March Voting

It’s that time again, Litwits!  You’ll be receiving the voting link soon (if not, please email me or comment here) for our March selection.  This time around Jessica did the choosing and here’s her reasoning behind her fantastic selections:

I joined Litwits to change my reading habits: I love to read, but as a magazine editor, that’s what I do all day! When I come home after work, sometimes it’s just easier to reread a favorite than to put my energy into a new book. So when Brooke offered me the opportunity to choose this month’s selections, I knew I had to pick books I had never read. And since my husband and I are saving for a house, the books had to be on my bookshelf or readily available from the library. Those criteria still resulted in a pretty long list, but these are the titles that most spoke to me.

Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter, by Tom Franklin. This book has been on my list for a year—ever since I read the first few pages on Amazon and was annoyed that the excerpt ended with a cliffhanger! The effusive reviews from Amazon readers added to my enthusiasm. The story of a mystery that spans decades and takes place in a small Southern town reminds me of one of my favorite Southern authors, Ron Rash. (Having grown up in the country, I’m a sucker for books that are set in the rural South.)

A Beautiful Place to Die, by Malla Nunn. I picked this book from a Borders bargain rack last year, and it jumps out at me every time I pass my bookshelf; I don’t know why I haven’t read it yet. Like Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter, it’s a mystery, but this one’s set in South Africa. My favorite college class was on the history of Africa—it was my only 8 a.m. class in four years, which should tell you how good it was. Some of the best nonfiction I’ve ever read came from those assignments. But I’ve yet to find a novel that compares, so I’m hoping this will be it!

Love in the Time of Cholera, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. My introduction to Garcia Marquez was The Autumn of the Patriarch—not the best choice, since it consists of about ten sentences spread over 200 pages. A friend assures me that his other books are much easier to read and are worth the effort, and I’ve been meaning to give him another chance. This one’s her favorite, so it made my 2012 reading list.

True Grit, by Charles Portis. I added the Jeff Bridges movie to my Netflix queue and thought, I wonder if that’s based on a book? And it was! As a child, I did my homework in the living room while my father watched Westerns (well, those and horror movies), so the genre is very special to me. But I’ve only read Larry McMurtry (Lonesome Dove) and would like to try something different.  Amazon describes Portis as “one of America’s foremost comic writers,” and Western plus comedy seems like an ideal pairing—not to mention, the John Wayne version of True Grit is one of those movies I watched during homework time.

I hope everyone is having a wonderful 2012 so far and don’t forget to vote!  Voting will end one week from today!

Time to Vote!

With December’s meetup quickly approaching and January’s novel already selected, we’re now ready to vote for our February book!  This month our feature member making the selections is….ME!  In case you’ve forgotten, each member who was present at the very first meetup back in September 2010 gets to choose a month in 2012 and choose the books we vote on!  February is the perfect month for me since I was born on a cold February morning nearly 28 years ago.  You’ll be receiving your voting emails shortly, but I thought I’d augment the simple synopsis provided by enlightening everyone on why I made the selections I did.

I really thought this would be a simple task, but didn’t turn out that way at all.  I made numerous lists of books I love or would love to read.  I emailed Victoria my selections to get her opinion and had my final list approved and ready to go!  But then I got to thinking – which is always dangerous.  Three of the four books I had selected were typical Brooke reads – all living comfortably inside my comfort zone which generally means written long ago.  So I slashed the list and tried to come up with a theme that challenged me – or at least took me out of my reading rut.  Only one of the four novels was something I wouldn’t normally read – contemporary fiction.  I run screaming from bestseller lists and firmly keep my face planted in 19th century literature or wacky sci-fi/fantasy stuff.  Don’t know why – perhaps it’s the hype/buzz that frightens me.  I prefer a book that has stood the test of time.  Anyway, my four selections challenge that notion – all have been major bestsellers, award winners, critically acclaimed novels from the the past 5 years.

Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese was published in January 2010.  It’s a novel written by a doctor and partially takes place in Ethiopia – so definitely something a bit different than I’ve ever read.  I mainly selected this novel because in the world of book blogging and word-of-mouth book praising, this story always garners high praise.  Even other readers as jaded with book critics as myself love this lovely little paperback!  Another plus, it’s probably the only book on my list that will be available in paperback.  I think I just scored it several economically driven votes.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer is both a novel and author I’ve been meaning to read for some time – and it’s in paperback as well (I feel bad for getting Cutting the Stone’s hopes up).  Published in 2006, there’s a movie version coming out starring Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock which seems intriguing.  This particular novel was the only original selection to survive off my first list – why?  I have a weird obsession with post-9/11 fiction that actually deals with that day.  There’s very little literature written yet about those tragic events so when a book pops up proclaiming to offer some sort of insight, theory, or just humanized depiction I need to read it.  Plus, I think many Americans are still trying to figure out what that day means to us – a great discussion could easily be born.

The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach is brand spanking new and still all hard and shiny.  Touted by many people who claim to know these things as one of the top 10 books of 2011.  Amazon.com named the book it’s number 1 novel of 2011 – high praise, indeed.  I have a special place in my heart for baseball and many other team sports (Go Dawgs!!).  To me, team sports connect people from all different walks of life, teach valuable lessons to the young and old, and promote a sense of community so often lacking in today’s society.  In my head, I’m fairly certain this is a novel about baseball like Friday Night Lights was a television show about football – which means mostly not at all.  It’s a book about one sport, one event, one central current bringing together people in the same way that the most mundane objects and events can bring us together in a sweetly profound way.  I sure hope I’m right!

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline made it’s sparkly debut in August to the cries and cheers of critics worldwide.  I selected this one for myriad reasons – namely it’s sci-fi which I love.  For those haters out there, science fiction provides such a creative outlet for commentaries on the world we live in today and the world we hope to live in tomorrow.  I’ll also be honest and tell you that the catchphrases ‘nerdy romance’ and ’80s nostalgia’ kind of made me love the book’s description in an almost embarrassing way.  Definitely my more light-hearted selection.

Okay – go forth and vote, Litwits!  Or comment to tell me my selections suck.