New Leaf September Nominations • Over the Hills and Far Away: Journeys
#1  CRussel 08-01-2020, 12:27 AM
Good morning, and welcome to the New Leaf Book Club's September Book Nomination thread where we select the book that the New Leaf Book Club will read in September, 2020. The theme is Over the Hills and Far Away: Journeys.

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 9 AM PST, August 7, 2020. Each nomination requires a second to make it to the poll, which will remain open for three days. The discussion of the selection will start on September 15, 2020.

And don't forget to join us for the discussion of Stephen Leacock's Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town, our August selection. That discussion starts on Saturday, August 15th. (Or whenever I manage to get the discussion thread up!)

Any questions? See the FAQ below, or just ask!

FAQs for the Nomination, Selection and Discussion process

General Guidelines for the New Leaf Book Club

Official choices with two nominations:

#2  CRussel 08-01-2020, 12:28 AM
Nominations awaiting a second:

#3  CRussel 08-01-2020, 01:19 AM
Hmm, so many possibilities for this theme. My favourite, West with the Night, isn't eligible yet. But there's always Steinbeck's Travels with Charlie , that should be fun. Or Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods. Sigh, must think about this. Hmmm. Or, since West with the Night isn't eligible, how about a somewhat different take on very much the same period and place? We could do Elspeth Huxley's The Flame Trees of Thika, or maybe Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen/Karen Blixen? Sigh, sadly, I suspect all three of the colonial Africa books are showing their age, though I admit to having enjoyed each of them in spite of that.

Or, how about going at it a completely different way -- with something like Patrick O'Brian's Master and Commander, or one of the Sharpe books from Bernard Cornwell.

Finally (well, for now, anyway), it seems to me that there are a whole range of Space Operas that would fit the category.

I can see it's going to take me a bit to pick just one or two to nominate. Ah, well, I'll be back.

#4  gmw 08-01-2020, 04:03 AM
This theme instantly made me think of The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien (There and Back Again, a Hobbit's Tale by Bilbo Baggins), but I expect everyone that wants to has probably read it already.

Given the concept of the monomyth, or the Hero's Journey, pretty much adventure story could be said to fit the theme.

I'm thinking non-fiction might be good. I failed to get one David Attenborough up in April, but I've got another I want to read ... but for the moment I will keep thinking about it.

#5  Catlady 08-01-2020, 11:33 AM
I nominate Skeletons at the Feast by Chris Bohjalian (2008, 386 pp.). (I nominated it earlier this year, and the interest in it was underwhelming--not even a second!--but I am undeterred.)

In January 1945, in the waning months of World War II, a small group of people begin the longest journey of their lives: an attempt to cross the remnants of the Third Reich, from Warsaw to the Rhine if necessary, to reach the British and American lines.

Among the group is eighteen-year-old Anna Emmerich, the daughter of Prussian aristocrats. There is her lover, Callum Finella, a twenty-year-old Scottish prisoner of war who was brought from the stalag to her family’s farm as forced labor. And there is a twenty-six-year-old Wehrmacht corporal, who the pair know as Manfred–who is, in reality, Uri Singer, a Jew from Germany who managed to escape a train bound for Auschwitz.

As they work their way west, they encounter a countryside ravaged by war. Their flight will test both Anna’s and Callum’s love, as well as their friendship with Manfred–assuming any of them even survive.

Perhaps not since The English Patient has a novel so deftly captured both the power and poignancy of romance and the terror and tragedy of war. Skillfully portraying the flesh and blood of history, Chris Bohjalian has crafted a rich tapestry that puts a face on one of the twentieth century’s greatest tragedies–while creating, perhaps, a masterpiece that will haunt readers for generations.
"The perfect novel for a book club. . .this book sucked me right in. It’s vivid and heart-wrenching."
—John Searles, The Today Show

"Reading Bohjalian's descriptions of terror and tragedy on the road has just as much impact as seeing newsreels from the end of World War II....While creating suspense, Bohjalian agilely balances the moral ambiguities of war....Right and wrong shift depending on the situation. Ignorance is tolerated and murder is justified. But Bohjalian does posit that one absolute exists: No one wins at war."
—Dennis Moore, USA Today

"Harrowing. . .ingenious. . .compelling. . .Judging who's right or wrong is difficult in Skeletons at the Feast, and one senses that's just the way Bohjalian wants it. . .A tightly woven, moving story for anyone who thinks there's nothing left to learn, or feel, about the Second World War. That Bohjalian can extract greater truths about faith, hope and compassion from something as mundane as a diary is testament not only to his skill as a writer but also to the enduring ability of well-written war fiction to stir our deepest emotions."
—Paula L. Woods, The Los Angeles Times

"Harrowing. . .Bohjalian spins a suspenseful tale in which the plot triumphs over any single sorrow. . .[His] sense of character and place, his skillful plotting and his clear grasp of this confusing period of history make for a deeply satisfying novel, one that asks readers to consider, and reconsider, how they would rise to the challenge of terrible deprivation and agonizing moral choices."
-- Margot Livesey, The Washington Post Book World
Available in all relevant countries and through Overdrive (e-book and audiobook).

Amazon U.S., $12.99

#6  Victoria 08-01-2020, 04:02 PM
I immediately thought of Fellowship of the Rings - which is my quintessential ‘over the hills’ book. Lovely wafts of nostalgia. But as gmw said about The Hobbit, everyone who wants to read it, already has.

Several of the old classics, like Huckleberry Finn come to mind, but I’m afraid they haven’t aged well. I’ve read several articles on the best adventure books, etc, but nothing quite fits. So I need to do a bit more thinking too.

Charlie, fwiw, I think the space operas would fit the theme very well.

#7  CRussel 08-02-2020, 12:21 AM
Quote Victoria
Charlie, fwiw, I think the space operas would fit the theme very well.
Well, while I'm sure you and I wouldn't object to a re-read of, say, Balance of Trade, a perfect journey book on several different levels, some amongst us dislike anything SFF almost as much as I abhor horror, or really, anything even moderately dark. So I'm hoping to go with something of somewhat more general acceptability.

#8  drofgnal 08-02-2020, 06:19 AM
The first book I thought of was Noah Gordon's Physician. From Amazon:

Spoiler Warning below

When nine-year-old Rob Cole felt the life force slipping from his mother's hand he could not foresee that this terrifying awareness of impending death was a gift that would lead him from the familiar life of 11th-century London to small villages throughout England and finally to the medical school at Ispahan. Though apprenticed to an itinerant barber surgeon, it is the dazzling surgery of a Jewish physician trained by the legendary Persian physician Avicenna that inspires him to accept his gift and to commit his life to healing by studying at Avicenna's school. Despite the ban on Christian students, Rob goes there, disguising himself as a Jew to gain admission. Gordon has written an adventurous and inspiring tale of a quest for medical knowledge pursued in a violent world full of superstition and prejudice. Recommended. Literary Guild alternate. Cynthia Johnson Whealler, Cary Memorial Lib., Lexington, Mass.

I'm not nominating this, I've read it so I'm just putting it out there if someone else wants to. Warning, It's quite lengthy. 838 pages.

#9  gmw 08-02-2020, 07:16 AM
Quote drofgnal
The first book I thought of was Noah Gordon's Physician. From Amazon: [...]
I read this 15-20 years ago and enjoyed it enough that I recently purchased ebook editions of this and the two sequels on special, intending to re-read. So I'd be up for it if others were interested, but you're right, drofgnal, it is quite a doorstop of a book, and could be a bit much to expect for a club read.

I'm tempted to nominate The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro, because I liked it a lot and would like to re-read it soon ... but our last Ishiguro got very a mixed reception here.

#10  Victoria 08-02-2020, 11:32 AM
Well, this is a cliché, and probably a groaner. However, it’s been on my tbr list for most of my lifetime, so if not by now, when? Plus, it does sound like fun. Therefore, I nominate Around the World in Eighty Days ,by Jules Verne. Depending on the translation, it’s approximately 130 pages.

From Wikipedia:

“ The story starts in London on Wednesday, 2 October 1872.

Phileas Fogg is a rich British gentleman living in solitude. Despite his wealth, Fogg lives a modest life with habits carried out with mathematical precision. Very little can be said about his social life other than that he is a member of the Reform Club, where he spends much of every day. Having dismissed his former valet, James Forster, for bringing him shaving water at 84 °F (29 °C) instead of 86 °F (30 °C), Fogg hires Frenchman Jean Passepartout as a replacement.

At the Reform Club, Fogg gets involved in an argument over an article in The Daily Telegraph stating that with the opening of a new railway section in India, it is now possible to travel around the world in 80 days. He accepts a wager for £20,000, half of his total fortune, from his fellow club members to complete such a journey within this time period. With Passepartout accompanying him, Fogg departs from London by train at 8:45 p.m. on 2 October; in order to win the wager, he must return to the club by this same time on 21 December, 80 days later. They take the remaining £20,000 of Fogg's fortune with them to cover expenses during the journey.”

It’s in the public domain, and available via overdrive.

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