The winning title for 2012-2013
One Amazing Thing by Chitra Divakaruni
240 pages; 2010.
Nominated by Erin Delaney: "The book is beautifully written. I especially liked the way the characters analyzed each other's stories."
More information: Nine strangers trapped in a basement office after an earthquake deal with fear, hunger, thirst, and an ominous flood by telling their stories to one another. See the author's website and Amazon reviews.
The five other finalists for 2012-2013
Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell
309 pages; 2008.
Nominated by Tae Oh: "a good combination of inspiration and intellectual approach on how to accomplish things such as doing well in college."
More information: the Wikipedia entry offers snippets from several reviews of the book as well as a synopsis and a brief biography. If you've heard of "the 10,000 hour rule," you've heard of Outliers. Gladwell's website includes lots of information about the book.
The Devil's Highway: A True Story by Luis Alberto Urrea
220 pages; 2004.
Nominated by Sharron Kollmeyer Gerfen.
More information: UC Davis has an interactive map about Route 666. See also this long review in The Atlantic Monthly, which describes the book as "The single most compelling, lucid, and lyrical contemporary account of the absurdity of U.S. border policy."
Leaving Home: Stories selected by Hazel Rochman and Darlene Z. McCampbell
227 pages; 1997.
Nominated by Sharron Kollmeyer Gerfen.
Room: A Novel by Emma Donoghue
336 pages; 2010.
Nominated by Peter Grego.
More information: author's website. “The story of a five-year-old called Jack, who lives in a single room with his Ma and has never been outside. When he turns five, he starts to ask questions.” Horror story; or, perhaps, a story about maternal love keeping horror at bay.
Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
272 pages; 2000.
Nominated by Alexa Dimakos.
More information: "Go Carolina" (ch. 1 of the book); see also "A Tanorexic in the Family" by Jonathan Reynolds (New York Times 4 June 2000). Autobiographical comic essays. Sedaris will speak on campus at the Valley Performing Arts Center on 11/20/2011. (Image: source.)
Other titles nominated for 2012-2013
Year of the Griffin by Diana Wynne Jones
400 pages; 2001.
Nominated by Jackie Stallcup: "A funny, raucous tale of six freshman students starting their studies at a Wizarding University that has fallen on hard times. . . . the novel captures academic politics and the feeling of stretching one’s wings in an exciting new environment (that isn’t always entirely friendly to one’s ambitions). . . . I think our students will identify with . . . the exploration of family relationships."
Black Swan Green: A Novel by David Mitchell
304 pages; 2006.
Nominated by Donna Stone: " The 13-year-old protagonist, who has a stammer, is negotiating his way through the social hierarchy of his peers and also trying to understand the adult world, which he’s on the cusp of but doesn’t have sufficient maturity to comprehend fully. The language is fabulous, and this author really evokes what it feels like to be at that most awkward age."
What Is the What?: The Autobiography of Valentino Achak Deng by Dave Eggers
475 pages; 2006.
Nominated by Debra Berry Malmberg.
More information: "Billed as a novel, What Is the What is more a work of imaginary journalism: Valentino is an actual refugee, whom Eggers spent years interviewing." (Review by David Amsden, New York Magazine.) See also Francine Prose, New York Times Sunday Book Review, and the Valentino Achak Deng Foundation website.
Whistling in the Dark: A Novel by Leslie Kagen
336 pages; 2007.
Nominated by Sharron Kollmeyer Gerfen.
More information: author's website; "Fox Cities [Wisconsin] Reads" book choice for 2010. Story of two neglected little girls in 1959 as they care for one another while seeking to avoid a murderer/molester.
The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson
600+ pages; 2010.
Nominated by Sharron Kollmeyer Gerfen: "beautifully written."
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet: A Novel by Jamie Ford
285 pages; 2009.
Nominated by Bradley M. Reynolds.
More information: Reading Guide (author's website); Ford narrates a YouTube video of locations in the novel. A father and son; a childhood love lost in the aftermath of Executive Order 9066 and then rediscovered, unexpectedly, decades later.
The Help: A Novel by Kathryn Stockett
450+ pages; 2009.
Nominated by Erin Delaney: "a story of a young journalist in early 1960's Jackson, Mississippi, recording the stories of 'the help'--the African-American women who work for white women as maids and nannies... a heartfelt portrayal of an emotionally-wrought situation."
More information: Huffington Post book review
Just Like Us: The True Story of Four Mexican Girls Coming of Age in America by Helen Thorpe
416 pages; 2009.
Nominated by Melissa Marcussen; previously nominated by Scott Andrews (for 2011-2012).
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
371 pages; 2003.
Nominated by Melissa Marcussen; previously nominated by Richard Battaglia (for 2008-2009).
The Translator: A Tribesman’s Memoir of Darfur by Daoud Hari
224 pages; 2008.
Nominated by Debbi Mercado: "Beautifully written, accessible, important, 224 pages. I loved it."
More information: Hari was a translator in Sudan. Violence, imprisonment, and eventually rescue. Now he lives in the USA. "Additional Resources" from the publisher's website; and see this Amazon review.
Sandworms of Dune by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson
496 pages; 2007.
Nominated by Johnie Scott: "very entertaining...lays [the] foundation for lots of discussion."
Heretics of Dune by Frank Herbert
4oo+ pages; 1984.
Nominated by Johnie Scott: "a universe dominated by women -- the Bene Gesserit on the one hand and the Honored Matres on the other -- with a surprise third element which elevates this series to the level of allegory."
More information: http://www.challengingdestiny.com/reviews/dune5.htm
Foundation's Edge by Isaac Asimov
480 pages; 1982.
Nominated by Johnie Scott: "one of the true classics of the sci-fi genre."
More information: Duelling empires in a galactic future. See http://www.worldswithoutend.com/novel.asp?ID=30
Mr Tompkins in Paperback by George Gamow
186 pages; 1945 and 1948; rev. 1965.
Nominated by Say-Peng Lim; contains "Mr Tompkins in Wonderland" and "Mr Tompkins Explores the Atom."
More information: Structured as a series of dreams; characters’ adventures explain scientific theories to the rest of us. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mr_Tompkins
Orfan: A Novel by Corie Skolnick
368 pages; 2010.
Nominated by Corie Skolnick: "Orfan was born at CSUN in my own upper division writing intensive course, The Psychological Aspects of Parenthood, when I organized a panel of speakers on the subject of adoption. The panel stories provided both subject matter and inspiration for the finished manuscript."
More information: http://bookchase.blogspot.com/2011/05/orfan.html
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
384 pages; 2010.
Nominated by Kate Gurewitz: "Non-fiction; a black woman's cancer cells were isolated and duplicated without her knowledge. She died without knowing that this line of cells would eventually be used (and profited from) by scientists all over the world. Presents all sorts of interesting ethical/moral questions."
More information: http://rebeccaskloot.com/the-immortal-life/
The Known World by Edward P. Jones
416 pages; 2003.
Nominated by Johnie Scott: "the required reading for PAS 155 Approaches to University Writing courses for 2011."
More information: A former slave builds his own epic family empire. See http://www.bookbrowse.com/reviews/index.cfm?book_number=1279
Next: A Novel by Michael Crichton
448 pages; 2006.
Nominated by Irene Clark: "It raises interesting issues about biotechnology and could generate thought-provoking assignments. It's also lots of fun to read."
More information: The drama and controversy surrounding gene patents. See http://www.michaelcrichton.net/books-next-history.html