For our second book-club subject, I’ve picked a long list of 10 books, half fiction, half non-fiction. Two of them, The Sisters Brothers and The Cat’s Table, were runners up behind Half-Blood Blues for our first discussion.
Others, such as The Sense of an Ending and In the Garden of Beasts, I’ve included because some of you proposed them as good choices.
And some books I’ve included because I want to read them ( The Hare with Amber Eyes, The Memory Chalet, Death Comes to Pemberley) or they are topical ( Prisoner of Tehran) or they are provocative ( The World Without Us and Room).
The final choice is up to you. Please vote for your favourite; you can also discuss the choices online here with me and your fellow club members.
We will announce the winner on Feb. 18 online and in Saturday’s Books section.
We will have two weeks to read the chosen book and we will begin our conversation on Monday, March 5.
1. Julian Barnes, The Sense of an Ending. A mysterious legacy prompts a middle-aged man to review his life, his loves and his childhood friends and question his own morality. Winner of the Man Booker Prize (2011).
2. Edmund de Waal, The Hare with Amber Eyes. When ceramic artist de Waal inherits a collection of netsukes, he becomes curious about his family and the provenance of the Japanese carvings they collected. The result is a riveting political and artistic history of the 20th century. Winner of the 2011 Costa Award.
3. Patrick deWitt, The Sisters Brothers. Two brothers, killers for hire, track their quarry through the Wild West and into the unexplored reaches of their own past. Winner of the Rogers Writers’ Trust Prize and the Governor-General’s Award (2011).
4. P. D. James, Death Comes to Pemberley. The creator of detective Adam Dalgliesh combines her two great passions – writing detective novels and Jane Austen – in a whodunit sequel to Pride and Prejudice.
5. Emma Donoghue, Room. Written in the voice of a five-year-old boy, born to a sex slave kept in a locked shed in contemporary America, the novel explores safety, motherhood and freedom in a compelling narrative. Winner of the 2010 Rogers Writers’ Trust Award.
6. Tony Judt, The Memory Chalet. Before Judt, a key postwar historian, died far too young of ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) in 2010, he spent his motionless nights composing these exquisite essays about his life and our times – and dictated them to a friend in his remaining daylight hours.
7. Erik Larson, In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin. Larsen, a prize-winning journalist, documents life under Adolf Hitler through the diaries of William E. Dodd, the U.S. ambassador to Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1937.
8. Michael Ondaatje, The Cat’s Table. A voyage from Ceylon to England is a coming-of-age story about a boy caught between two worlds and the fascinating and disturbing characters he meets en route.
9. Marina Nemat, Prisoner of Tehran. Nemat’s bestselling memoir of her arrest and incarceration in Iran’s infamous Evin Prison as a teenaged prisoner offers insights into her survival and the country behind today’s headlines.
10. Alan Weisman, The World Without Us. What if humans ceased to exist? That is the question behind Weisman’s fascinating look at what would happen to the Earth if nature were allowed its way because we were no longer around to mess it up.