Monday, January 21, 2008

At my next bookclub meeting, we'll be choosing six books to read in the coming year. I'm taking my role in this far too seriously. I feel like I'm about to be exiled to a desert island and I can only take six books. Well, that's not exactly it. On a desert island I'd need books from which I could draw eternal intellectual stimulation and pleasure and comfort. (And maybe a survival guide.)

For my book group, I need books that will have some general appeal (Not so much Flatland - the choice from which my reputation is still recovering. It's not so much that my friends didn't like it. It's that it was a book about - gasp - math! Not a math book, mind you. But a story which required a grasp of some fairly sophisticated math concepts.)

For the bookclub I want books which benefit from the critical reading that the anticipated group discussion requires. Add that to my personal criteria: some classics, some contemporary fiction, something thought provoking that adds to my understanding of the world and the human condition. And, as if that weren't enough, I want beautiful, challenging language.

Okay, I'm ruling out Don Quixote (despite the obvious analogy to my quest for the perfect book.) It definitely meets the criteria. But I'm gonna need weekly discussions for that. And my group only meets every two months. Likewise, Ulysses and many more of the classics on my "to read before I die" list.

I have lists. Nobel Prize winners. Pulitzer Prize winners. Booker Prize winners. New York Times Bestsellers. Random House's Modern Library best novels. Even Oprah's Bookclub. And Rebecca has collected more booklists than I can imagine.

So here are my preliminary picks for contemporary fiction. Ta-da:

The Reader, Bernhard Schlink (NYT Bestseller)

Absurdistan, Gary Shteyngarat (NYT Top 10 Books of the year)

The Hours, Michael Cunningham (Pulitzer Prize Winner)

Tomorrow: classics.

1 comment:

Leendaluu said...

I have to recommend 'The Woman in White' by Wilkie Collins...I'm just finishing it now, though it is a bit hefty for a book club at 600+ pages. It was written in 1860 but is a remarkable read now.