Bring in the Spring by checking out this list of great reads and try your best to pick your favorite three when you fill out the survey at the bottom.
Piranesi by Susanna Clarke
Piranesi’s house is no ordinary building: its rooms are infinite, its corridors endless, its walls are lined with thousands upon thousands of statues, each one different from all the others. Within the labyrinth of halls an ocean is imprisoned; waves thunder up staircases, rooms are flooded in an instant. But Piranesi is not afraid; he understands the tides as he understands the pattern of the labyrinth itself. He lives to explore the house.
There is one other person in the house―a man called The Other, who visits Piranesi twice a week and asks for help with research into A Great and Secret Knowledge. But as Piranesi explores, evidence emerges of another person, and a terrible truth begins to unravel, revealing a world beyond the one Piranesi has always known.
For readers of Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane and fans of Madeline Miller’s Circe, Piranesi introduces an astonishing new world, an infinite labyrinth, full of startling images and surreal beauty, haunted by the tides and the clouds.
In the First Circle by Alexsandr I. Solzhenitsyn
Moscow, Christmas Eve, 1949.The Soviet secret police intercept a call made to the American embassy by a Russian diplomat who promises to deliver secrets about the nascent Soviet Atomic Bomb program. On that same day, a brilliant mathematician is locked away inside a Moscow prison that houses the country's brightest minds. He and his fellow prisoners are charged with using their abilities to sleuth out the caller's identity, and they must choose whether to aid Joseph Stalin's repressive state—or refuse and accept transfer to the Siberian Gulag camps . . . and almost certain death.
First written between 1955 and 1958, In the First Circle is Solzhenitsyn's fiction masterpiece. In order to pass through Soviet censors, many essential scenes—including nine full chapters—were cut or altered before it was published in a hastily translated English edition in 1968. Now with the help of the author's most trusted translator, Harry T. Willetts, here for the first time is the complete, definitive English edition of Solzhenitsyn's powerful and magnificent classic.
The Razor’s Edge by W. Somerset Maugham
Larry Darrell is a young American in search of the absolute. The progress of this spiritual odyssey involves him with some of Maugham's most brillant characters - his fiancee Isabel, whose choice between love and wealth have lifelong repercussions, and Elliot Templeton, her uncle, a classic expatriate American snob. The most ambitious of Maugham's novels, this is also one in which Maugham himself plays a considerable part as he wanders in and out of the story, to observe his characters struggling with their fates.
All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy
All the Pretty Horses is the tale of John Grady Cole, who at sixteen finds himself at the end of a long line of Texas ranchers, cut off from the only life he has ever imagined for himself. With two companions, he sets off for Mexico on a sometimes idyllic, sometimes comic journey to a place where dreams are paid for in blood. Winner of the National Book Award for Fiction.
Embassytown by China Miéville
In the far future, humans have colonized a distant planet, home to the enigmatic Ariekei, sentient beings famed for a language unique in the universe, one that only a few altered human ambassadors can speak. Avice Benner Cho, a human colonist, has returned to Embassytown after years of deep-space adventure. She cannot speak the Ariekei tongue, but she is an indelible part of it, having long ago been made a figure of speech, a living simile in their language. When distant political machinations deliver a new ambassador to Arieka, the fragile equilibrium between humans and aliens is violently upset. Catastrophe looms, and Avice is torn between competing loyalties: to a husband she no longer loves, to a system she no longer trusts, and to her place in a language she cannot speak—but which speaks through her, whether she likes it or not.
My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite
Long-suffering Korede and her younger sister Ayoola live in Lagos, Nigeria, and they have each other's backs. That's especially handy for Ayoola, because she's developed a habit of killing her boyfriends – she's just polished off her third – and needs Korede to help clean up. They have a good system, but it can't last. My Sister, the Serial Killer moves like a thriller – pacy and punchy – but at the same time it's laced with buckets of dark comic energy.
Post recommendations for our 'Book of the Month' for April in the comments. Get them in by Saturday, March 20th at 2:00 pm MT so they may be included in the survey. The survey will be available at 3:00 pm
Here's a fun thing from Sean. Type in an author and this site generates an author map of authors most closely related or as they put it "The closer two writers are, the more likely someone will like both of them."
We did things a little differently this month, with a list of 10 books that were previously recommended and received substantial vote margins but did not win. Thanks to Andy for creating and managing the survey. The results are posted below. And the winner is ...
The Trial by Franz Kafka
The Trial is one of the most important novels of the twentieth century: the terrifying tale of Josef K., a respectable bank officer who is suddenly and inexplicably arrested and must defend himself against a charge about which he can get no information. Whether read as an existential tale, a parable, or a prophecy of the excesses of modern bureaucracy wedded to the madness of totalitarianism, Kafka's nightmare has resonated with chilling truth for generations of readers. This new edition is based upon the work of an international team of experts who have restored the text, the sequence of chapters, and their division to create a version that is as close as possible to the way the author left it.
A list of 10 books was ordered by preference from first to last with the top selection receiving 10 points and the bottom selection receiving 1 pt. With four voters, there was a tie between Kafka and Philip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? The Trial received a first place vote and this was used as the tie-breaker. The total points received are below in blue and the orange bars show the expected votes based on their initial ranking (based on how close the books came to winning in a previous month's vote. Since The History of The Future and The Invention of Sound were defeated in run-off votes after tying for first in their respective months they are each expected to get 40 votes, etc. Interestingly, these two books didn't do very well, and Prisoners of Geography did much better than expected by its last place initial ranking.