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New Leaf Vote for October 2019 • Ya Gotta Believe: Life of the Spirit
#1  issybird 09-07-2019, 08:04 AM
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Let's select the book we'll read and discuss in October 2019.

We love new participants. We're happy for you to vote, but we'd like to request that you not vote unless you plan to join the discussion whatever the selection, in the interest of a vibrant conversation. So if you haven't posted in a book club thread yet, do please say a quick hello here or in the Welcome thread.

This is a image » poll. Vote for as many books as you'd like. Questions? FAQs | Guidelines Or just ask!

Choices:

Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams
$US7.99, $C10.69, $A9.99, £4.99
Spoiler Warning below






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What do a dead cat, a computer whiz-kid, an Electric Monk who believes the world is pink, quantum mechanics, a Chronologist over 200 years old, Samuel Taylor Coleridge (poet), and pizza have in common? Apparently not much; until Dirk Gently, self-styled private investigator, sets out to prove the fundamental interconnectedness of all things by solving a mysterious murder, assisting a mysterious professor, unravelling a mysterious mystery, and eating a lot of pizza – not to mention saving the entire human race from extinction along the way (at no extra charge). To find out more, read this book (better still, buy it, then read it) – or contact Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency. ‘A thumping good detective-ghost-horror-whodunnit-time travel-romantic-musical-comedy epic.’ The author
287 pp.

Plato and a Platypus Walk Into a Bar by Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein
US $4.99, CA $13.99, GB £5.75, AU $10.22
Spoiler Warning below






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Here's a lively, hilarious, not-so-reverent crash course through the great philosophical traditions, schools, concepts, and thinkers. Its Philosophy 101 for everyone who knows not to take all this heavy stuff too seriously. Some of the Big Ideas are Existentialism (what do Hegel and Bette Midler have in common?), Philosophy of Language (how to express what its like being stranded on a desert island with Halle Berry), Feminist Philosophy (why, in the end, a man is always a man), and much more. Finally it all makes sense!
200 pp.

A Morbid Taste for Bones by Ellis Peters (The Chronicles of Brother Cadfael Book 1)
kobo: $9.56 AU; $12 US; $14.39 CA | kindle: $9 US; $12 CA; $8.79 AU
Spoiler Warning below






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A Welsh Benedictine monk living at Shrewsbury Abbey in western England, Brother Cadfael spends much of his time tending the herbs and vegetables in the garden—but now there’s a more pressing matter. Cadfael is to serve as translator for a group of monks heading to the town of Gwytherin in Wales. The team’s goal is to collect the holy remains of Saint Winifred, which Prior Robert hopes will boost the abbey’s reputation, as well as his own. But when the monks arrive in Gwytherin, the town is divided over the request.

When the leading opponent to disturbing the grave is found shot dead with a mysterious arrow, some believe Saint Winifred herself delivered the deadly blow. Brother Cadfael knows an earthly hand did the deed, but his plan to root out a murderer may dig up more than he can handle.

Before CSI and Law & Order, there was Brother Cadfael, “wily veteran of the Crusades” (Los Angeles Times). His knowledge of herbalism, picked up in the Holy Land, and his skillful observance of human nature are blessings in dire situations, and earned Ellis Peters a Crime Writers’ Association Silver Dagger Award. A Morbid Taste for Bones kicks off a long-running and much-loved series that went on to be adapted for stage, radio, and television.
213 pp.

Magic and Mystery in Tibet by Alexandra David-Neel
US $2.99, CA $3.99, AU $4.63, UK £2.39
Spoiler Warning below






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For centuries Tibet has been known as the last home of mystery, the hidden, sealed land, where ancient mysteries still survive that have perished in the rest of the Orient. Many men have written about Tibet and its secret lore, but few have actually penetrated it to learn its ancient wisdom. Among those few was Madame Alexandra David-Neel, a French orientalist. A practicing Buddhist, a profound historian of religion, and linguist, she actually lived in Tibet for more than 14 years. She had the great honor of being received by the Dalai Lama; she studied philosophical Buddhism and Tibetan Tantra at the great centers; she meditated in lonely caves and on wind-swept winter mountains with yogi hermits; and she even witnessed forbidden corpse-magic in the forests. Her experiences have been unique.
313 pp.

The Sleeper in the Sands by Tom Holland
UK £3.65, EU €3.99, US $2.99, CA $4.99, AU $12.99
Spoiler Warning below






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As Howard Carter prepares to open the tomb of Tutankhamen, he broods on a variety of mysterious warnings. The most specific of these warnings takes the form of tales within tales within tales--tales of the mediaeval caliph Omar and his private physician, and tales of the Times of Ignorance, of the heretic pharaoh and the reasons why he rejected the gods of his fathers. . . the particular spins [Holland] puts on his own standard mythologies are ingenious, as is the way that he juggles known facts and standard theories to fit those spins. He creates a telling atmosphere of suspense in which we find ourselves caring in different ways about a social- climbing scholar, a warrior sick of killing and a princess desperate to survive on her own terms in a hostile court. Above all, this is ingenious in its use of the story-telling formulae of the Thousand Nights and One Night to tell a story that unfolds like a poisonous flower and sweeps us backwards and forwards through abysses of time and human anguish.--Roz Kaveney
473 pp.

Black Narcissus by Rumer Godden
Amazon U.S. $9.99
Spoiler Warning below






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Five nuns confront nature—physical and human—in a remote Himalayan convent in this bestselling novel that “bears comparison with A Passage to India” (Arthur Koestler).

Under the guidance of Sister Clodagh, the youngest Mother Superior in the history of their order, five European Sisters of the Servants of Mary leave their monastery in Darjeeling, India, and make their way to remote Mopu in the foothills of the Himalayan Mountains. There, in the opulent, abandoned palace where an Indian general housed his harem, the holy sisters hope to establish a school and a health clinic. Their aim is to help combat superstition, ignorance, and disease among the mistrusting natives in the village below, and to silence the doubts of their royal benefactor’s agent, the hard-drinking and somewhat disreputable Mr. Dean.

But all too soon, the isolation, the ghosts and lurid history, and the literally breathtaking beauty of this high, lonely place in the Asian mountains begin to take a serious toll on Sister Clodagh and her fellow nuns. And their burdens may prove too heavy to bear, exposing a vulnerable humanity that threatens to undermine the best intentions of the purest hearts.

The basis for the Golden Globe and Academy Award–winning motion picture starring Deborah Kerr, Black Narcissus has been universally praised for its poignancy, passion, and rich evocation of a time and place. An intensely human story of devotion, faith, and madness, this beloved novel by the New York Times–bestselling author of In This House of Brede stands among the finest fiction written in the twentieth century.
193 pp.

The Wonder by Emma Donoghue
Amazon U.S. $9.99
Spoiler Warning below






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By the New York Times bestselling author of Room: A small Irish village is mystified by what appears to be a miracle but may actually be murder in this "fine, fact-based, old-school page-turner" (Stephen King).

In this masterpiece by Emma Donoghue, an English nurse brought to a small Irish village to observe what appears to be a miracle -- a girl said to have survived without food for months -- soon finds herself fighting to save the child's life.

Tourists flock to the cabin of eleven-year-old Anna O'Donnell, who believes herself to be living off manna from heaven, and a journalist is sent to cover the sensation. Lib Wright, a veteran of Florence Nightingale's Crimean campaign, is hired to keep watch over the girl.

Written with all the propulsive tension that made Room a huge bestseller, THE WONDER works beautifully on many levels--a tale of two strangers who transform each other's lives, a powerful psychological thriller, and a story of love pitted against evil.
303 pp.

Why Homer Matters, aka The Mighty Dead, by Adam Nicolson
US $9.99, CA $11.99, AU $11.99, UK £4.99
Spoiler Warning below






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"Adam Nicolson writes popular books as popular books used to be, a breeze rather than a scholarly sweat, but humanely erudite, elegantly written, passionately felt…and his excitement is contagious."—James Wood, The New Yorker

Adam Nicolson sees the Iliad and the Odyssey as the foundation myths of Greek—and our—consciousness, collapsing the passage of 4,000 years and making the distant past of the Mediterranean world as immediate to us as the events of our own time.

Why Homer Matters is a magical journey of discovery across wide stretches of the past, sewn together by the poems themselves and their metaphors of life and trouble. Homer's poems occupy, as Adam Nicolson writes "a third space" in the way we relate to the past: not as memory, which lasts no more than three generations, nor as the objective accounts of history, but as epic, invented after memory but before history, poetry which aims "to bind the wounds that time inflicts."
320 ppi.

This House is Haunted by John Boyne
US $9.99.
Spoiler Warning below






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Written in Dickensian prose, This House Is Haunted is a striking homage to the classic nineteenth-century ghost story. Set in Norfolk in 1867, Eliza Caine responds to an ad for a governess position at Gaudlin Hall. When she arrives at the hall, shaken by an unsettling disturbance that occurred during her travels, she is greeted by the two children now in her care, Isabella and Eustace. There is no adult present to represent her mysterious employer, and the children offer no explanation. Later that night in her room, another terrifying experience further reinforces the sense that something is very wrong.

From the moment Eliza rises the following morning, her every step seems dogged by a malign presence that lives within Gaudlin’s walls. Eliza realizes that if she and the children are to survive its violent attentions, she must first uncover the hall’s long-buried secrets and confront the demons of its past. Clever, captivating, and witty, This House Is Haunted is pure entertainment with a catch.
304 pp.
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#2  Bookpossum 09-07-2019, 06:59 PM
I have taken the plunge! There are a couple of other books on the list I have read and enjoyed in the past, but I decided to keep it down to four of the nine.
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#3  gmw 09-07-2019, 10:26 PM
Ditto. Too many interesting books - my list overfloweth.
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#4  CRussel 09-08-2019, 01:23 AM
Now I'm just the opposite -- I'm stretching this month. Part of that is health and family matters -- frankly, nothing much is interesting reading right now, and likely won't be for a bit. But I've voted for three, at widely different ends of the spectrum, I think. We'll see.
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#5  issybird 09-08-2019, 08:31 AM
I had a hard time whittling it down to four, as I kept changing my mind about my also-ran of five. Done now.
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#6  Victoria 09-09-2019, 02:27 PM
I usually vote for at least half, so I’ve decided to just vote for my two top runners this time around.
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#7  issybird 09-10-2019, 08:46 AM
Dirk Gently it is. Not my usual thing, but I'm looking forward to it (humor is good).

Query: I can get the audiobook at OverDrive, but it's read by the author which is usually a hard limit for me; author narrations tend to be dreadful. However, I think I've seen comments that Adams is an exception. Has anyone listened to him?
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#8  Bookpossum 09-10-2019, 09:06 AM
I don't know on that one. I did find a short clip of him reading a short extract from one of the Hitchhiker books on You Tube and he did it well. Doing a whole book would be a much tougher assignment.
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#9  Catlady 09-10-2019, 09:44 AM
Quote issybird
Dirk Gently it is. Not my usual thing, but I'm looking forward to it (humor is good).

Query: I can get the audiobook at OverDrive, but it's read by the author which is usually a hard limit for me; author narrations tend to be dreadful. However, I think I've seen comments that Adams is an exception. Has anyone listened to him?
The only audiobook versions (in the U.S., at least) are a dramatization and an abridgment.
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#10  issybird 09-10-2019, 09:55 AM
Quote Catlady
The only audiobook versions (in the U.S., at least) are a dramatization and an abridgment.
Whoops! Thanks for that. I didn't notice. I wish OD would tag abridged versions prominently as that makes it a total non-starter.
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