Vote for ten books you want to read (or reread) from the year in which the Concord made it’s maiden flight, the Beatles disbanded, and Apollo 13 aborted its mission to the moon.
Last year we launched our first book club, reading 10 books first published in 1969. This year we’re moving on by announcing the 1970 Book Club. Fifty years ago, Richard Nixon was in power, the Beatles were over, and the Nobel Prize for Literature was awarded to Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, the dissident writer who helped expose the Gulag labor camps. One year after Neil Armstrong’s “small step for mankind,” it was “Houston, we have a problem.” What, if anything, do the books of that year reveal about the concerns of the time, and how do they speak to us today? The year was ablaze with brilliant, groundbreaking works by Joan Didion, Milan Kundera, Toni Morrison, and Saul Bellow, as well as a Nordic Noir classic by Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo. What’s more, all of these titles have all had five decades to demonstrate their longevity and worth. Which ten of 20 selected titles do you want to read in 2020.
The famous opening line of Slaughterhouse-Five, is a tease of a sentence. Is Vonnegut giving us a memoir, or fiction? Or is he challenging the very nature of memoir? Who says that fiction is any less true than non-fiction? In an era when memoirs are frequently unmasked as fiction, why do we even bother with the distinction? To quote Oscar Wilde in his essay, The Decay of Lying, “There is such a thing as robbing a story of its reality by trying to make it too true.” Read More Wheels Within Wheels: Revisiting Slaughterhouse-Five
We invited you to help us whittle 20 books published in 1969 down to ten, and we’re now ready to kick off One Grand’s 1969 Book Club. We’re giving readers a month to read our first choice of the year, Kurt Vonnegut’s “famous Dresden book,” as he wryly refers to Slaughterhouse-Five in his introduction. A book that is simultaneously fiction and memoir, and which hops around in time, the New York Times urged that the introduction be read aloud to “children, cadets and basic trainees.” It was the first of Vonnegut’s to become a bestseller, but lost the Hugo Award that year to Ursula LeGuin’s The Left Hand of Darkness, which we’ll be reading later this year.
Graham Greene leads the nominations. Margaret Atwood is running close.
With almost 150 votes cast, the line-up for the 1969 Book Club is shaping up to be a perfect gender balance with books by men, and five books by women. Iconic 1969 novels, Portnoy’s Complaint, Slaughterhouse Five, and The Left-Hand of Darkness are all polling well, as is Maya Angelou’s vivid memoir, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. Rounding out the list is Daphne DuMaurier’s gothic time-traveling novel, The House on the Strand, just pushing out John Cheever’s Bullet Park. It’s not too late to vote – the poll can be found here, but here’s the current state of play.
Vote for ten books you want to read (or reread) from the year of Woodstock, Stonewall and Nixon’s inauguration – and join us on a literary journey.
One Grand Books is launching its first book club, and we’re inviting you to join us—whether local or long-distance readers. In the 50th anniversary of Woodstock, Stonewall, and Neil Armstrong’s “small step for mankind,” the 1969 Book Club will look at novels published in that momentous year – which began with the inauguration of Richard Nixon. What, if anything, do they reveal about the concerns of the age, and how do they speak to us today? In literary terms, it was an extraordinary year, with groundbreaking novels by Philip Roth, Ursula LeGuin, and Kurt Vonnegut, as well as some enduring bestsellers, among them Mario Puzzo’s The Godfather and Michael Crichton’s The Andromeda Strain. It was also a year in which second wave feminism made its influence clear in novels by Margaret Atwood and Iris Murdoch, among others, and when the singular talent of Maya Angelou was announced with the publication of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. What’s more, all of these titles have all had five decades to demonstrate their longevity and worth.