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Cover Image of Stalin's Daughter: The Extraordinary and Tumultuous Life of Svetlana Alliluyeva by Rosemary Sullivan published by HarperCollins Publishers
Cover Image of Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri published by Knopf
Cover Image of Three Junes by Julia Glass published by Anchor
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Summer Reading Ideas


As summer approaches, book groups are considering which meaty tombe—or long read they will tackle.  Some groups even opt to read an author's entire bibliography of works.  Others are happy with a selection from the classics or a new biography—books that take an extended time to plow thru. Here are a couple of ideas.


May 29, 2005

New Biography

American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer by Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin, published by Knopf. 2005

"The father of the atomic bomb was a unique polymath who can justifiably be credited with founding the foremost school of theoretical physics in America. Moreover, in contrast to many gifted mathematicians and physicists, Oppenheimer’s intellectual curiosity extended well beyond the limits of his chosen career. He was a prolific reader and loved the arts, especially poetry. He was also fascinated by mysticism and with his remarkable facility to acquire languages with astounding ease, he learned Sanskrit so that he could study the ancient Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad-Gita.

More than twenty years in the making, American Prometheus is probably the definitive work on the life of J. Robert Oppenheimer. It is extensively researched and draws from thousands of documentary records and personal interviews. And yet is is neither pedantic nor prosaic. It is an eminently readable, personal and engrossing account of the man, his journey and his times."  Full Review, BB Blog


This summer BookBuffet will be reading as many novels by William Faulkner as possible, (and that was before Oprah). We encourage you to pick an author and do the same.

Why Faulkner? Not just because he is one of America's greats, but also because so many of the authors we speak with and interview describe Faulkner as influential in their writing. Reading consecutive novels by the same author allows you to analyse style, subject matter, place and recurring themes. 

For an excellent list and details of Faulkner's works go to William Faulkner on the Web. Here is the list we're going to start with, as well a run through those films adapted from his works.

  • Soldier's Pay (1926) His first novel about coming to terms post WWI
  • The Sound and the Fury (1929) His forth and first masterpiece, some say his finest work; known to be his own favorite.
  • Sanctuary (1931) His most sensational novel because of the lurid story: A debutante takes a wrong turn and ends up in the grip of a sinister bootlegger.
  • Light in August (1932) A man believes himself to be half black. A significant novel for its depiction of community, race, gender and Calvinism.
  • A Fable (1954) This novel won him a Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. A complex story set in the trenches of France WWI dealing with a mutiny in a French regiment.
  • The Reivers (1952) His second to last novel also won a Pulitzer Prize. A comic story telling of three unlikely car theives from rural Mississippi.

Don't forget to get The Oxford Companion to Faulkner along with any of the above.



Celebrating Their Centenary


Who was H.E. Bates? Born 1905 and died at the age of sixty-nine, Herbert Ernest Bates has been described by Graham Greene as Britain's successor to Chekov. He was a prolific writer whose over 50 works of fiction, mostly set in the midlands of England, that also range from the comic work adapted for BBC TV series that Catherine Zeta Jones her first notariety, The Darling Buds of May,(Samual French 1996) to stories set in India during his own term of service on the Eastern theatre of war: The Purple Plain; The Jacaranda Tree,(Audio version); The Scarlet Sword.

My Uncle Silas was made into a BBC Masterpiece film starring Albert Finny and his most famous work is Fair Stood the Wind for France.

He was awarded the C.B.E. in 1973 and died January 1974 leaving his wife and four children. He did write An Autobiography. See the Penguin pages for a full bio/bibliography

Jean-Paul Sartre 1905-1980 French novelist, playwright, existentialist philosopher and critic, whose famous quote, "Hell is other people," set the tone for literature and thinking post WWII.  Sartre believed that we define ourselves by the instant; we choose who we are to be continuously in time. He won the Nobel prize for literature in 1964. He was famously linked with Simone de Beauvoir and Albert Camus.

Nausea "Antoine Roquentin is a solitary man, recently afflicted with a recurrent feeling, one that he terms 'the Nausea'. At times, he feels that life is repugnant, a vapid, shallow game between mindless people who have no real idea of their own purpose or consequence, himself included. At first he dismisses these feelings as the typical lonely thoughts of an ageing academic who is unable to complete the book he has been researching for years, but as the feeling continues and he is able to examine himself with greater and greater clarity, Roquentin begins to learn that maybe he has stumbled upon one of the great truths of our reality."

Drop us a line with your prospective Summer Reading Selections!



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