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New Leaf Nominations for July 2019 • Naturally Gifted: Prodigies
#1  issybird 06-01-2019, 07:42 AM
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It's time for us select the book that the New Leaf Book Club will read in July 2019. The theme is Naturally Gifted: Prodigies.

Everyone is welcome to join the nomination process even if they'd rather lurk during the voting and discussion; if that is still a little too much commitment, please feel free to suggest titles without making a formal nomination. Also, don't sweat the links. It's helpful to check availability and prices before nominating in order to eliminate anything that's out of the question, but ultimately our global members with different gadgets and preferences will have to check for themselves.

The nominations will run through 7 AM EDT, June 7, 2019. Each nomination requires a second and a third to make it to the poll, which will remain open for three days. The discussion of the selection will start on July 15, 2019. Don't forget to show up for the discussion of the June selection, The Riddle of the Labyrinth: The Quest to Crack an Ancient Code, on June 15.

Any questions? See below, or just ask!

FAQs for the Nomination, Selection and Discussion process

General Guidelines for the New Leaf Book Club

Official choices with three nominations:

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon [Bookpossum, issybird, Victoria]
Kobo: $US12.99, $C13.99, $A12.99, £3.99
Spoiler Warning below






Quote
Christopher John Francis Boone knows all the countries of the world and their capitals and every prime number up to 7,057. He relates well to animals but has no understanding of human emotions. He cannot stand to be touched. And he detests the color yellow.

Although gifted with a superbly logical brain, for fifteen-year-old Christopher everyday interactions and admonishments have little meaning. He lives on patterns, rules, and a diagram kept in his pocket. Then one day, a neighbor's dog, Wellington, is killed and his carefully constructed universe is threatened. Christopher sets out to solve the murder in the style of his favourite (logical) detective, Sherlock Holmes. What follows makes for a novel that is funny, poignant and fascinating in its portrayal of a person whose curse and blessing are a mind that perceives the world entirely literally.
226 pp.

The Man Who Knew Infinity by Robert Kanigel [Victoria, issybird, Bookworm_Girl]
Kobo: Au$13; UK£4; US$13; CA$10 | Kindle: US$13; CA$10; AU$13; UK£8 | Audible
Spoiler Warning below






Quote
A moving and enlightening look at the unbelievable true story of how gifted prodigy Ramanujan stunned the scholars of Cambridge University and revolutionized mathematics.

In 1913, a young unschooled Indian clerk wrote a letter to G H Hardy, begging the preeminent English mathematician's opinion on several ideas he had about numbers. Realizing the letter was the work of a genius, Hardy arranged for Srinivasa Ramanujan to come to England.

Thus began one of the most improbable and productive collaborations ever chronicled. With a passion for rich and evocative detail, Robert Kanigel takes us from the temples and slums of Madras to the courts and chapels of Cambridge University........In time, Ramanujan's creative intensity took its toll: he died at the age of thirty-two, but left behind a magical and inspired legacy that is still being plumbed for its secrets today.
438 pp.

The Speed of Dark by Elizabeth Moon [CRussel, Dazrin, gmw]
AmazonUS $12.99 | AmazonUK £3.99 | AmazonCA $12.99 |
AmazonAU $12.99 | Audible WhisperSync $7.49 | AudibleUK WhisperSync £3.99
Spoiler Warning below






Quote Goodreads
In the near future, disease will be a condition of the past. Most genetic defects will be removed at birth; the remaining during infancy. Lou Arrendale, a high-functioning autistic adult, is a member of the lost generation, born at the wrong time to reap the rewards of medical science. He lives a low-key, independent life. But then he is offered a chance to try a brand-new experimental “cure” for his condition. With this treatment Lou would think and act and be just like everyone else. But if he was suddenly free of autism, would he still be himself? Would he still love the same classical music—with its complications and resolutions? Would he still see the same colors and patterns in the world—shades and hues that others cannot see? Most important, would he still love Marjory, a woman who may never be able to reciprocate his feelings? Now Lou must decide if he should submit to a surgery that might completely change the way he views the world . . . and the very essence of who he is.

Thoughtful, provocative, poignant, unforgettable, The Speed of Dark is a gripping journey into the mind of an autistic person as he struggles with profound questions of humanity and matters of the heart.
386 pp.

The Natural by Bernard Malamud [issybird, Catlady, Victoria]
Kobo: US$9.99 | CA$10.99 | AU$14.99 | UK£4.99 | Overdrive: ebook & audiobook
Spoiler Warning below






Quote
The Natural, Bernard Malamud's first novel, published in 1952, is also the first—and some would say still the best—novel ever written about baseball. In it Malamud, usually appreciated for his unerring portrayals of postwar Jewish life, took on very different material—the story of a superbly gifted "natural" at play in the fields of the old daylight baseball era—and invested it with the hardscrabble poetry, at once grand and altogether believable, that runs through all his best work. Four decades later, Alfred Kazin's comment still holds true: "Malamud has done something which—now that he has done it!—looks as if we have been waiting for it all our lives. He has really raised the whole passion and craziness and fanaticism of baseball as a popular spectacle to its ordained place in mythology."
249 pp.

Bee Season by Myla Goldberg [Catlady, Bookworm_Girl, Bookpossum]
Amazon US $10.99 | Overdrive
Spoiler Warning below






Quote
Eliza Naumann, a seemingly unremarkable nine-year-old, expects never to fit into her gifted family: her autodidact father, Saul, absorbed in his study of Jewish mysticism; her brother, Aaron, the vessel of his father's spiritual ambitions; and her brilliant but distant lawyer-mom, Miriam. But when Eliza sweeps her school and district spelling bees in quick succession, Saul takes it as a sign that she is destined for greatness. In this altered reality, Saul inducts her into his hallowed study and lavishes upon her the attention previously reserved for Aaron, who in his displacement embarks upon a lone quest for spiritual fulfillment. When Miriam's secret life triggers a familial explosion, it is Eliza who must order the chaos.

Myla Goldberg's keen eye for detail brings Eliza's journey to three-dimensional life. As she rises from classroom obscurity to the blinding lights and outsized expectations of the National Bee, Eliza's small pains and large joys are finely wrought and deeply felt.

Not merely a coming-of-age story, Goldberg's first novel delicately examines the unraveling fabric of one family. The outcome of this tale is as startling and unconventional as her prose, which wields its metaphors sharply and rings with maturity. The work of a lyrical and gifted storyteller, Bee Season marks the arrival of an extraordinarily talented new writer.
288 pp.

Song of Time by Ian R. MacLeod [gmw, CRussel, Bookworm_Girl]
Amazon US $4.61 | Amazon UK £3.99 | Amazon CA $5.99 | Amazon AU $5.99 | Kobo US $4.99 | Kobo UK £3.99 | Kobo CA $5.99 | Kobo AU $5.99 | Kobo NZ $8.32
Spoiler Warning below






Quote
Roushana Maitland has known great fame and great sorrow throughout her long life. As a world-renowned musician, she was the queen of the Paris bohemians even as nuclear war raged elsewhere around the globe. She lost a beloved brother in a terrorist-created biological nightmare. She sometimes relished, sometimes endured her marriage to a brilliant and unpredictable conductor. Now, she lives out her days on the rugged Cornish coast, remembering past glories and heartbreaks. She struggles with the decision to let her life slip away, or choose a virtual existence for eternity, as so many of her friends and acquaintances have already done.

Then, one day, she discovers a naked young man who has washed up on the beach. She brings him home, dresses him in her husband’s clothes, and calls him “Adam.” As this strange arrival convalesces, Roushana shares her stories and her secrets, recounting the personal landmarks in a remarkable life lived in a world gone mad, even as his own past remains a mystery.
300 pp.
Reply 

#2  issybird 06-01-2019, 07:42 AM
Choices with one or two nominations:

*Gifted by Nikita Lalwani [Catlady]
Amazon US $4.99 | Kobo US $4.99 | Kobo CA $13.99 | Kobo AU $12.99 | Kobo NZ $18.27 | Kobo UK £4.99
Spoiler Warning below






Quote
Rumi Vasi is 10 years, 2 months, 13 days, 2 hours, 42 minutes, and 6 seconds old. She’s figured that the likelihood of her walking home from school with the boy she likes, John Kemble, is 0.2142, a probability severely reduced by the lacy dress and thick woolen tights her father, and Indian émigré, forces her to wear. Rumi is a gifted child, and her father, Mahesh, believes that strict discipline is the key to nurturing her genius if the family has any hope of making its mark on its adoptive country.

Four years later, a teenage Rumi is at the center of an intense campaign by her parents to make her the youngest student ever to attend Oxford University, an effort that requires an unrelenting routine of study. Yet Rumi is growing up like any other normal teen: her mind often drifts to potent distractions . . . from music to love.

Rumi’s parents want nothing other than to give Rumi an exceptional life. As her father outlines ever more regimented study schedules, her mother longs for India and forcefully reminds Rumi of her roots. In the end, the intense expectations of a family with everything to prove will be a combustible ingredient as an intelligent but naive girl is thrust into the adult world before she has time to grow up.

In her stunningly eloquent debut novel, Nikita Lalwani pits a parent’s dream against a child’s. Deftly pondering the complexities and consequences that accompany the best intentions, Gifted explores just how far one person will push another, and how much can be endured, in the name of love.
342 pp.

**Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card [Dazrin, gmw]
Amazon US $5 | CA $9 | UK £6
Spoiler Warning below






Quote
Once again, Earth is under attack. An alien species is poised for a final assault. The survival of humanity depends on a military genius who can defeat the aliens. But who?

Ender Wiggin. Brilliant. Ruthless. Cunning. A tactical and strategic master. And a child.

Winner of the Hugo and Nebula Awards in 1985/86.
325 pp.
Reply 

#3  Bookpossum 06-01-2019, 08:21 AM
I would like to nominate The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon. From Goodreads:

Quote
Christopher John Francis Boone knows all the countries of the world and their capitals and every prime number up to 7,057. He relates well to animals but has no understanding of human emotions. He cannot stand to be touched. And he detests the color yellow.

Although gifted with a superbly logical brain, for fifteen-year-old Christopher everyday interactions and admonishments have little meaning. He lives on patterns, rules, and a diagram kept in his pocket. Then one day, a neighbor's dog, Wellington, is killed and his carefully constructed universe is threatened. Christopher sets out to solve the murder in the style of his favourite (logical) detective, Sherlock Holmes. What follows makes for a novel that is funny, poignant and fascinating in its portrayal of a person whose curse and blessing are a mind that perceives the world entirely literally.
I read this book when it was first published, and couldn't put it down. I found it totally convincing, and though I have no personal experience of living with an individual with Asperger's Syndrome, I was interested when I went in to Goodreads to get the quote above to see that a person whose reviews I follow gave it five stars, and in talking about the book, revealed that his daughter is severely autistic. That seemed to be a very strong endorsement to me.

Don't be put off by all that though - the book is by turns funny and heartbreaking.

Kobo: $US12.99, $C13.99, $A12.99, £3.99.
(I imagine it would be widely available in libraries also.)
Reply 

#4  gmw 06-01-2019, 10:15 AM
I nominate Song of Time by Ian R. MacLeod.

Quote
Roushana Maitland has known great fame and great sorrow throughout her long life. As a world-renowned musician, she was the queen of the Paris bohemians even as nuclear war raged elsewhere around the globe. She lost a beloved brother in a terrorist-created biological nightmare. She sometimes relished, sometimes endured her marriage to a brilliant and unpredictable conductor. Now, she lives out her days on the rugged Cornish coast, remembering past glories and heartbreaks. She struggles with the decision to let her life slip away, or choose a virtual existence for eternity, as so many of her friends and acquaintances have already done.

Then, one day, she discovers a naked young man who has washed up on the beach. She brings him home, dresses him in her husband’s clothes, and calls him “Adam.” As this strange arrival convalesces, Roushana shares her stories and her secrets, recounting the personal landmarks in a remarkable life lived in a world gone mad, even as his own past remains a mystery.
300 pages

Here are some example links/prices:
Amazon US - USD$4.61 | Amazon UK - £3.99 | Amazon CA - CDN$5.99 | Amazon AU - AUD$5.99 | Kobo US - USD$4.99 | Kobo UK - £3.99 | Kobo CA - CAD$5.99 | Kobo AU AUD$5.99 | Kobo NZ NZD$8.32

Also see Goodreads.

This is science-fiction, although on an Amazon review I saw someone describe it as "literary science fiction" (which is perhaps a way to turn off everyone ). But I adored this when I first read it just 6 months ago. What I consider to be the science-fiction part of the story came as no surprise, while the human part was both shocking and yet unsurprising - it made perfect sense and I really like that in a story.

The ebook from JABberwocky Literary Agency has a few proof-reading errors, which was a bit distracting, but they are not too bad.
Reply 

#5  CRussel 06-02-2019, 03:03 AM
And, for a somewhat different take on the autistic mind, I nominate Elizabeth Moon's The Speed of Dark.

Quote Goodreads
In the near future, disease will be a condition of the past. Most genetic defects will be removed at birth; the remaining during infancy. Lou Arrendale, a high-functioning autistic adult, is a member of the lost generation, born at the wrong time to reap the rewards of medical science. He lives a low-key, independent life. But then he is offered a chance to try a brand-new experimental “cure” for his condition. With this treatment Lou would think and act and be just like everyone else. But if he was suddenly free of autism, would he still be himself? Would he still love the same classical music—with its complications and resolutions? Would he still see the same colors and patterns in the world—shades and hues that others cannot see? Most important, would he still love Marjory, a woman who may never be able to reciprocate his feelings? Now Lou must decide if he should submit to a surgery that might completely change the way he views the world . . . and the very essence of who he is.

Thoughtful, provocative, poignant, unforgettable, The Speed of Dark is a gripping journey into the mind of an autistic person as he struggles with profound questions of humanity and matters of the heart.
I found this book amazing and very thought provoking.

AmazonUS -- $12.99
AmazonUK -- £3.99
AmazonCA -- $12.99
AmazonAU-- $12.99

Audible -- WhisperSync $7.49
AudibleUK -- WhisperSync £3.99

Pages: 386 for the US Kindle edition according to Goodreads.
Reply 

#6  CRussel 06-02-2019, 03:06 AM
I'll second The Song of Time. I've heard good things about it, but haven't read it. Yet.
Reply 

#7  issybird 06-02-2019, 01:07 PM
I'll second The Curious Incident....
Reply 

#8  Catlady 06-02-2019, 01:41 PM
I was hoping to nominate Off the Charts: The Hidden Lives and Lessons of American Child Prodigies by Ann Hulbert:

Quote
From the author of the widely praised Raising America—a compelling exploration of child genius told through the gripping stories of fifteen exceptionally gifted boys and girls, from a math wonder a century ago to young jazz and classical piano virtuosos today. A thought-provoking book for a time when parents anxiously aspire to raise "super children" and experts worry the nation is wasting the brilliant young minds it needs.
Ann Hulbert examines the lives of children whose rare accomplishments have raised hopes about untapped human potential and questions about how best to nurture it. She probes the changing role of parents and teachers, as well as of psychologists and a curious press. Above all, she delves into the feelings of the prodigies themselves, who push back against adults more as the decades proceed. Among the children are the math genius Norbert Wiener, founder of cybernetics, a Harvard graduate student at age fifteen; two girls, a poet and a novelist, whose published work stirred debate in the 1920s; the movie superstar Shirley Temple and the African American pianist and composer Philippa Schuyler; the chess champion Bobby Fischer; computer pioneers and autistic "prodigious savants"; and musical prodigies, present and past. Off the Charts also tells the surprising inside stories of Lewis Terman's prewar study of high-IQ children and of the postwar talent search begun at Johns Hopkins, and discovers what Tiger Mom Amy Chua really has to tell us. But in these moving stories, it is the children who deliver the most important messages.
But, alas, it is both less than a year old AND not available in all countries. Phooey.
Reply 

#9  Victoria 06-02-2019, 01:42 PM
I’ll third The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime
Reply 

#10  issybird 06-02-2019, 01:59 PM
Quote Catlady
I was hoping to nominate Off the Charts: The Hidden Lives and Lessons of American Child Prodigies by Ann Hulbert:

But, alas, it is both less than a year old AND not available in all countries. Phooey.
Well, I think we can take the less than a year old rule as a guideline, not an absolute; it's a judgment call based on price and library waiting lists. However, while there's no rule saying we can't nominate books not available in the usual countries, I agree that it tends to be a dealbreaker.

I hear you; some months I go through more than one "perfect" choice only to bump up against the availability problem.
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