Literary Non-Fiction Nominations & Vote • March 2017
#1  sun surfer 03-01-2017, 03:12 AM
Help us select what the MR Literary Club will read in March 2017!

The category for this month is:


-Nominations will run for three days.-

You may offer up to two nominations. All nominees (so long as they are within the category) will move forward to the vote with no need for support from others.

Once nominations are complete, voting will begin and also occur in this thread.

-Voting will then run for four days.-

I will make a post in this thread to open voting. The vote will close exactly four days from that post; even if the final tally doesn't occur immediately after voting closes, no votes made after that time will count.

Votes will be made by post. You will have a number of votes to cast equal to the number of nominees minus one, which will be specified when the vote begins. You may give each nominee one or two (or no) votes. You may vote all at once in one post or vote in separate posts at different times, so long as you have more votes remaining to cast. You may use any number of your possible votes up to the maximum. Any extraneous votes per person (past their maximum or more than two for one nominee) won't count. Votes cannot be changed once they are cast.

Once voting is complete, the count will be tallied and a winner declared. In the event of a tie, there will be a one-day run-off vote, also in this thread. If the run-off also ends in a tie, then the tie will be resolved in favour of the selection that was nominated first.

We hope that you will read the selection with the club and join in the discussion.

What is literature for the purposes of this club? A superior work of lasting merit that enriches the mind. Often it is important, challenging, critically acclaimed. It may be from ancient times to today; it may be from anywhere in the world; it may be obscure or famous, short or long; it may be a story, a novel, a play, a poem, an essay or another written form. If you are unsure if a work would be considered literature, just ask!

The floor is now open!


Nominations are closed. Voting is closed. Final results:

#2  Spinnenmonat 03-01-2017, 12:08 PM
I nominate The Renaissance: Studies in Art and Poetry by Walter Pater

The Renaissance (1873) at once became the touchstone for the decadent imagination for a generation of Oxford undergraduates. Pater was shocked at the reaction his book inspired: 'I wish they would not call me a hedonist, it gives such a wrong impression to those who do not know Greek.'.
The book had begun as a series of idiosyncratic, impressionistic critical essays on those artists that embodied for him the spirit of the Renaissance; by collecting them and adding his infamous Conclusion, Pater gained a reputation as a daring modern philosopher. But The Renaissance survives as one of the most innovative pieces of cultural criticism to emerge from the nineteenth century.

Totem and Taboo by Siegmund Freud

Widely acknowledged to be one of Freud's greatest cultural works, when Totem and Taboo was first published in 1913, it caused outrage. Thorough and thought-provoking, Totem and Taboo remains the fullest exploration of Freud's most famous themes. Family, society, religion - they're all put on the couch here. Whatever your feelings about psychoanalysis, Freud's theories have influenced every facet of modern life, from film and literature to medicine and art. If you don't know your incest taboo from your Oedipal complex, and you want to understand more about the culture we're living in, then Totem and Taboo is the book to read.

#3  Bookpossum 03-01-2017, 09:10 PM
I would like to nominate two books also:

Craft for a Dry Lake - a Memoir by Kim Mahood. From Kobo:

Winner of the NSW Premier's Literary Awards Douglas Stewart Prize for Non-fiction,The Age Book of the Year Award for Non-fiction, The Dobbie Prize for Best First Book.

A lyrical memoir from a first-time author that has won critical acclaim Australia-wide. In the tradition of Drusilla Modjeska's Poppy, Mahood offers an intense and sensitive exploration of identity, familial ties and black/white relations in Australia.

Craft For A Dry Lake is a memoir that will touch the hearts and souls of every Australian. In Craft For A Dry Lake Kim Mahood takes us on a lyrical journey to her heartland - travelling with her beloved cattle dog back into the Outback of her youth, seeking to lay to rest her father's ghost but finding herself faced with many of her own.
The Bookseller of Kabul by Åsne Seierstad. From Kobo:

Two weeks after September 11th, award-winning journalist Åsne Seierstad went to Afghanistan to report on the conflict there. In the following spring she returned to live with an Afghan family for several months. For more than twenty years Sultan Khan defied the authorities - be they communist or Taliban - to supply books to the people of Kabul. He was arrested, interrogated and imprisoned by the communists and watched illiterate Taliban soldiers burn piles of his books in the street. He even resorted to hiding most of his stock in attics all over Kabul. But while Khan is passionate in his love of books and hatred of censorship, he is also a committed Muslim with strict views on family life. As an outsider, Seierstad is able to move between the private world of the women - including Khan's two wives - and the more public lives of the men. And so we learn of proposals and marriages, suppression and abuse of power, crime and punishment. The result is a gripping and moving portrait of a family, and a clear-eyed assessment of a country struggling to free itself from history.

#4  bfisher 03-02-2017, 11:43 AM

#5  bfisher 03-02-2017, 08:53 PM
I would like to nominate A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf.

The Goodreads description:
A Room of One's Own is an extended essay by Virginia Woolf. First published on 24 October 1929, the essay was based on a series of lectures she delivered at Newnham College and Girton College, two women's colleges at Cambridge University in October 1928. While this extended essay in fact employs a fictional narrator and narrative to explore women both as writers of and characters in fiction, the manuscript for the delivery of the series of lectures, titled "Women and Fiction", and hence the essay, are considered non-fiction. The essay is generally seen as a feminist text, and is noted in its argument for both a literal and figural space for women writers within a literary tradition dominated by patriarchy.

#6  Bookworm_Girl 03-04-2017, 12:41 AM
I nominate Cider with Rosie: A Memoir by Laurie Lee.

The Amazon description:
This international-bestselling memoir of childhood in post–World War I rural England is one of the most endearing portraits of youth in all literature.

Three years old and wrapped in a Union Jack to protect him from the sun, Laurie Lee arrived in the village of Slad in the final summer of the First World War. The cottage his mother had rented for three and sixpence a week had neither running water nor electricity, but it was surrounded by a lovely half-acre garden and, most importantly, it was big enough for the seven children in her care. It was here, in a verdant valley tucked into the rolling hills of the Cotswolds, that Laurie Lee learned to look at life with a painter’s eye and a poet’s heart—qualities of vision that, decades later, would make him one of England’s most cherished authors.

In this vivid recollection of a magical time and place, water falls from the scullery pump “sparkling like liquid sky.” Autumn is more than a season—it is a land eternally aflame, like Moses’s burning bush. Every midnight, on a forlorn stretch of heath, a phantom carriage reenacts its final, wild ride. And, best of all, the first secret sip of cider, “juice of those valleys and of that time,” leads to a boy’s first kiss, “so dry and shy, it was like two leaves colliding in air.”

An instant classic when it was first published in 1959, Cider with Rosie is one of the most endearing and evocative portraits of youth in all of literature. The first installment in an autobiographical trilogy that includes As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning and A Moment of War, it is also a heartfelt and lyrical ode to England, and to a way of life that may belong to the past, but will never be forgotten.

#7  Bookworm_Girl 03-04-2017, 12:46 AM
I also nominate The House of Medici: Its Rise and Fall by Christopher Hibbert.

From Goodreads:
At its height, Renaissance Florence was a center of enormous wealth, power, and influence. A republican city-state funded by trade and banking, its often bloody political scene was dominated by rich mercantile families, the most famous of which were the Medici. This enthralling book charts the family's huge influence on the political, economic and cultural history of Florence. Beginning in the early 1430s with the rise of the dynasty under the near-legendary Cosimo de Medici, it moves through their golden era as patrons of some of the most remarkable artists and architects of the Renaissance, to the era of the Medici Popes and Grand Dukes, Florence's slide into decay and bankruptcy, and the end, in 1737, of the Medici line.

#8  sun surfer 03-04-2017, 01:19 AM
I nominate:

Diaries, 1942-1954 by James Lees-Milne. I originally wanted to nominate Ancestral Voices: Diaries, 1942-1943 but alas it is not available electronically. I was also tempted by his Some Country Houses and Their Owners but it also isn't available as ebook. I might've nominated one of those anyway, but I found Diaries, 1942-1954 is available as an ebook so thought it the more copastetic.

This is actually his first five books of diaries (including Ancestral Voices which is the first) all together along with some passages not originally published. However this is an abridged version of those first five books. I suppose that means some of the less enticing bits removed. This book is about 500 pages while his original first five books of diaries were about 250 each, so it would seem more than half the material has been removed to make this book. I would've liked the shorter and more complete Ancestral Voices but as Lees-Milne abridged his own diaries as well neither version would really be 'complete' and besides this one covers much more ground in a brisker fashion.

From Goodreads:

James Lees-Milne (1908-97) made his name as the country house expert of the National Trust and for being a versatile author. But he is now best known for the remarkable diary he kept for most of his adult life, which has been compared with that of Samuel Pepys and hailed as 'a treasure of contemporary English literature'. The first of three, this volume covers its first dozen years, beginning with his return to work for the National Trust during the Second World War, and ending with his tempestuous marriage to the exotic Alvilde Chaplin. The diary vividly portrays the hectic social life of London during the Blitz, when in the intervals between struggling to save a disintegrating architectural heritage he enjoys a dizzying variety of romantic experiences with both sexes. His descriptions of visits to harassed country-house owners are as perceptive as they are hilarious. With the war's end, the mood changes as he portrays a world of gloom and austerity. He shares the prevailing pessimism, yet during these years arranges the transfer of some of England's loveliest houses to the safe keeping of the National Trust.Finally he escapes from England to live on the Continent with his beautiful paramour, yet remains restless and dissatisfied. The diaries of James Lees-Milne were originally published in twelve volumes between 1975 and 2005. Michael Bloch, James Lees-Milne's literary executor and editor of the last five volumes of the complete work, has produced this skilful compilation from the first five volumes -- including interesting new material omitted from the original publications.

Edited: I'm removing another nomination of mine as after looking closer I think it's more a novel though heavily based on real experiences. To make up for that not-quite-nonfiction book that not-quite-fits this category, I'll instead put in this last-minute addition that I think could lead to an interesting discussion on the book with diverse views-

The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

From Goodreads:

From one of America's iconic writers, this is a portrait of a marriage and a life - in good times and bad - that will speak to anyone who has ever loved a husband or wife or child. This is a stunning book of electric honesty and passion. Several days before Christmas 2003, John Gregory Dunne and Joan Didion saw their only daughter, Quintana, fall ill.

At first they thought it was flu, then pneumonia, then complete septic shock. She was put into an induced coma and placed on life support. Days later - the night before New Year's Eve - the Dunnes were just sitting down to dinner after visiting the hospital when John suffered a massive and fatal coronary.

In a second, this close, symbiotic partnership of 40 years was over. Four weeks later, their daughter pulled through. Two months after that, arriving at LA airport, she collapsed and underwent six hours of brain surgery at UCLA Medical Centre to relieve a massive hematoma.

This powerful book is Didion's 'attempt to make sense of the weeks and then months that cut loose any fixed idea I ever had about death, about illness, about marriage and children and memory, about the shallowness of sanity, about life itself'. The result is an exploration of an intensely personal yet universal experience: a portrait of a marriage, and a life, in good times and bad.

#9  sun surfer 03-04-2017, 03:28 AM
Nominations are closed and voting is now open!

Voting will close exactly four days from this post.

Each person has EIGHT votes to use.

Please refer to the first post for all other information.

#10  sun surfer 03-04-2017, 03:44 AM
A very interesting and diverse group. Tough decisions but I'll begin by giving one vote to each of-

The Renaissance
Totem and Taboo
A Room of One's Own
Cider with Rosie
Diaries, 1942-1954
The Year of Magical Thinking

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