir of a young Polish Jewess's enslavement by the Nazis and her ultimate liberation by American soldiers. Grace Conlin takes a detached approach, affecting the pretentious fatalism that lazy actors use to represent tragic dignity. Her heroine lacks the author's endearing, transcendent life force. Otherwise, both While this narrator possesses a pleasant, expressive voice compatible with Klein's straightforward grace, her narration doesn't do justice to all the resonances of the text. Perhaps, considering the subject, that is merciful. Y.R.

    A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

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    http://www.amazon.com/Thousand-Splendid-Suns-Khaled-Hosseini/dp/1594489505/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/103-7196679-7425437?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1190212668&sr=1-1
    Description:
    Afghan-American novelist Hosseini follows up his bestselling The Kite Runner with another searing epic of Afghanistan in turmoil. The story covers three decades of anti-Soviet jihad, civil war and Taliban tyranny through the lives of two women. Mariam is the scorned illegitimate daughter of a wealthy businessman, forced at age 15 into marrying the 40-year-old Rasheed, who grows increasingly brutal as she fails to produce a child. Eighteen later, Rasheed takes another wife, 14-year-old Laila, a smart and spirited girl whose only other options, after her parents are killed by rocket fire, are prostitution or starvation. Against a backdrop of unending war, Mariam and Laila become allies in an asymmetrical battle with Rasheed, whose violent misogyny—"There was no cursing, no screaming, no pleading, no surprised yelps, only the systematic business of beating and being beaten"—is endorsed by custom and law. Hosseini gives a forceful but nuanced portrait of a patriarchal despotism where women are agonizingly dependent on fathers, husbands and especially sons, the bearing of male children being their sole path to social status. His tale is a powerful, harrowing depiction of Afghanistan, but also a lyrical evocation of the lives and enduring hopes of its resilient characters. (May)
    Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.




    ....More to come in a moment!
     
  2. Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

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    http://www.amazon.com/Into-Wild-Jon-Krakauer/dp/0385486804/ref=pd_bbs_2/103-7196679-7425437?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1190212781&sr=1-2
    Description:
    After graduating from Emory University in Atlanta in 1992, top student and athlete Christopher McCandless abandoned his possessions, gave his entire $24,000 savings account to charity and hitchhiked to Alaska, where he went to live in the wilderness. Four months later, he turned up dead. His diary, letters and two notes found at a remote campsite tell of his desperate effort to survive, apparently stranded by an injury and slowly starving. They also reflect the posturing of a confused young man, raised in affluent Annandale, Va., who self-consciously adopted a Tolstoyan renunciation of wealth and return to nature. Krakauer, a contributing editor to Outside and Men's Journal, retraces McCandless's ill-fated antagonism toward his father, Walt, an eminent aerospace engineer. Krakauer also draws parallels to his own reckless youthful exploit in 1977 when he climbed Devils Thumb, a mountain on the Alaska-British Columbia border, partly as a symbolic act of rebellion against his autocratic father. In a moving narrative, Krakauer probes the mystery of McCandless's death, which he attributes to logistical blunders and to accidental poisoning from eating toxic seed pods. Maps. 35,000 first printing; author tour.

    The Road by Cormac McCarthy

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    http://www.amazon.com/Road-Oprahs-Book-Club/dp/0307387895/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/103-7196679-7425437?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1190213155&sr=1-1
    Description:
    Cormac McCarthy sets his new novel, The Road, in a post-apocalyptic blight of gray skies that drizzle ash, a world in which all matter of wildlife is extinct, starvation is not only prevalent but nearly all-encompassing, and marauding bands of cannibals roam the environment with pieces of human flesh stuck between their teeth. If this sounds oppressive and dispiriting, it is. McCarthy may have just set to paper the definitive vision of the world after nuclear war, and in this recent age of relentless saber-rattling by the global powers, it's not much of a leap to feel his vision could be not far off the mark nor, sadly, right around the corner. Stealing across this horrific (and that's the only word for it) landscape are an unnamed man and his emaciated son, a boy probably around the age of ten. It is the love the father feels for his son, a love as deep and acute as his grief, that could surprise readers of McCarthy's previous work. McCarthy's Gnostic impressions of mankind have left very little place for love. In fact that greatest love affair in any of his novels, I would argue, occurs between the Billy Parham and the wolf in The Crossing. But here the love of a desperate father for his sickly son transcends all else. McCarthy has always written about the battle between light and darkness; the darkness usually comprises 99.9% of the world, while any illumination is the weak shaft thrown by a penlight running low on batteries. In The Road, those batteries are almost out--the entire world is, quite literally, dying--so the final affirmation of hope in the novel's closing pages is all the more shocking and maybe all the more enduring as the boy takes all of his father's (and McCarthy's) rage at the hopeless folly of man and lays it down, lifting up, in its place, the oddest of all things: faith. --Dennis Lehane

    Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

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    http://www.amazon.com/Water-Elephants-Novel-Sara-Gruen/dp/1565125606/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/103-7196679-7425437?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1190213220&sr=1-1
    Description:
    With its spotlight on elephants, Gruen's romantic page-turner hinges on the human-animal bonds that drove her debut and its sequel (Riding Lessons and Flying Changes)—but without the mass appeal that horses hold. The novel, told in flashback by nonagenarian Jacob Jankowski, recounts the wild and wonderful period he spent with the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth, a traveling circus he joined during the Great Depression. When 23-year-old Jankowski learns that his parents have been killed in a car crash, leaving him penniless, he drops out of Cornell veterinary school and parlays his expertise with animals into a job with the circus, where he cares for a menagerie of exotic creatures[...] He also falls in love with Marlena, one of the show's star performers—a romance complicated by Marlena's husband, the unbalanced, sadistic circus boss who beats both his wife and the animals Jankowski cares for. Despite her often clichéd prose and the predictability of the story's ending, Gruen skillfully humanizes the midgets, drunks, rubes and freaks who populate her book. (May 26)
    Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved

    Babyville by Jane Green

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    http://www.amazon.com/Babyville-Novel-Jane-Green/dp/0767912241/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/103-7196679-7425437?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1190213281&sr=1-1
    Description:
    Meet Julia, a wildly successful television producer who appears to have the picture-perfect life. But beneath the surface, things are not as perfect as they seem. Stuck in a loveless relationship with her boyfriend, Mark, Julia thinks a baby is the answer...but she may want a baby more than she wants her boyfriend. Maeve, on the other hand, is allergic to commitment. A feisty, red-haired, high-power career girl, she breaks out in a rash every time she passes a stroller. But when her no-string-attached nightlife leads to an unexpected pregnancy, her reaction may just be as unexpected...And then there's Samantha - happily married and eager to be the perfect June Cleaver mother. But baby George brings only exhaustion, extra pounds, and marital strife to her once tidy life. Is having an affair with a friend's incredibly sexy husband the answer?

    Bitter is the New Black by Jen Lancaster

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    http://www.amazon.com/Bitter-New-Black-Condescending-Self-Centered/dp/0451217608/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/103-7196679-7425437?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1190213528&sr=1-1
    Description:
    Jen Lancaster was living the sweet life-until real life kicked her to the curb.

    She had the perfect man, the perfect job-hell, she had the perfect life-and there was no reason to think it wouldn't last. Or maybe there was, but Jen Lancaster was too busy being manicured, pedicured, highlighted, and generally adored to notice.

    This is the smart-mouthed, soul-searching story of a woman trying to figure out what happens next when she's gone from six figures to unemployment checks and she stops to reconsider some of the less-than-rosy attitudes and values she thought she'd never have to answer for when times were good.

    Filled with caustic wit and unusual insight, it's a rollicking read as speedy and unpredictable as the trajectory of a burst balloon.
     
  3. The Piano Tuner by Daniel Mason

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    http://www.amazon.com/Piano-Tuner-Novel-Daniel-Mason/dp/1400030382/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/103-7196679-7425437?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1190213597&sr=1-1
    Description:
    Daniel Mason's debut novel, The Piano Tuner, is the mesmerizing story of Edgar Drake, commissioned by the British War Office in 1886 to travel to hostile Burma to repair a rare Erard grand piano vital to the Crown's strategic interests. Eccentric Surgeon-Major Anthony Carroll has brokered peace with local warlords primarily through music, a free medical clinic, and the "powers" of common scientific instruments, much to the dismay of warmongering officers suspect of such unorthodox methods. Drake is an introspective, well-mannered soul who, once there, falls in love with Burma and stays long past the piano-fixing to aid Carroll's political agenda. Drake's arduous journey to reach the outpost, however, takes far too long (nearly half the book) and the plotting is rather heavy-handed at times (one night, Drake learns of a mysterious "Man with One Story" who rarely speaks, and the very next morning the Man tells all to Drake). The story is ambitious, the language florid and sure to please, but the dialogue and melodrama are sometimes tedious. While out on the town with Carroll's love interest, Khin Myo (who enchants Drake), Mason offers the townspersons' view of Drake:
    It is only natural that a guest be treated with hospitality, the quiet man who has come to mend the singing elephant is shy, and walks with the posture of one who is unsure of the world, we too would keep him company to make him feel welcome, but we do not speak English.... They say he is one of the kind of men who has dreams, but tells no one.​
    Drake's complexity is thin; perhaps the beauty of Burma takes over any real need for introspection. Despite these quibbles, The Piano Tuner is a memorable achievement. --Michael Ferch --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

    Slow Man by J.M. Coetzee

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    http://www.amazon.com/Slow-Man-J-M-Coetzee/dp/0099490625/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/103-7196679-7425437?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1190213656&sr=1-1
    Description:
    Nobel-winner Coetzee (Disgrace) ponders life, love and the mind/ body connection in his latest heavy-hitter; he also plays a little trick. When retired photographer Paul Rayment loses his leg in a bicycle accident, his lengthy, lonely recuperation forces him to reflect on a life he deems wasted. The gloom lifts with the arrival of brisk, efficient Marijana Jokic, his Croatian day nurse, with whom Paul becomes infatuated. (He also takes a special interest in Marijana's teenage boy—the son he never had.) It's here, while Paul frets over how to express his feelings, that Coetzee (perhaps unsure if his dithering protagonist can sustain the book) gets weird: the distinguished writer Elizabeth Costello, eponymous heroine of Coetzee's 2003 novel, comes for a visit. To Paul's bewilderment, Costello (Coetzee's alter ego?) exhorts him to become more of a main character in the narrative, even orchestrating events to force his reactions. Some readers will object to this cleverness and the abstract forays into the mysteriousness of the writing process. It is to Coetzee's credit, however, a testament to his flawless prose and appealing voice, that while challenging the reader with postmodern shenanigans, the story of how Paul will take charge of his life and love continues to engage, while Elizabeth Costello the device softens into a real character, one facing frailties of her own. She pushes Paul, or Paul pushes Elizabeth—both push Coetzee—on to the bittersweet conclusion.
     
  4. So, all of the books are up along with their descriptions from the Amazon.com website. I hope that we can vote on a book within a week and possibly start reading by the 1st of October. I'm still looking for any suggestions, tips, etc so if you have any, please visit this thread:

    http://forum.purseblog.com/general-discussion/tpf-book-club-help-us-get-started-giving-182732.html

    and let us know! Also, if you have any questions, feel free to ask or send me a pm :smile:
     
  5. Bump for those who only read the first page
     
  6. YAY, a book club at last! I have read a lot of those books on your list but I voted for Coetzee because I loved Disgrace.
     
  7. Bitter is the New Black
     
  8. So guys, when should we close the voting on this? In a week?

    I think that'll give us enough time to get some votes in, get the books from the lib. or amazon (or whatever book store you use) and then maybe to start by the 1st???
     
  9. I voted for Au Paris b/c it was the one you first suggested, but I would be happy to read any and all of the others ones too.

    Thank you for organizing this Book Club! We are all going to enjoy discussing what we read. I am most appreciative of your efforts, as I know this takes a lot of time.:flowers:
     
  10. I haven't read any of those books but they all seem really interesting.

    I'm going to vote for the pact because ive seen the movie based on it and it was really good and with most movies based on books the book is always better than the movie version.

    I wouldn't mind reading Bitter is the new black, Babyville or Au Paris either though they all look really good too.
     
  11. I agree! This is very nice of you im sure it has taken time to put this together :smile:
     
  12. The description for All But My Life is a little off. Looking at the link maybe they're referring to the book on tape? The actual book is written in first person from Gerda's perspective, in case anyone is wondering. And it's really good.

    I found this description through Amazon as well:

    Book Description
    All But My Life is the unforgettable story of Gerda Weissmann Klein's six-year ordeal as a victim of Nazi cruelty. From her comfortable home in Bielitz (present-day Bielsko) in Poland to her miraculous survival and her liberation by American troops--including the man who was to become her husband--in Volary, Czechoslovakia, in 1945, Gerda takes the reader on a terrifying journey.

    Gerda's serene and idyllic childhood is shattered when Nazis march into Poland on September 3, 1939. Although the Weissmanns were permitted to live for a while in the basement of their home, they were eventually separated and sent to German labor camps. Over the next few years Gerda experienced the slow, inexorable stripping away of "all but her life." By the end of the war she had lost her parents, brother, home, possessions, and community; even the dear friends she made in the labor camps, with whom she had shared so many hardships, were dead.

    Despite her horrifying experiences, Klein conveys great strength of spirit and faith in humanity. In the darkness of the camps, Gerda and her young friends manage to create a community of friendship and love. Although stripped of the essence of life, they were able to survive the barbarity of their captors. Gerda's beautifully written story gives an invaluable message to everyone. It introduces them to last century's terrible history of devastation and prejudice, yet offers them hope that the effects of hatred can be overcome.
     
  13. That sounds good. The first would be a good starting goal, I think.

    And yes, thank you for organizing this! I'm really looking forward to it.

    I'm having a really hard time deciding which one to vote for, haha.

    edit: I also noticed that I Know This Much is True (Wally Lamb) is listed in the descriptions but not in the poll.
     
  14. Woohoo. Can't wait to get started.
     
  15. Dang it! Must have not seen that one :sad:

    Hopefully those who are interested in reading it will leave a comment saying that they vote for it and we'll use the comments as votes :s