In light of the robust conversation happening over at #1book140 about commenting, voting, and community (and also limiting monthly suggestions to five options—point taken!), May’s vote is going to be a bit of a grab bag of military fiction, books with maternal themes, books suggested ironically, and books that people just felt like reading.
Please cast your vote by 12 p.m. this Friday, and join us in reading one of the following:
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
Full points to @twindy5, who nominated Anthony Doerr’s novel before Monday’s announcement that it won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. The jury called the story of a blind French girl and a German boy “an imaginative and intricate novel inspired by the horrors of World War II and written in short, elegant chapters that explore human nature and the contradictory power of technology.”
Crabwalk by Gunter Grass
In tribute to the Nobel prize-winning author Günter Grass, who died earlier this month, we’re including Crabwalk, one of his more recent novels. The book centers around the deadliest maritime disaster ever recorded—the sinking of a German refugee ship by the Soviets in 1945—and the ramifications for the Pokriefke family. As The New York Times Book Review wrote, “In his best book in a long while, Günter Grass once again dazzlingly analyzes Germany’s past and present, while hinting soberly at its future.”
The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
Gretchen Rubin’s “experiments in the pursuit of happiness and good habits” may be a bit of an odd book out this month but it might also prove to be a pleasant respite from the darker themes emerging on this list. Subtitled “Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun,” The Happiness Project provides practical advice with Rubin’s humorous journey.
The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera
A dedicated reader might have suggested Kundera’s masterpiece ironically in a different #1book140 thread but it seemed liked a great addition to this month’s somewhat Euro-centric list. If you haven’t yet read The Unbearable Lightness of Being, now’s your chance to experience this work “of high modernist playfulness and deep pathos" (New York Review of Books) that's “of the boldest mastery, originality, and richness” (Vanity Fair).
Waiting for the Barbarians by J. M. Coetzee
The Nobel laureate J.M. Coetzee sets his well-loved 1980 novella in a small border outpost in “the Empire.” Narrated by an aging, unnamed Magistrate whose comfortable existence unravels when interrogation experts and their captives arrive, Barbarians challenges our not only the reader's complacency but also our complicity in unjust regimes.
In addition to voting this week, we’re hosting a Twitter chat with Srdja Popovic, the author of Blueprint for Revolution: How to Use Rice Pudding, Lego Men, and Other Nonviolent Techniques to Galvanize Communities, Overthrow Dictators, or Simply Change the World, one of the runners up in our March vote. He’ll be replying to tweets throughout the week—just use #1book140 and tag @SrdjaPopovic when you pose your questions.