THE POLL IS NOW CLOSED.
Here are the options for January. Each club with the exception of New York and Vancouver (who are both going through re-structuring) have put forth a book choice so that we can have a worldwide vote. The poll is below this, so have a quick read of the choices and pick which one appeals most to you. I’ve also linked each title to the book on Amazon.co.uk so you can have a further look if you like.
Oklahoma: A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
In 1918 Ernest Hemingway went to war, to the ‘war to end all wars’. He volunteered for ambulance service in Italy, was wounded and twice decorated. Out of his experiences came A Farewell to Arms.
In an unforgettable depiction of war, Hemingway recreates the fear, the comradeship, the courage of his young American volunteers and the men and women he encounters along the way with conviction and brutal honesty. A love story of immense drama and uncompromising passion, A Farewell to Arms is a testament to Hemingway’s unique and unflinching view of the world and the people around him.
Toronto: She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb
“Mine is a story of craving; an unreliable account of lusts and troubles that began, somehow, in 1956 on the day our free television was delivered.” So begins the story of Dolores Price, the unconventional heroine of Wally Lamb’s She’s Come Undone. Dolores is a class-A emotional basket case, and why shouldn’t she be? She’s suffered almost every abuse and familial travesty that exists: her father is a violent, philandering liar; her mother has the mental and emotional consistency of Jell-O; and the men in her life are among the most loathsome creatures ever to go by the name of man. But Dolores is no quitter; she battles her woes with a sense of self-indulgence and gluttony rivalled only by Henry VIII. Hers is a dysfunctional Wonder Years, where growing up in the golden era was anything but ideal. While most kids her age were dealing with the monumental importance of the latest Beatles single and how college turned an older sibling into a long-haired hippie, Dolores was grappling with such issues as divorce, rape and mental illness. Whether you’re disgusted by her antics or moved by her pathetic ploys, you’ll be drawn into Dolores’s warped, hilarious, Mallomar-munching world.
London: Alone in Berlin by Hans Fallada
Inspired by a true story, Hans Fallada’s Alone in Berlin is the gripping tale of an ordinary man’s determination to defy the tyranny of Nazi rule. This Penguin Classics edition contains an afterword by Geoff Wilkes, as well as facsimiles of the original Gestapo file which inspired the novel.
Berlin, 1940, and the city is filled with fear. At the house on 55 Jablonski Strasse, its various occupants try to live under Nazi rule in their different ways: the bullying Hitler loyalists the Persickes, the retired judge Fromm and the unassuming couple Otto and Anna Quangel. Then the Quangels receive the news that their beloved son has been killed fighting in France. Shocked out of their quiet existence, they begin a silent campaign of defiance, and a deadly game of cat and mouse develops between the Quangels and the ambitious Gestapo inspector Escherich. When petty criminals Kluge and Borkhausen also become involved, deception, betrayal and murder ensue, tightening the noose around the Quangels’ necks …
San Francisco & Denver: Life of Pi by Yann Martel (chosen by both cities!)
Some books defy categorisation: Life of Pi, the second novel from Canadian writer Yann Martel, is a case in point: just about the only thing you can say for certain about it is that it is fiercely and admirably unique. The plot, if that’s the right word, concerns the oceanic wanderings of a lost boy, the young and eager Piscine Patel of the title (Pi). After a colourful and loving upbringing in gorgeously-hued India, the Muslim-Christian-animistic Pi sets off for a fresh start in Canada. His blissful voyage is rudely interrupted when his boat is scuppered halfway across the Pacific, and he is forced to rough it in a lifeboat with a hyena, a monkey, a whingeing zebra and a tiger called Richard. That would be bad enough, but from here on things get weirder: the animals start slaughtering each other in a veritable frenzy of allegorical bloodlust, until Richard the tiger and Pi are left alone to wander the wastes of ocean, with plenty of time to ponder their fate, the cruelty of the gods, the best way to handle storms and the various different recipes for oothappam, scrapple and coconut yam kootu.
Perth: Additions by Toni Jordan
Grace Lisa Vandenburg counts. The letters in her name (19). The steps she takes every morning to the local café (920). The number of poppy seeds on her orange cake, which dictates the number of bites she’ll take to eat it. Grace counts everything, because that way there are no unpleasant surprises. Seamus Joseph O’Reilly (also a 19) thinks she might be better off without the counting. If she could hold down a job, say. Or open her cupboards without conducting an inventory, or leave her flat without measuring the walls.
Grace’s problem is that Seamus doesn’t count. Her other problem is . . . he does. As Grace struggles to balance a new relationship with old habits, to find a way to change while staying true to herself, she realises that nothing is more chaotic than love.
Melbourne: The Woman Who Dived into the Heart of the World by Sabrina Bergman
In the wake of her sister’s death, Isabelle moves from her home in California to her birthplace in Mexico to take over the running of the family tuna company. There, she discovers a wild child with no name, who turns out to be the autistic niece she never knew she had. Isabelle names the girl Karen and takes it upon herself to cherish and nurture her. So begins a miraculous journey for Karen, who finds freedom not only in the love of her aunt, but also at the bottom of the ocean…A one-of-a-kind novel from a one-of-a-kind writer, The Woman Who Dived into the Heart of the World will open your eyes and break your heart.
Nashville: Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jaime Ford
1986, The Panama Hotel The old Seattle landmark has been boarded up for decades, but now the new owner has made a startling discovery in the basement: personal belongings stored away by Japanese families sent to interment camps during the Second World War. Among the fascinated crowd gathering outside the hotel, stands Henry Lee, and, as the owner unfurls a distinctive parasol, he is flooded by memories of his childhood. He wonders if by some miracle, in amongst the boxes of dusty treasures, lies a link to the Okabe family, and the girl he lost his young heart to, so many years ago.
Wellington:The Garden Party and Other Short Stories by Katherine Mansfield
Innovative, startlingly perceptive and aglow with colour, these fifteen stories were written towards the end of Katherine Mansfield’s tragically short life. Many are set in the author’s native New Zealand, others in England and the French Riviera. All are revelations of the unspoken, half-understood emotions that make up everyday experience – from the blackly comic ‘The Daughters of the Late Colonel’, and the short, sharp sketch ‘Miss Brill’, in which a lonely woman’s precarious sense of self is brutally destroyed, to the vivid impressionistic evocation of family life in ‘At the Bay’. ‘All that I write,’ Mansfield said, ‘all that I am – is on the borders of the sea. It is a kind of playing.’