3rd Wednesday Book Club March 2013 – Ecoreads/Dystopian Fiction (and zombies!)

We had loads of fun at our March Book Club meeting (well, I did, anyway!) Lots of great book discussion and plenty of enthusiasm and new reading discoveries made for a great meeting. The group’s love affair with American author Paul Auster continues, with more of our members joining this author love-in every month. Check out the list of March reads and you’ll see what I mean…..

March Reads @ 3rd Wednesday Book Club

Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel
Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
Solar by Ian McEwan
The People Smuggler by Robin de Crespigny
The Book of Illusions by Paul Auster
Tiger’s Eye by Ingo Clendinnen
The Garden of Evening Mists by Tan Twan Eng
55 Scotland Street Series by Alexander McCall Smith
Storm Warning by Billy Graham
The Circle Trilogy (Morrigan’s Cross, Dance of the Gods & Valley of Silence) by Nora Roberts
Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker
Invisible by Paul Auster
Shoes of the Fishermen by Morris West
The Stepford Wives by Ira Levin
Timbuktoo by Paul Auster
The Red Notebook by Paul Auster
Leviathan by Paul Auster
Moon Palace by Paul Auster
Music of Chance by Paul Auster
The Hunger Games Trilogy (The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, Mockingjay) by Suzanne Collins
The Tom Hanks Enigma (bio) by David Gardner
Moon Palace by Paul Auster
The Dark Side of Genius: the Life of Alfred Hitchcock by Donald Spoto
Travels in the Scriptorium by Paul Auster
Listening to Country by Ross Moriarty
A Storm of Swords (A Song of Ice and Fire Part 3) by George R.R Martin
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
In the Country of Last Things by Paul Auster

See? : )

Most Talked About Reads

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The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker

“It still amazes me how little we really knew. . . . Maybe everything that happened to me and my family had nothing at all to do with the slowing. It’s possible, I guess. But I doubt it. I doubt it very much.”

Luminous, haunting, unforgettable, The Age of Miracles is a stunning fiction debut by a superb new writer, a story about coming of age during extraordinary times, about people going on with their lives in an era of profound uncertainty.

On a seemingly ordinary Saturday in a California suburb, 11-year-old Julia and her family awake to discover, along with the rest of the world, that the rotation of the earth has suddenly begun to slow. The days and nights grow longer and longer, gravity is affected, the environment is thrown into disarray. Yet as she struggles to navigate an ever-shifting landscape, Julia is also coping with the normal disasters of everyday life–the fissures in her parents’ marriage, the loss of old friends, the hopeful anguish of first love, the bizarre behavior of her grandfather who, convinced of a government conspiracy, spends his days obsessively cataloging his possessions. As Julia adjusts to the new normal, the slowing inexorably continues.

With spare, graceful prose and the emotional wisdom of a born storyteller, Karen Thompson Walker has created a singular narrator in Julia, a resilient and insightful young girl, and a moving portrait of family life set against the backdrop of an utterly altered world.’ (from Goodreads.com)

Invisible by Paul Auster

‘“One of America’s greatest novelists” dazzlingly reinvents the coming-of-age story in his most passionate and surprising book to date.

Sinuously constructed in four interlocking parts, Paul Auster’s fifteenth novel opens in New York City in the spring of 1967, when twenty-year-old Adam Walker, an aspiring poet and student at Columbia University, meets the enigmatic Frenchman Rudolf Born and his silent and seductive girfriend, Margot. Before long, Walker finds himself caught in a perverse triangle that leads to a sudden, shocking act of violence that will alter the course of his life.

Three different narrators tell the story of Invisible, a novel that travels in time from 1967 to 2007 and moves from Morningside Heights, to the Left Bank of Paris, to a remote island in the Caribbean. It is a book of youthful rage, unbridled sexual hunger, and a relentless quest for justice. With uncompromising insight, Auster takes us into the shadowy borderland between truth and memory, between authorship and identity, to produce a work of unforgettable power that confirms his reputation as “one of America’s most spectacularly inventive writers.”’ (from Goodreads.com)

Listening to Country by Ros Moriarty

“From a trip made by the author to the Australian desert to spend time learning the secrets and hearing the stories of her husband’s family’s matriarchs, comes a warm, intimate account providing rare insight into the spiritual and emotional world of Aboriginal women.

Ros Moriarty is a white woman married to an Aboriginal man. Over the course of many visits to her husband’s family, she was fascinated to discover that the older tribal women of his family had a deep sense of happiness and purpose that transcended the abject material poverty, illness, and increasing violence of their community—a happiness that she feels is related to an essential “warmth of heart” that these women say has gone missing in today’s world. In May 2006, she had the chance to spend time in the Tanami Desert in north central Australia with 200 Aboriginal women, performing women’s Law ceremonies. Here is the story of that trip and her friendship with these women, as she tells their stories and passes on their wisdom and understanding. Offering a privileged window into the spiritual and emotional world of Aboriginal women, this book is a moving story of common human experience, the getting and passing on of wisdom, and the deep friendship and bonds between women. It carries a moving and profound sense of optimism in the fundamental humanity we all share.” (from Goodreads.com)

Oryx & Crake by Margaret Atwood

“I tried to read this for our March Dystopian read i.e. “The end of our world as we know it.” At first I quite enjoyed the story, but gradually the horror of what I was reading began to get to me.  I realized it was because the hideous things happening in the novel, even though exaggerated, could very well happen, actually aspects of it were happening now – uncontrolled environmental damage; further class division based solely on income;  science gone mad (that is, experimental science, for example, Pigoons now roamed the landscape freely and were huge and dangerous.  And where did they come from?  Originally pigs were used to grow parts for humans!)  The total insensitivity of people to other people and animals’ suffering; the growth of any type of pornography and “snuff” on the web; the development of a race of people of all colours who had no education, hope etc., all this as a result of a mischievous experiment by a young student.  I just couldn’t finish it and had a few nightmares too!!” – Lyn

Shoes of the Fishermen (The Vatican Trilogy #1) by Morris West

“The pope has died, and the corridors of the Vatican hum with intrigue as cardinals from all over the world gather to choose his successor. Suddenly, the election is concluded – with a surprise result. The new pope is the youngest cardinal of all – and a Russian. Shoes of the Fisherman slowly unravels the heartwarming and profound story of Kiril Lakota, a cardinal who reluctantly steps out from behind the Iron Curtain to lead the Catholic Church and to grapple with the many issues facing the contemporary world.(from Goodreads.com)

The Dark Side of Genius – The Life of Alfred Hitchcock by Donald Spoto

As the title suggests this is an in-depth bio of Hitchcock.  Nothing is left untold.  Within the 555 pages are also comments, reviews and a history of the film industry.

Hitchcock may have been a genius of film, but beneath that he was a sadistic, self-centred, emotionally crippled man.  This begs the question:  “are geniuses deranged and flawed people?”  This is a tough and long-winded read, but it was most enjoyable from the history of film perspective.  FYI the most engrossing and MUST READ part of the book is Chapter 13.  To give you an idea of Hitch’s mindset, 2 of his favourite things were Edvard Munch’s painting “The Scream” and Hieronymous Bosch’s painting “The Garden of Earthly Delights”.  Another bit of interesting trivia is the fact that Hitch also had one of Walter Sickert’s artworks in his collection.” – Elaine

And lastly…

I think some of our book club members thought I was joking when I talked about the newest hype in the speculative fiction world, Post Apocalyptic Zombie Romance (or, zom rom com). Well, I wasn’t. Click here to read a Goodreads.com list of books called ‘Zombie Romance’  (including such titles as ‘Hungry For You,’ ‘Alice in Zombieland’ and ‘Confessions of a Zombie Lover.’) Also keep an eye out for Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion (you can reserve your copy here), which, as well as being number one on the list, has been made into a film due for release here in Australia this week. Looks like fun! – Kelly

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Read, Watch, Play 2013 – March is Ecoreads & Dystopian Fiction

6116062998_2d4e533d1bThe Read Watch Play theme for this month is Ecoreads. This is the time to read and discuss books and ideas about ecology, environment, water use and conservation.  2013 is the International Year of Water Cooperation, and it’s a great time to read up on the environmental and sustainability issues we face, and the ways we might improve them.

We’ve embraced Ecoreads this month at Nowra Library, but we’ve also found another way of exploring it- the dark side of conservation and sustainability, if you will. What would happen if none of our plans, ideas, environmental awareness and hard work paid off? What if the world we know …. ended?

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What if we found ourselves in….dystopia?

The Road, based on Cormac McCarthy's novel.

The Road, based on Cormac McCarthy’s novel.

Dystopian fiction is is a branch of Speculative Fiction, and is often closely related to Science Fiction. It is often set in a futuristic,post-apocalyptic or post-cataclysmic society characterised by environmental disaster, totalitarian governments and dehumanisation.  Social issues, as well as those of environment, technology, politics, are often explored. As the name suggests, ‘Dystopia’ is the opposite of ‘Utopia’,  the term first coined by Sir Thomas More in his 1516 work Utopia, which describes an ideal society, perfect and just. The word is similar to the Greek word “outopos ” – “no place”- and “eutopos” – “good place.”  No wonder then that Dystopian fiction is often fraught with sadness, desperation, desolation and struggle.

Katniss in The Hunger Games film.

Katniss in The Hunger Games film.

Famous works of dystopian fiction include Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 and George Orwell’s Ninteen Eighty- Four. Recent popular additions to the genre include The Hunger Games  series by Suzanne Collins, Divergent by Veronica Roth, The Road by Cormac McCarthy, Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro and Lois Lowry’s The Giver.  (You can also view or reserve these items on the Shoalhaven Libraries Catalogue).

This month at Nowra Library our 3rd Wednesday Book Club members will be reading and discussing Ecoreads, but the discussion doesn’t end there. You can join the live Twitter discussion on 26 March starting at 8.00pm EDT, and join readers from Australia, New Zealand, Singapore (and who knows where else!) as they discuss their favourite Ecoreads.

Use the tags #ecoread and #rwpchat as you discuss, so others can join in the conversation too. For more information on how to take part in Twitter book discussions, check out the Read Watch Play blog.  

Happy reading (and tweeting!)