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The Five Reads of Christmas

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This is what I'd like to be reading.  However as I'm currently on a challenge to go a whole year without buying books, I'll be pulling backlog off the shelves, Ackroyd's biography of William Blake, Kim Gordon's Girl in a Band,, The Fabric of the Cosmos by Brian Greene, The paying Guests by Sarah Waters, and Laurent Binet's HHhH.  Still doesn't look too bad, does it!

    The Sellout

    A biting satire about a young man's isolated upbringing and the race trial that sends him to the Supreme Court, Paul Beatty's The Sellout showcases a comic genius at the top of his game. It challenges the sacred tenets of the United States Constitution, urban life, the civil rights movement, the father-son relationship, and the holy grail of racial equality―the black Chinese restaurant. Born in the "agrarian ghetto" of Dickens―on the southern outskirts of Los Angeles―the narrator of The Sellout resigns himself to the fate of lower-middle-class Californians: "I'd die in the same bedroom I'd grown up in, looking up at the cracks in the stucco ceiling that've been there since '68 quake." Raised by a single father, a controversial sociologist, he spent his childhood as the subject in racially charged psychological studies. He is led to believe that his father's pioneering work will result in a memoir that will solve his family's financial woes. But when his father is killed in a police shoot-out, he realizes there never was a memoir. All that's left is the bill for a drive-thru funeral. Fueled by this deceit and the general disrepair of his hometown, the narrator sets out to right another wrong: Dickens has literally been removed from the map to save California from further embarrassment. Enlisting the help of the town's most famous resident―the last surviving Little Rascal, Hominy Jenkins―he initiates the most outrageous action conceivable: reinstating slavery and segregating the local high school, which lands him in the Supreme Court.

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    Born to Run

    "Writing about yourself is a funny business...But in a project like this, the writer has made one promise, to show the reader his mind. In these pages, I've tried to do this." -Bruce Springsteen, from the pages of Born to Run In 2009, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band performed at the Super Bowl's halftime show. The experience was so exhilarating that Bruce decided to write about it. That's how this extraordinary autobiography began. Over the past seven years, Bruce Springsteen has privately devoted himself to writing the story of his life, bringing to these pages the same honesty, humor, and originality found in his songs. He describes growing up Catholic in Freehold, New Jersey, amid the poetry, danger, and darkness that fueled his imagination, leading up to the moment he refers to as "The Big Bang": seeing Elvis Presley's debut on The Ed Sullivan Show. He vividly recounts his relentless drive to become a musician, his early days as a bar band king in Asbury Park, and the rise of the E Street Band. With disarming candor, he also tells for the first time the story of the personal struggles that inspired his best work, and shows us why the song "Born to Run" reveals more than we previously realized. Born to Run will be revelatory for anyone who has ever enjoyed Bruce Springsteen, but this book is much more than a legendary rock star's memoir. This is a book for workers and dreamers, parents and children, lovers and loners, artists, freaks, or anyone who has ever wanted to be baptized in the holy river of rock and roll. Rarely has a performer told his own story with such force and sweep. Like many of his songs ("Thunder Road," "Badlands," "Darkness on the Edge of Town," "The River," "Born in the U.S.A.," "The Rising," and "The Ghost of Tom Joad," to name just a few), Bruce Springsteen's autobiography is written with the lyricism of a singular songwriter and the wisdom of a man who has thought deeply about his experiences.

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    The Power

    SHORTLISTED FOR THE 2017 BAILEYS WOMEN'S PRIZE FOR FICTIONLONGLISTED FOR THE 2017 ORWELL PRIZEWhat if the power to hurt were in women's hands?Suddenly - tomorrow or the day after - teenage girls find that with a flick of their fingers, they can inflict agonizing pain and even death. With this single twist, the four lives at the heart of Naomi Alderman's extraordinary, visceral novel are utterly transformed.

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    The Invention of Angela Carter

    Angela Carter is widely acknowledged as one of the most important and beguiling writers of the last century. Her work stands out for its bawdiness and linguistic zest, its hospitality to the fantastic and the absurd, and its extraordinary inventiveness and range. Her life was as modern and as unconventional as anything in her fiction. Born Angela Olive Stalker in Eastbourne in 1940, her story spans the latter half of the twentieth century. After escaping an oppressive childhood and a difficult early marriage, the success of her first novels enable the freedoms of travel - journeying across America in a Greyhound bus, and then on to Tokyo, where she lived for three transformative years - before settling in London to write her last, great novels, amid the joys of late motherhood and prestigious teaching posts abroad. By the time of her tragic and untimely death at the age of fifty-one, she was firmly established as an iconoclastic writer whose fearlessly original work had reinvigorated the literary landscape and inspired a new generation. This is the story of how Angela Carter invented herself - as a new kind of woman and a new kind of writer - and how she came to write such seductive works as The Bloody Chamber, Nights at the Circus and Wise Children. Edmund Gordon has followed in Carter's footsteps to uncover a life rich in incident and adventure. With unrestricted access to her manuscripts, letters and journals, and informed by dozens of interviews with her friends and family, this major biography offers a definitive portrait of one of our most dazzling writers.

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    SEVENEVES

    The astounding new novel from the master of science fiction. What would happen if the world were ending? When a catastrophic event renders the earth a ticking time bomb, it triggers a feverish race against the inevitable. An ambitious plan is devised to ensure the survival of humanity far beyond our atmosphere. But unforeseen dangers threaten the intrepid pioneers, until only a handful of survivors remain...Five thousand years later, their progeny - seven distinct races now three billion strong - embark on yet another audacious journey into the unknown, to an alien world utterly transformed by cataclysm and time: Earth. A writer of dazzling genius and imaginative vision, Neal Stephenson combines science, philosophy, technology, psychology, and literature in a magnificent work of speculative fiction that offers a portrait of a future that is at once extraordinary and eerily recognizable. He explores some of our biggest ideas and perplexing challenges in a breathtaking saga that is daring, engrossing, and altogether brilliant.

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