The Shortlist for Our June Book Club

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1book140_icon.JPG We've winnowed 1book140's 300-book nominations list down to five great novels. As I indicated last week, we imposed a few criteria to guide our choices, though that hardly made the choice any easier. Here are the five books on the 1book140 shortlist. Remember: Voting begins now and runs through noon Eastern on Thursday:

The Blind Assassin, by Margaret Atwood
Atwood's 10th novel won the 2000 Booker Prize and made Time's list of the 100 best books published since 1923. The story of two sisters and the literature they leave behind, the book is part pulp sci-fi, part Gothic romance, and part historical fiction. John Updike called it "brilliant" in the New Yorker. Atwood is also an avid tweeter.

The Keep, by Jennifer Egan
Two cousins reunite in a creepy castle. Hijinks—and Egan's literary pyrotechnics—ensue. In this 2006 novel Egan—who won the Pulitzer prize this year for A Visit From the Goon Squad—both satirizes and pays tribute to Gothic novels like the Wilkie Collins classic, The Woman in White. In an Atlantic review, Joseph O'Neill called it "a strange, clever, and always compelling meditation on the relationship between the imagination and the captivities (psychological, metaphysical, and even physical) of modern life."

Snow, by Orhan Pamuk
One of the most beloved books by the 2006 Nobel Prize winner, Snow grapples with the battle between secularism and fanaticism in Pamuk's native Turkey while describing the protagonist's visit to a small Turkish town in search of the woman he loved in his youth. The Times (London) called it "a novel of profound relevance to the present moment."

Super Sad True Love Story, by Gary Shteyngart
A satirical romance set in the near future that examines our relationship with technology and the future of American fiscal and foreign policy. Check out the James Franco-starring book trailer, plus this profile of Shteyngart by The Atlantic's Alexis Madrigal.

Apex Hides the Hurt, by Colson Whitehead
Whitehead's fourth novel, a satire about a "nomenclature expert" sent to a Midwest town that's deciding whether to change its name. Could lead to some great discussions about the culture of branding.  The Boston Globe called it "wickedly funny." Plus, Whitehead—a 2002 MacArthur "Genius"—is also on Twitter.

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Jeff Howe is a professor of journalism at Northeastern University in Boston and a former Nieman Fellow at Harvard. More

Jeff Howe is a professor of journalism at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts and a former Nieman Fellow at Harvard University. He previously worked as a contributing editor at Wired Magazine, where he covered the media and entertainment industries. In June 2006 he published "The Rise of Crowdsourcing" in Wired. In September 2008 he published a book on the subject for Random House. The book has been translated into 11 languages. Before coming to Wired in 2001 he was a senior editor at Inside.com and a writer at the Village Voice. In his 20 years as a journalist he has traveled around the world working on stories ranging from the impending water crisis in Central Asia to the implications of gene patenting. He has written for Time, U.S. News & World Report, The Washington Post, Mother Jones and numerous other publications. He lives in Cambridge with his wife and two children.

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