Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Book Club Favorites

The book club that I belong to has been meeting for more than twenty years, although I have not been a member nearly that long. We recently had a discussion about the member favorite book club picks and I thought I'd share them below. 

Niccolo Rising by Dorothy Dunnett

With the bravura storytelling and pungent authenticity of detail she brought to her acclaimed Lymond Chronicles, Dorothy Dunnett, grande dame of the historical novel, presents The House of Niccolò series. The time is the 15th century, when intrepid merchants became the new knighthood of Europe. Among them, none is bolder or more cunning than Nicholas vander Poele of Bruges, the good-natured dyer's apprentice who schemes and swashbuckles his way to the helm of a mercantile empire.

     Niccolò Rising, Book One of the series, finds us in Bruges, 1460. Jousting is the genteel pastime, and successful merchants are, of necessity, polyglot. Street smart, brilliant at figures, adept at the subtleties of diplomacy and the well-timed untruth, Dunnett's hero rises from wastrel to prodigy in a breathless adventure that wins him the hand of the strongest woman in Bruges and the hatred of two powerful enemies. From a riotous and potentially murderous carnival in Flanders, to an avalanche in the Alps and a pitched battle on the outskirts of Naples, Niccolò Rising combines history, adventure, and high romance in the tradition stretching from Alexandre Dumas to Mary Renault.

Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

The Shadow of the Wind is a coming-of-age tale of a young boy who, through the magic of a single book, finds a purpose greater than himself and a hero in a man he's never met. With the passion of García Márquez, the irony of Dickens, and the necromancy of Poe, Carlos Ruiz Zafón spins a web of intrigue so thick that it ensnares the reader from the very first line. The Shadow of the Wind is an ode to the art of reading, but it is also the perfect example of the all-encompassing power of a well-told story.
At the first light of dawn in postwar Barcelona, a bookseller leads his motherless son to a mysterious crypt called the Cemetery of Forgotten Books. This labyrinthine sanctuary houses the books that have lost their owners, books that are no longer remembered by anyone. It is here that ten-year-old Daniel Sempere pulls a single book—The Shadow of the Wind—off of the dusty shelves to adopt as his own. With one fateful turn of a page, he begins an adventure that will unravel another man's tragedy and solve a mystery that has already taken many lives and will shape his entire future.
When Daniel speaks with Gustavo Barceló, a local booktrader, to find out more about his new treasure, word begins to spread that he has uncovered a long-sought rarity, perhaps the only copy of any of Julián Carax's works in existence. Soon after, a mysterious stranger whom Daniel recognizes as Laín Coubert, the leather-masked, cigarette-smoking devil from Carax's novel, propositions Daniel, offering to buy the book from him for an astronomical price. Daniel refuses, in spite of the man's thinly veiled threats. With the help of his bookselling friends, Daniel discovers that Laín Coubert has cut a swath of destruction through two countries, methodically searching for and destroying all of Carax's books while erasing every trace of Carax's life.

The Last Cato by Matilde Asensi

A masterful blend of Christian scholarship and thrilling adventure, The Last Cato is a novel about the race to find the secret location of the Vera Cruz, the True Cross on which Christ was crucified, and the ancient brotherhood sworn to protect it.
Holy relics are disappearing from sacred spots around the world—and the Vatican will do whatever it takes to stop the thieves from stealing what is left of the scattered splinters of the True Cross.
Brilliant paleographer Dr. Ottavia Salina is called upon by the highest levels of the Roman Catholic Church to decipher the scars found on an Ethiopian man's corpse: seven crosses and seven Greek letters.
The markings, symbolizing the Seven Deadly Sins, are part of an elaborate initiation ritual for the Staurofilakes, the clandestine brotherhood hiding the True Cross for centuries, headed by a secretive figure called Cato.
With the help of a member of the Swiss Guard and a renowned archaeologist, Dr. Salina uncovers the connection between the brotherhood and Dante's Divine Comedy, and races across the globe to Christianity's ancient capitals. Together, they will face challenges that will put their faith—and their very lives—to the ultimate test. 

Possession by A.S. Byatt

Winner of England’s Booker Prize and the literary sensation of the year, Possession is an exhilarating novel of wit and romance, at once an intellectual mystery and triumphant love story. It is the tale of a pair of young scholars researching the lives of two Victorian poets. As they uncover their letters, journals, and poems, and track their movements from London to Yorkshire—from spiritualist séances to the fairy-haunted far west of Brittany—what emerges is an extraordinary counterpoint of passions and ideas. 

An exhilarating novel of wit and romance, an intellectual mystery, and a triumphant love story. This tale of a pair of young scholars researching the lives of two Victorian poets became a huge bookseller favorite, and then on to national bestellerdom.

I would love to hear about your book club's favorite tomes.

1 comment:

  1. I've never been in a book club. I should see if there's a mystery one at my local library.