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There is always a beginning - the First Challenge - Jan/Feb 2012

Club Read 2012

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Dec 31, 2011, 7:02pm Top

Everything has a start.

So let's start the year with a book either written or published or involving the year when you are born (and for the people that do not want to reveal their age, pick another start point - getting married, getting divorced, having a child, starting work career, whatever).

Fiction, non-fiction, poetry - anything counts.

Welcome to the challenges of 2012 :) Happy reading this year!

Note: This is the challenge for the first 2 months - so people have time to find books and read them. Does not mean that there won't be mini-challenges through the year together with the 6 main ones. :)

Dec 31, 2011, 7:22pm Top

Interesting idea, AnnieMod! Any thoughts on how to do this efficiently? For example, can one find the most popular books on LT published in a specific year?


Edited: Dec 31, 2011, 7:31pm Top

Now you got me... :)

It is probably possible to pull a list of books from a year (when it is specified) but it will not be sorted.
When I am looking for books from a specific year, I would check the nominations and awards in the next year - most of the good books surface there. Or the bestseller's lists for the year - although these tend to show books that are now forgotten.

I am going the awards route - will be checking the awards I am keeping an eye on anyway. And if I happen to stumble upon a book written in 1981 while looking for something else, that would do as well...

PS: And if someone decides to mention their year, I suspect a lot of people around here will help :)

Dec 31, 2011, 7:34pm Top

you can google "books published in xxxx"

Dec 31, 2011, 7:36pm Top

Or ask good old wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:1981_books for 1981 for example.

Dec 31, 2011, 8:19pm Top

Huh. Somewhat to my surprise, I don't seem to have any books from my birth year (1971) on my TBR pile. It skips right from 1969 to 1972.

Edited: Dec 31, 2011, 9:04pm Top

Ooh convenient! One of my categories for the 12 in 12 challenge is to read books from the year I was born, 1978. I found a great list on goodreads (sorry LT!). These are the books I'm considering. I'm not sure what I'll start with.

The Stand by Stephen King
The World According to Garp by John Irving
The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin
War and Remembrance by Herman Wouk
The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera
The Virgin in the Garden by A. S. Byatt
The Beggar Maid by Alice Munro

Edited: Dec 31, 2011, 8:34pm Top

>6 bragan:

If you read SF: To Your Scattered Bodies Go
If you read Horror: The Exorcist
For example :)

If you do not read either, I can come up with other recommendations ( if you mentioned what type)

>7 japaul22:

Well - I suppose it was bound to happen:)
PS: Both Kundera's and King's books are amongst my favorites.

Edited: Dec 31, 2011, 9:04pm Top

Well, I guess I'll have to go for The Bonfire of the Vanities, which I own, but haven't read.

Edit to add that I have read two books published in '87:

Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett
The Eyes of the Dragon by Stephen King

Dec 31, 2011, 10:11pm Top

Clearly I am older than all you folks. Maybe I will have to go back to parchment-printed books to find some from the year I was born.

Dec 31, 2011, 10:21pm Top

Great idea! I own two books that were published in 1961 that are high on my wish list:

The Wretched of the Earth by Frantz Fanon
Resistance, Rebellion and Death by Albert Camus

Dec 31, 2011, 11:14pm Top

>8 AnnieMod:: Hang on, I do have a copy of To Your Scattered Bodies Go on the TBR pile! Aha! I see what happened. The edition I have is 1978, but the original publication year is, indeed, 1971. Well, that's me sorted out, then. Thank you!

Edited: Jan 1, 2012, 12:54am Top

OK, I only read on my kindle now and I am old enough that I can't find many books from my birth date that are available for the kindle. Here's one: The Sibyl by Par Lagerkvist. Apparently he is a Nobel Prize winning author, so perhaps this will be a mind-expanding experience for me.

Jan 1, 2012, 1:31am Top

I just read The Sibyl about a month ago. I wasn't sure exactly what to think. It wasn't bad...I'd just be interested in hearing someone else's perspective. I understand it's not "THE" book by Lagerkvist, but I haven't read that one yet (Barrabas).

Now to find a book from '68...

Jan 1, 2012, 2:56am Top

>10 krazy4katz:

It is called mature, not old. :)

>12 bragan:

I did not even check your books - just threw the titles I knew to be from this year off the top of my head (how do you spell numbers geek?)

Jan 1, 2012, 3:26am Top

>15 AnnieMod: That was a pretty impressive off-the-top-of-your-head suggestion. :)

Jan 1, 2012, 3:33am Top

>16 bragan:

Long time ago, the only SF and fantasy and horror I could read was whatever was getting translated. And that was not much - when they were able to do more than a few books per year, they started with the award winning ones. And because of the low number, I could tell you which ones had been translated, what awards they won and in which years. :) Besides - I liked the book (although I think they never got around to translate book #5 (not sure on book #4 - publishing had picked up at one point so I was missing titles)).

The other idea explanation is more prosaic -- I looked it up a week ago for something.

Jan 1, 2012, 8:09pm Top

I remember there was a TIOLI challenge a while back to read a book which took place in the year of your birth and I completely failed to read The Emperor by Ryszard Kapuściński (about the fall of Haile Selassie, 1974), so I will have another go at that for this challenge...

Jan 1, 2012, 9:43pm Top

I have three unread books from 1951:

The End of the Affair by Graham Greene
The Hive by Camilo José Cela
The Rebel by Albert Camus

Since my reading calendar is already pretty full, I'll probably go with the shortest one, which is The End of the Affair.

Edited: Jan 1, 2012, 11:44pm Top

The LibraryThing group Bestsellers Over the Years could be a convenient starting point in looking for a book published in the year of one's birth.

I'm looking for something, instead, that involves 1944. Does anybody have any suggestions?


Jan 1, 2012, 11:54pm Top

Fiction or non-fiction?

If you enjoy history, a lot happened in 1944 (the last days of WWII for a lot of the countries), the reelection of FDR, the Harvard Mark I (although any book that is about it will span a few years I suspect)

On the fiction side:
Nemesis by Phillip Roth is set in 1944 and does not concern the war (directly anyway).
Levi's If This Is a Man is mainly 1944.
Bukowski's Factotum and Chabon's The Final Solution are also set in 1944

Had read the first 3 (Factotum is probably my least favorite of them) and I have the Chabon on my to-read list - pretty high on it.

Jan 2, 2012, 12:21am Top

Thank you. I was born on the date that MacArthur returned to the Philippines, so World War II history has occurred to me. I think I might prefer something that tells me more about the times, a novel, and then one that was set in America. I will look more closely at your suggestions.


Jan 2, 2012, 12:25am Top

The biggest problem with the war years is that pretty much everything had been about the war - one way or another. Good luck in finding something interesting to read :)

Jan 2, 2012, 12:28am Top

I just added the Bukowski to my wishlist, but I'm not quite ready to commit.


Jan 2, 2012, 12:38am Top

>20 Mr.Durick: Hey Cool! Thanks for that link, Robert!
Maybe I should read Peyton Place instead of The Sibyl. Decisions... decisions...

Edited: Jan 2, 2012, 12:47am Top

Check some reviews I guess - it is one one of his best (at least for me)... but then it is not a bad book.

Have fun:)

On my own reading: fiction written in 1981 is easy (and I will post any that I manage to read). Looking for non-fiction about 1981 turned out a bit more problematic. One of the obvious choices would be about the coup-d-etat in Spain but I already read The Anatomy of a Moment last year. Still looking for another book in English about that - and not being very successful for the last few months. The other big thing I can find is the second hunger strike in Ireland (and the 10 deaths that came out of it). It's also the year AIDS was officially recognized but books about it necessarily span a few years.

Anyone with any other ideas about 1981? (books recommendations or just general events - I can find some books I suspect if I know what I am looking for).

PS: And fiction set in 1981 works as well. :)

Jan 2, 2012, 12:45am Top

AnnieMod, I hate to advertise the competition, but... Goodreads has threads on popular books, which is where I found my 1956 one.
Here is the thread for 1981: http://www.goodreads.com/book/popular_by_date/1981


Jan 2, 2012, 12:46am Top

Oh, I found this. I am not on GR but I am using some of their lists :) But that is for books published in that year - which I can find enough for. :)

I need books set in 1981 :)

Jan 2, 2012, 12:51am Top

Sorry about that. You're right. That will be more difficult. The only thing I can think of is Ronald Reagan became president that year so there was the freeing of the American hostages from Iran and a whole lot of "evil empire" stuff.

Good luck,


Jan 2, 2012, 1:01am Top

Naah - thanks for trying -- really appreciated :)

OK - that is a start - let me see what I can find.

Jan 2, 2012, 1:11am Top

I googled 1981 for hints and didn't see anything I thought worth reporting.


Jan 2, 2012, 1:32am Top

Thank you k4k. Goodreads has led me to Rex Stout's Prisoner's Base, a Nero Wolfe mystery published in 1952. I've already downloaded it onto the Kindle.

Jan 2, 2012, 2:41pm Top

Well, I was born in 1963, as as much as I'd like to read 11/22/63, I am going to be firm and stick to my TBR pile. Which leaves me:

The Girls of Slender Means, Cat's Cradle, The Collector, and The Sailor who Fell from Grace with the Sea. Since the Muriel Spark is already hovering near the top of Mnt TBR, I will likely read it at some time over the next month.

Jan 2, 2012, 3:46pm Top

To find a list of books published in a particular year, try searching LT’s Common Knowledge:

Click on the Common Knowledge link at the center-bottom of any LT page. Then toward the upper-right, enter the desired year in the search box, select “Original publication date” from the drop-down menu, and click Search.

Becomes addictive when you see all the possible search options.

**off to search**

Jan 2, 2012, 3:54pm Top

Wow, detailmuse! That is an awesome feature that I've never known was there. Thanks for pointing it out!

Jan 2, 2012, 3:55pm Top

I love this. Thanks, detailmuse.

Jan 3, 2012, 12:10pm Top

My pleasure. I've decided on Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury.

Jan 5, 2012, 4:32am Top

I was born in 1992, so I'll most likely be reading The Silver Kiss, by Annette Curtis Klause, for this challenge. If I can find a copy, I might read Donna Tartt's The Secret History instead, though.

Edited: Jan 5, 2012, 3:47pm Top

I took a look at 1953 from the group you recommended -- oh fer cryin' out loud. I actually read many of those books when I was in high school and would not go back to them. But now I am intrigued by the challenge of finding books by publication date.

Back after a search:

OK, there are advantages to working in a university library for searches like this. I went to WorldCat, and searched fiction in 1953 and came up Saul Bellow's The Adventures of Augie March, Cress Delahanty by Jessamyn West, a novel by Rumer Godden and the Lying Days by Nadine Gordimer. I don't think I will be joining the challenge, but it turns out to be an interesting question.

Edited: Jan 6, 2012, 4:33pm Top

My current reading is very full, not sure I want to add to it, but this was fun:

Books on my TBR from 1973:
Celebrate the Sun by James J. Kavanaugh - nice because it's very short
Germany and the Approach of War in 1914 by Volker Rolf Berghahn - no interest in this just now
A History of the Jewish Experience byLeo Trepp - in my theme, but it is a bit dated. Still, this might be the book to try.

Overwhelmed if I look for books published in 1973. Here are some:
The Princess Bride by William Goldman (read this)
Breakfast of Champions Breakfast of Champions by by Kurt Vonnegut
A Wind in the Door by Madeleine L'Engle (I'll wait till my daughter might read it with me)
Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon (prob not ready for this)
Sula by Toni Morrison (??)
Life is Elsewhere by Milan Kundera (??)
Awakenings by Oliver Sacks (though I owned this, ??)
Burr by Gore Vidal (??)
The Siege of Krishnapur by J.G. Farrell - I'm very interested, but it's the second in a series. And, probably not ready for this right now
South of No North by Charles Bukowski (??)
The Black Prince by Iris Murdoch (??)
The Pleasure of the Text by Roland Barthes (??)
The Honorary Consul by Graham Greene (??)
Great Jones Street by Don DeLillo (??)

Events in 1973
Roe V Wade
End of Vietnam war
OPEC embargo
World Trade Center completed
Yom Kippur War
Pinoche coup in Chile
Secratariat's triple crown
Endangered Species Act
A major flood on Mississippi

Jan 6, 2012, 3:57pm Top

dchaikin, The Siege of Krishnapur stands alone. The three books in the series are linked by the theme of Empire and are set in strife-stricken Brirish colonies, but they share no characters or story lines.

It's a thought-provoking read, but not at all heavy. J.G Farrell is a wonderful writer.

Jan 7, 2012, 4:20pm Top

Anyone have a suggestion for a novel that deals with family dynamics set in 1967?

Jan 16, 2012, 9:42pm Top

I've finished my selection for this challenge: The End of the Affair by Graham Greene, first published in 1951. I've read several books by Greene, and I would have to rank this one the lowest of the lot, even though it's still a pretty good novel. It's actually set in England during and immediately after World War II, so there's not a strong tie to 1951 other than the rather dreary and noirish atmosphere that was popular at the time.

Jan 19, 2012, 8:56pm Top

I just got back from the library with The Stories of John Cheever, which was published in my birth year of 1978. I will probably start it later tonight.

Jan 20, 2012, 8:44am Top

fuzzy_patters - I'll be interested to hear how you like The Stories of John Cheever. I was also born in 1978 and am participating in the 12 in 12 challenge where one of my categories is "books published in the year of my birth". The Stories of John Cheever is on my list of possibilities for that category.

I read The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera for this challenge. It was my first attempt at reading Kundera and I can't say I loved it. This book is a collection of loosely related short stories with the author's voice constantly inserted as he muses on politics and philosophy. I did think that some of the writing was beautiful and he brought up some very interesting thoughts about memory, but overall I just couldn't get on board with it. It was very confusing to read something in between fiction and the author's thoughts and I never got in a rhythm with it. However, I've gotten some good suggestions of alternate works by Kundera to try and would like to give this author another try at some point.

Great first challenge AnnieMod!

Jan 24, 2012, 10:39am Top

Done! I read Girls of Slender Means, by Muriel Spark, which was published in 1963.

Jan 24, 2012, 11:52am Top

Wow, I completely missed this thread until today! Thanks for a great idea!

Off to look for 1953 books . . .

Edited: Jan 26, 2012, 4:10pm Top

I have read Factotum by Charles Bukowski set towards the end of World War II, thus much of it in 1944, the year of my birth. Bukowski and his hero were drunks, so the novel (I won't argue about whether it is one) is walled in by the narrow vision of a drunkard who cannot see out. I don't believe that I learned much about the United States of my earliest years from this book, and I'm a little sorry about that.

My respect and my disrespect for this book are separate matters, and I won't take them up much in my thread.


Jan 29, 2012, 3:10pm Top

Prisoner's Base by Rex Stout was first published in 1952.

Although I'm a fan of Rex Stout, I wasn't keen on this book. In the cosy tradition the murder victim(s) should be unpleasant people. This time they weren't.

It was a bit slack of me to choose something as easy as this, so I'll continue to look for a more challenging book from 1952.

Jan 29, 2012, 11:29pm Top

I cheated a bit and read all 88 pages of Celebrate the Sun by James J. Kavanaugh, published in 1973. It's a fable about Pelicans, very similar in style to Jonathan Livingston Seagull. Irritatingly heavy on moral overtones, but yet I still found it readable. I may still get too A History of the Jewish Experience, another 1973 book.

Jan 31, 2012, 6:28pm Top

I am trying to decide between Cormac McCarthy's debut The Orchard Keeper, and a horsey mystery Airs Above the Ground. So tempting to go with Fox in Socks, though.

Jan 31, 2012, 9:07pm Top

I know -- Thidwick the Big-Hearted Moose was published in 1948 -- it's probably the only 1948 book I'll have time for, though I would like to read Willa Cather's The Old Beauty and Others. I also read, many eons ago, Cherry Ames, Cruise Nurse.

Feb 7, 2012, 4:49am Top

So, I read To Your Scattered Bodies Go by Philip José Farmer, which made its first appearance in the world in the same year I did, 1971. I've reviewed it on my thread -- short version: incredible premise, frustrating execution -- and won't repeat that here. But I will add that it's always an interesting and slightly odd experience to read a science fiction novel written more than a couple of decades ago. This one features a few characters from the year 2008, which, needless to say, seems to bear little resemblance to the actual year 2008. I find it genuinely rather shocking to realize that when this book was written, 2008 was as remote and unimaginable a year as 2049 is today. But it's the utter, unquestioned ubiquity of smoking and the assumption that that will continue forever that is always the most jarring and alien thing to me about SF novels of this vintage. Apparently no one can be expected to live without cigarettes, even when resurrected into a bizarre alien afterlife.

(By the way, my thanks to AnnieMod for suggesting this book for this challenge, and thus reminding me that I already had a copy on my TBR stacks. Whatever issues I may have with it, I'm glad to have finally gotten around to reading it.)

Feb 7, 2012, 10:59pm Top

Finally settled on America and Americans by Steinbeck. This is a coffee table book. It is a compilation of pictures (all are good - some are great) and his self-described "opinionated" essays on America. So much of what he says is so incredibly apt for the U.S. we live in today - especially in this volatile election year climate - that I have to remind myself that it was published in 1966.

Feb 8, 2012, 12:58am Top

>53 bragan:

I read it in the mid 90s, when they started publishing SF in Bulgaria -- and I loved it. Maybe because it was not yet 2000 and the internet was not what it is now, maybe because I did not know a lot of things back then :) I plan on rereading it some day mainly because the morons never translated the 4th and later books and I always wanted to read them... and I had found that mixing Bulgarian and English for these series published in the 90s does not work. And you are welcome.

As a report - I am yet to read anything published in my year - things just... slided somehow :) I will get around to it.

>52 janeajones:

Noone says that when February finishes, you cannot still do the challenge :)

Feb 8, 2012, 1:09am Top

>55 AnnieMod:: As with many, many things, I think I might have liked it better if I'd read it when I were much younger.

Feb 8, 2012, 1:47am Top

>56 bragan:

Maybe :) I seem to have the opposite issue - I need to reread some books because I read them when I was way too young to catch on what was going on (not action-wise but the more subtle things...)

Feb 17, 2012, 9:31am Top

I finally finished The Stories of John Cheever, which was admittedly a cop-out since most of the stories were originalky published prior to 1978. However, when looking at the top books of 1978, I found that I had already read most of then, but I had not read this one. Despite its age, I found Cheever's stories of emptiness suburban life to be completely relatable and to be a wonderful reading experience.

Feb 20, 2012, 3:36pm Top

>58 fuzzy_patters: I just happened upon Cheever's "The Swimmer" and got so interested that I'm following up with the Burt Lancaster film. Adding the collection you read to my wishlist!

Mar 2, 2012, 2:38pm Top

I know it's March, but I just started a reread (last read in the early 70s) of Adventures of Mottel the Cantor's Son by Sholom Aleichem; the English translation (by Singer's granddaughter) was first published in 1953, the year I was born.

Mar 2, 2012, 2:44pm Top

I ended up reading Good Behaviour by Molly Keane, originally published in 1981.

I still plan to read some books about 1981 - even with the first 2 months being finished.

Mar 4, 2012, 11:13am Top

Well, I finished Adventures of Mottel the Cantor's Son and have no recollection of reading it in the 70s, even though I bought it at the time I was taking a Yiddish literature in translation course, so I'm glad I read it now. It was written in the early part of the 20th century, but the English translation was first published the year I was born.

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