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Book for March 06, 2019
Group 3
Meeting at Vicky's place
Submission (Soumission)
Submission (Soumission)

The book's main character François is a literary scholar in his mid forties who teaches at a University in Paris, a specialist in the 19th century French author Joris-Karl Huysmans.François, although much preoccupied with his cooling libido and increasing loneliness is suddenly electrified by events in national politics that have been brewing for a while and now seem to be taking an alarming turn as presidential elections are being held. After the first ballot the Front National is ahead of the newly formed Muslim Brotherhood Party and the Socialists. In order to avoid Marine Le Pen as President of the Republic the Socialists conduct secret negotiations with the Muslim Brothers which eventually result in a Muslim fanatic being elected as President, Mohammed Ben-Abbes, who had initially camouflaged himself as a moderate. A Muslim social order is introduced in France, polygamy becomes the new norm and non-Muslims are fired from their university positions. The Muslim dictator plans the unification of North Africa with a Muslim Europe. At the end of the novel, François, having initially fled to the country, contemplates conversion to Islam with the prospect of a second, better life, with a prestigious job and wives a plenty.

On the day Soumission was published, the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, having dedicated its cover to a caricature of Houellebecq, was attacked by Islamist terrorists, twelve people were killed, eleven others injured.


Author: Michel Houellebecq

Michel Houellebecq (French: [miʃɛl wɛlbɛk]; born Michel Thomas; 26 February 1956, is a French author, filmmaker, and poet. Houellebecq published his first novel, Whatever, in 1994. His next novel, Atomised (Les Particules élémentaires), published in 1998, brought international attention. Platform followed in 2001. In 2010 Houellebecq published La Carte et le Territoire (published the same year in English as The Map and the Territory) which won the Prix Goncourt; and, in 2015, Submission (Soumission). He published several books of poems, including The Art of Struggle (Le sens du combat) in 1996. In 2002, when during a publicity tour for his controversial novel Platform he called Islam "stupid" he was charged for inciting racial and religious hatred. But the charges were ultimately dismissed.

Book for March 13, 2019
Group 2
Frankenstein
Frankenstein
Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus is a novel about a failed artificial life experiment that has produced a monster, written by Mary Shelley. Shelley started writing the story when she was eighteen, and the novel was published when she was twenty-one. The first edition was published anonymously in London in 1818. Shelley's name appears on the second edition, published in France in 1823.

Shelley had travelled the region in which the story takes place, and the topics of galvanism and other similar occult ideas were themes of conversation among her companions. The actual storyline was taken from a dream. Shelley was talking with her three writer-colleagues and they decided they would have a competition to see who could write the best horror story. After thinking for weeks about what her possible storyline could be, Shelley dreamt about a scientist who created life and was horrified by what he had made. Then Frankenstein was written.

Frankenstein is infused with some elements of the Gothic novel and the Romantic movement and is also considered to be one of the earliest examples of science fiction. It is partially based on Giovanni Aldini's electrical experiments on dead and (sometimes) living animals and was also a warning against the expansion of modern man in the Industrial Revolution, alluded to in its subtitle, The Modern Prometheus. It has had a considerable influence across literature and popular culture and spawned a complete genre of horror stories and films.

The name "Frankenstein" – actually the novel's human protagonist – is often incorrectly used to refer to the monster itself. In the novel, the monster is identified via words such as "monster", "fiend", "wretch", "vile insect", "daemon", and "it"; Shelley herself called it "Adam".

Author: Mary Shelley
(née Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin; 30 August 1797 – 1 February 1851) was a British novelist, short story writer, dramatist, essayist, biographer, and travel writer, best known for her Gothic novel Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus (1818). She also edited and promoted the works of her husband, the Romantic poet and philosopher Percy Bysshe Shelley. Her father was the political philosopher William Godwin, and her mother was the philosopher and feminist Mary Wollstonecraft.

Mary Godwin's mother died when she was eleven days old; afterwards, she and her older half-sister, Fanny Imlay, were raised by her father. When Mary was four, Godwin married his neighbour, Mary Jane Clairmont. Godwin provided his daughter with a rich, if informal, education, encouraging her to adhere to his liberal political theories. In 1814, Mary Godwin began a romantic relationship with one of her father’s political followers, the married Percy Bysshe Shelley. Together with Mary's stepsister, Claire Clairmont, they left for France and travelled through Europe; upon their return to England, Mary was pregnant with Percy's child. Over the next two years, she and Percy faced ostracism, constant debt, and the death of their prematurely born daughter. They married in late 1816 after the suicide of Percy Shelley's first wife, Harriet.

In 1816, the couple famously spent a summer with Lord Byron, John William Polidori, and Claire Clairmont near Geneva, Switzerland, where Mary conceived the idea for her novel Frankenstein. The Shelleys left Britain in 1818 for Italy, where their second and third children died before Mary Shelley gave birth to her last and only surviving child, Percy Florence. In 1822, her husband drowned when his sailing boat sank during a storm in the Bay of La Spezia. A year later, Mary Shelley returned to England and from then on devoted herself to the upbringing of her son and a career as a professional author. The last decade of her life was dogged by illness, probably caused by the brain tumour that was to kill her at the age of 53.

Until the 1970s, Mary Shelley was known mainly for her efforts to publish Percy Shelley's works and for her novel Frankenstein, which remains widely read and has inspired many theatrical and film adaptations. Recent scholarship has yielded a more comprehensive view of Mary Shelley’s achievements. Scholars have shown increasing interest in her literary output, particularly in her novels, which include the historical novels Valperga (1823) and Perkin Warbeck (1830), the apocalyptic novel The Last Man (1826), and her final two novels, Lodore (1835) and Falkner (1837). Studies of her lesser-known works such as the travel book Rambles in Germany and Italy (1844) and the biographical articles for Dionysius Lardner's Cabinet Cyclopaedia (1829–46) support the growing view that Mary Shelley remained a political radical throughout her life. Mary Shelley's works often argue that cooperation and sympathy, particularly as practised by women in the family, were the ways to reform civil society. This view was a direct challenge to the individualistic Romantic ethos promoted by Percy Shelley and the Enlightenment political theories articulated by her father, William Godwin.
Book for March 15, 2019
Group 1
Meeting at Steve's place
Less
Less
Who says you can’t run away from your problems? You are a failed novelist about to turn fifty. A wedding invitation arrives in the mail: your boyfriend of the past nine years is engaged to someone else. You can’t say yes–it would be too awkward–and you can’t say no–it would look like defeat. On your desk are a series of invitations to half-baked literary events around the world.

QUESTION: How do you arrange to skip town?

ANSWER: You accept them all.What would possibly go wrong?

Arthur Less will almost fall in love in Paris, almost fall to his death in Berlin, barely escape to a Moroccan ski chalet from a Saharan sandstorm, accidentally book himself as the (only) writer-in-residence at a Christian Retreat Center in Southern India, and encounter, on a desert island in the Arabian Sea, the last person on Earth he wants to face. Somewhere in there: he will turn fifty. Through it all, there is his first love. And there is his last. Because, despite all these mishaps, missteps, misunderstandings and mistakes, Less is, above all, a love story.

A scintillating satire of the American abroad, a rumination on time and the human heart, a bittersweet romance of chances lost, by an author The New York Times has hailed as “inspired, lyrical,” “elegiac,” “ingenious,” as well as “too sappy by half,” Less shows a writer at the peak of his talents raising the curtain on our shared human comedy.

Less won the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. In reporting the award, the Associated Press accidentally wrote the novel's title as "Fearless." The book also was a New York Times best seller, won the Northern California Book Award, and was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Fiction.

Author: Andrew Sean Greer
Andrew Sean Greer was born in November 1970, in Washington, D.C., the child of two scientists. He grew up in Rockville, Maryland. He is an identical twin. He graduated from Georgetown Day School. He lives part time in Italy. He is the author of six works of fiction. Greer taught at Freie Universität Berlin and the Iowa Writers Workshop. He was a finalist for the Premio von Rezzori for a work translated into Italian, as well as a Today Show pick, a New York Public Library Cullman Center Fellow, and NEA Fellow, and a judge for the National Book Award.
Book for March 20, 2019
Group 4
Educated
Educated
Tara Westover was 17 the first time she set foot in a classroom. Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, she prepared for the end of the world by stockpiling home-canned peaches and sleeping with her "head-for-the-hills bag". In the summer she stewed herbs for her mother, a midwife and healer, and in the winter she salvaged in her father's junkyard. Her father forbade hospitals, so Tara never saw a doctor or nurse. Gashes and concussions, even burns from explosions, were all treated at home with herbalism. The family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure the children received an education and no one to intervene when one of Tara's older brothers became violent. Then, lacking any formal education, Tara began to educate herself. She taught herself enough mathematics and grammar to be admitted to Brigham Young University, where she studied history, learning for the first time about important world events like the Holocaust and the civil rights movement. Her quest for knowledge transformed her, taking her over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge. Only then would she wonder if she'd traveled too far, if there was still a way home. Educated is an account of the struggle for self-invention. It is a tale of fierce family loyalty and of the grief that comes with severing the closest of ties. With the acute insight that distinguishes all great writers, Westover has crafted a universal coming-of-age story that gets to the heart of what an education is and what it offers: the perspective to see one's life through new eyes and the will to change it.

Author: Tara Westover
Tara Westover (born September 1986) is an American memoirist, essayist and historian. Born in Idaho to a father opposed to public education, she never attended school. She spent her days working in her father's junkyard or stewing herbs for her mother, a self-taught herbalist and midwife. She was seventeen the first time she set foot in a classroom. After that first encounter with education, she pursued learning for a decade, graduating magna cum laude from Brigham Young University in 2008 and subsequently winning a Gates Cambridge Scholarship. She earned an MPhil from Trinity College, Cambridge in 2009, and in 2010 was a visiting fellow at Harvard University. She returned to Cambridge, where she was awarded a PhD in history in 2014.
Book for April 03, 2019
Group 3
Orlando: A Biography
Orlando: A Biography

was first published on 11 October 1928. The book stages the adventures of a poet who is born as a male nobleman in England during the reign of Elizabeth I, undergoes a mysterious sex change at age 30, and lives on for more than 300 years into modern times. During her long life she meets the key figures of English literary history. The satire Orlando: A Biography is today considered a feminist classic.


Author: Virginia Woolf
Adeline Virginia Woolf (1882 – 1941) was an English writer who is considered one of the foremost modernists of the twentieth century, and a pioneer in the use of stream of consciousness as a narrative device. Born in an affluent household in Kensington, London, she attended the King's College London and was acquainted with the early reformers of women's higher education. Woolf began writing professionally in 1900.

During the interwar period, Woolf was a significant figure in London literary society and a central figure in the influential Bloomsbury Group of intellectuals. She published her first novel The Voyage Out in 1915, through the Hogarth Press, a publishing house that she established with her husband, Leonard Woolf. Her best-known works include the novels Mrs Dalloway (1925), To the Lighthouse (1927) and Orlando (1928), and the book-length essay "A Room of One's Own" (1929).
Book for April 12, 2019
Group 1
Meeting at Jon's place
A Place For Us
A Place For Us
As an Indian wedding gathers a family back together, parents Rafiq and Layla must reckon with the choices their children have made.

There is Hadia: their headstrong, eldest daughter, whose marriage is a match of love and not tradition. Huda, the middle child, determined to follow in her sister’s footsteps. And lastly, their estranged son, Amar, who returns to the family fold for the first time in three years to take his place as brother of the bride.

What secrets and betrayals have caused this close-knit family to fracture? Can Amar find his way back to the people who know and love him best?

A Place for Us takes us back to the beginning of this family’s life: from the bonds that bring them together, to the differences that pull them apart. All the joy and struggle of family life is here, from Rafiq and Layla’s own arrival in America from India, to the years in which their children -- each in their own way -- tread between two cultures, seeking to find their place in the world, as well as a path home.

A Place for Us is a book for our times: an astonishingly tender-hearted novel of identity and belonging, and a resonant portrait of what it means to be an American family today. It announces Fatima Farheen Mirza as a major new literary talent.

Author: Fatima Farheen Mirza
Fatima Farheen Mirza was born in 1991 and raised in California. She is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and a recipient of the Michener-Copernicus Fellowship. A Place For Us is her debut novel.
Book for April 17, 2019
Group 4
Kitchen Confidential
Kitchen Confidential
Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly is a New York Times bestselling non-fiction book written by American chef Anthony Bourdain, first published in 2000. In 1999, Bourdain's essay "Don't Eat Before Reading This" was published in the New Yorker. This served as the foundation for Kitchen Confidential. Released in 2000, the book is both Bourdain's professional memoir and a behind-the-scenes look at restaurant kitchens. The book is known for its treatment of the professional culinary industry, which he describes as an intense, unpleasant, and sometimes hazardous workplace staffed by who he describes as misfits. Bourdain believes that the workplace is not for hobbyists and that anyone entering the industry without a masochistic, irrational dedication to cooking will be deterred. The book alternates between a confessional narrative and an industry commentary, providing insightful and humorous anecdotes on the cooking trade. Bourdain has cited George Orwell's Down and Out in Paris and London (1933), with its behind-the-scenes examination of the restaurant business in 1920s Paris, as an important influence on the book's themes and tone. Bourdain details some of his personal misdeeds and weaknesses, including drug use. He explains how restaurants function economically and warns consumers of the various tricks of restaurateurs.

Author: Anthony Bourdain
Anthony Michael Bourdain (June 25, 1956 – June 8, 2018) was an American celebrity chef, author, travel documentarian, and television personality who starred in programs focusing on the exploration of international culture, cuisine, and the human condition. He was considered one of the most influential chefs in the world. Bourdain was a 1978 graduate of The Culinary Institute of America and a veteran of a number of professional kitchens in his long career, which included many years spent as executive chef at Brasserie Les Halles in Manhattan. He first became known for his bestselling book Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly (2000). In 2013, he began a three-season run as a judge on The Taste, and concurrently switched his travelogue programming to CNN to host Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown. Though best known for his culinary achievements and television presentations, along with several books on food and cooking and travel adventures, Bourdain also wrote both fiction and historical nonfiction. On June 8, 2018, Bourdain committed suicide while on location in France for Parts Unknown.