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Literary Giants Book Club

Literary Giants: Unbroken

Date: 
Monday, November 25, 2013 - 6:30pm to 7:30pm
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ISBN: 
9781400064168
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Author: 
Laura Hillenbrand
Title: 
Unbroken

On a May afternoon in 1943, an Army Air Forces bomber crashed into the Pacific Ocean and disappeared, leaving only a spray of debris and a slick of oil, gasoline, and blood. Then, on the ocean surface, a face appeared. It was that of a young lieutenant, the plane's bombardier, who was struggling to a life raft and pulling himself aboard. So began one of the most extraordinary odysseys of the Second World War. The lieutenant's name was Louis Zamperini. In boyhood, he'd been a cunning and incorrigible delinquent, breaking into houses, brawling, and fleeing his home to ride the rails. As a teenager, he had channeled his defiance into running, discovering a prodigious talent that had carried him to the Berlin Olympics and within sight of the four-minute mile. But when war had come, the athlete had become an airman, embarking on a journey that led to his doomed flight, a tiny raft, and a drift into the unknown. Ahead of Zamperini lay thousands of miles of open ocean, leaping sharks, a foundering raft, thirst and starvation, enemy aircraft, and, beyond, a trial even greater. Driven to the limits of endurance, Zamperini would answer desperation with ingenuity; suffering with hope, resolve, and hum∨ brutality with rebellion. His fate, whether triumph or tragedy, would be suspended on the fraying wire of his will. In her long-awaited new book, Laura Hillenbrand writes with the same rich and vivid narrative voice she displayed in Seabiscuit . Telling an unforgettable story of a man's journey into extremity, Unbroken is a testament to the resilience of the human mind, body, and spirit. Read more about Literary Giants: Unbroken

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Literary Giants: Great House

Date: 
Monday, September 30, 2013 - 6:30pm to 7:30pm
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ISBN: 
9780393340648
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Author: 
Nicole Krauss
Title: 
Great House

For twenty-five years, a reclusive American novelist has been writing at the desk she inherited from a young Chilean poet who disappeared at the hands of Pinochet's secret police; one day a girl claiming to be the poet's daughter arrives to take it away, sending the writer's life reeling. Across the ocean, in the leafy suburbs of London, a man caring for his dying wife discovers, among her papers, a lock of hair that unravels a terrible secret. In Jerusalem, an antiques dealer slowly reassembles his father's study, plundered by the Nazis in Budapest in 1944. Connecting these stories is a desk of many drawers that exerts a power over those who possess it or have given it away. As the narrators of Great House make their confessions, the desk takes on more and more meaning, and comes finally to stand for all that has been taken from them, and all that binds them to what has disappeared. Great House is a story haunted by questions: What do we pass on to our children and how do they absorb our dreams and losses? How do we respond to disappearance, destruction, and change? Nicole Krauss has written a soaring, powerful novel about memory struggling to create a meaningful permanence in the face of inevitable loss. "This is a novel about the long journey of a magnificent desk as it travels through the twentieth century from one owner to the next. It is also a novel about love, exile, the defilements of war, and the restorative power of language."-National Book Award citation Read more about Literary Giants: Great House

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Literary Giants: Reading Lolita in Tehran

Date: 
Monday, August 26, 2013 - 6:30pm to 7:30pm
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ISBN: 
9780375504907
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Author: 
Azar Nafisi
Title: 
Reading Lolita in Tehran

We all have dreams--things we fantasize about doing and generally never get around to. This is the story of Azar Nafisi's dream and of the nightmare that made it come true. For two years before she left Iran in 1997, Nafisi gathered seven young women at her house every Thursday morning to read and discuss forbidden works of Western literature. They were all former students whom she had taught at university. Some came from conservative and religious families, others were progressive and secular; several had spent time in jail. They were shy and uncomfortable at first, unaccustomed to being asked to speak their minds, but soon they began to open up and to speak more freely, not only about the novels they were reading but also about themselves, their dreams and disappointments. Their stories intertwined with those they were reading--Pride and Prejudice, Washington Square, Daisy Miller and Lolita--their Lolita, as they imagined her in Tehran. Nafisi's account flashes back to the early days of the revolution, when she first started teaching at the University of Tehran amid the swirl of protests and demonstrations. In those frenetic days, the students took control of the university, expelled faculty members and purged the curriculum. When a radical Islamist in Nafisi's class questioned her decision to teach The Great Gatsby, which he saw as an immoral work that preached falsehoods of "the Great Satan," she decided to let him put Gatsby on trial and stood as the sole witness for the defense. Azar Nafisi's luminous tale offers a fascinating portrait of the Iran-Iraq war viewed from Tehran and gives us a rare glimpse, from the inside, of women's lives in revolutionary Iran. It is a work of great passion and poetic beauty, written with a startlingly original voice. Read more about Literary Giants: Reading Lolita in Tehran

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Literary Giants: Midnight's Children

Date: 
Monday, July 29, 2013 - 6:30pm to 7:30pm
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ISBN: 
9780812976533
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Author: 
Salman Rushdie
Title: 
Midnight's Children

The life of a man born at the moment of India's independence becomes inextricably linked to that of his nation and is a whirlwind of disasters and triumphs that mirror modern India's course, in a twenty-fifth anniversary edition of the Booker Prize-winning novel. Read more about Literary Giants: Midnight's Children

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Literary Giants: Gone With the Wind

Date: 
Monday, June 24, 2013 - 6:30pm to 7:30pm
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ISBN: 
9781451635621
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Author: 
Margaret Mitchell
Title: 
Gone With the Wind

After the Civil War sweeps away the genteel life to which she has been accustomed, Scarlett O'Hara sets about to salvage her plantation home. Read more about Literary Giants: Gone With the Wind

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Literary Giants: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

Date: 
Monday, April 29, 2013 - 6:30pm to 7:30pm
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ISBN: 
9781870418041
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Author: 
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Title: 
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Holmes is the mastermind detective of the ages. Here, in one volume, are three of Sherlock's most celebrated cases -The Red Headed League, The Copper Beeches, The Speckled Band. Read more about Literary Giants: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

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Literary Giants: The Night Circus

Date: 
Monday, March 25, 2013 - 6:30pm to 7:30pm
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ISBN: 
9780307744432
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Author: 
Erin Morgenstern
Title: 
The Night Circus

A fierce competition is underway--a duel between two young circus magicians who have been trained since childhood for this purpose. This is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Read more about Literary Giants: The Night Circus

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Literary Giants: The Swerve

Date: 
Monday, February 25, 2013 - 6:30pm to 7:30pm
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ISBN: 
9780393343403
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Author: 
Stephen Greenblatt
Title: 
The Swerve

Winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Non-Fiction Winner of the 2011 National Book Award for Non-Fiction One of the world's most celebrated scholars, Stephen Greenblatt has crafted both an innovative work of history and a thrilling story of discovery, in which one manuscript, plucked from a thousand years of neglect, changed the course of human thought and made possible the world as we know it. Nearly six hundred years ago, a short, genial, cannily alert man in his late thirties took a very old manuscript off a library shelf, saw with excitement what he had discovered, and ordered that it be copied. That book was the last surviving manuscript of an ancient Roman philosophical epic, On the Nature of Things , by Lucretius-a beautiful poem of the most dangerous ideas: that the universe functioned without the aid of gods, that religious fear was damaging to human life, and that matter was made up of very small particles in eternal motion, colliding and swerving in new directions. The copying and translation of this ancient book-the greatest discovery of the greatest book-hunter of his age-fueled the Renaissance, inspiring artists such as Botticelli and thinkers such as Giordano Bruno; shaped the thought of Galileo and Freud, Darwin and Einstein; and had a revolutionary influence on writers such as Montaigne and Shakespeare and even Thomas Jefferson. Read more about Literary Giants: The Swerve

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Literary Giants: The Forgotten Garden

Date: 
Monday, January 28, 2013 - 6:30pm to 7:30pm
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ISBN: 
9781416550549
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Author: 
Kate Morton
Title: 
The Forgotten Garden

In 1913 London, a little girl plays hide-and-seek on the deck of a ship while waiting for the woman who left her there to return. But as darkness comes, the girl is still alone when the ship pulls out from the dock and steams away on a long, grueling journey to Australia. There, the dock master and his wife take in the small castaway who is carrying nothing but a child's white suitcase containing a few clothes and a book of fairytales. They name her Nell and raise her as their own. It's not until her twenty-first birthday that they tell her the truth. Nell returns to England in search of her identity and that of the mysterious woman who abandoned her. Her quest is not fulfilled until after her death, when her granddaughter, Cassandra, travels to a cottage on the cliffs of Cornwall and discovers the secrets of its forgotten garden. A tale of outer and inner journeys, and an homage to the power of storytelling,The Forgotten Gardenis filled with remarkable characters who weave their way through its intricate plot to astounding effect. Read more about Literary Giants: The Forgotten Garden

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Literary Giants: The Emperor of All Maladies

Date: 
Monday, November 26, 2012 - 6:30pm to 7:30pm
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ISBN: 
9781439107959
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Author: 
Siddhartha Mukherjee
Title: 
The Emperor of All Maladies

The Emperor of All Maladies is a magnificent, profoundly humane "biography" of cancer--from its first documented appearances thousands of years ago through the epic battles in the twentieth century to cure, control, and conquer it to a radical new understanding of its essence. Physician, researcher, and award-winning science writer, Siddhartha Mukherjee examines cancer with a cellular biologist's precision, a historian's perspective, and a biographer's passion. The result is an astonishingly lucid and eloquent chronicle of a disease humans have lived with--and perished from--for more than five thousand years. The story of cancer is a story of human ingenuity, resilience, and perseverance, but also of hubris, paternalism, and misperception. Mukherjee recounts centuries of discoveries, setbacks, victories, and deaths, told through the eyes of his predecessors and peers, training their wits against an infinitely resourceful adversary that, just three decades ago, was thought to be easily vanquished in an all-out "war against cancer." The book reads like a literary thriller with cancer as the protagonist. From the Persian Queen Atossa, whose Greek slave cut off her malignant breast, to the nineteenth-century recipients of primitive radiation and chemotherapy to Mukherjee's own leukemia patient, Carla, The Emperor of All Maladies is about the people who have soldiered through fiercely demanding regimens in order to survive--and to increase our understanding of this iconic disease. Riveting, urgent, and surprising, The Emperor of All Maladies provides a fascinating glimpse into the future of cancer treatments. It is an illuminating book that provides hope and clarity to those seeking to demystify cancer. Read more about Literary Giants: The Emperor of All Maladies

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