Book Club Discussion: The Goddess of Small Victories

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Do you ever wonder what it would be like to have dinner with Albert Einstein? In the novel The Goddess of Small Victories (Other Press) by Yannick Grannec, we get a glimpse into mathematician Kurt Gödel who was good friends with Albert Einstein. Gödel’s colleagues are immortalized in the history books, but Grannec gives the scientists and mathematician humanity through the eyes of Adele, Gödel’s wife.

Join our The Goddess of Small Victories book club discussion by taking a look at what From Left to Write members had to say about the novel:

Learn more about  The Goddess of Small Victories the book and author in this great interview about the novelYannick Grannec is a graphic designer, freelance art director, professor of fine arts, and enthusiast of mathematics. The Goddess of Small Victories is her first novel. She lives in Saint-Paul de Vence, France.

Have you entered to win a copy of the book? Hurry, giveaway ends soon–just enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.

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Review: The Wonder of All Things

The Wonder of All Things by Jason Mott

The Wonder of All Things by Jason Mott

I loved Jason Mott’s debut novel The Returned so much that I hunted down an elusive galley of his second  at Book Expo America. The Wonder of All Things has been sitting patiently on my shelf until closer to its release date, when I released it from my self-imposed ban. I even cleared my schedule in order to read it so I could write a timely review of The Wonder of All Things for you.

Unfortunately, The Wonder of All Things lacked the intensity and magic of Mott’s debut novel. I’m not saying the novel wasn’t good, but it felt flat. It’s my fault having such high expectations.

During an air show in a small town, a plane crashes into the spectators. Many are injured and some even killed. Thirteen-year-old Ava and her friend Wash are trapped under the debris of a silo. Wash is bleeding and severely injured, but rescuers are not yet able to free the two. In this moment of distress, the world discovers Ava’s gift: she lays her hands on her best friend and heals his injury.

A video of the miraculous act goes viral and the world rushes to the small mountain town for a touch, a glimpse of the miracle healer. Entire churches move their gathering place to be near her. Neighbors beg for her help. Everyone around her demands that Ava to heal them. Many believed that it was her duty to lay hands on their wounds and make them whole. However, with each healing, Ava becomes weaker and weaker, as if she is pouring herself into each living thing she saves. While her father and Wash attempt to save her, Ava believes there is only one way she can save herself.

Death and rebirth seems to be an underlying theme for Mott’s writing. The Returned was inspired by a dream about Mott’s deceased mother. No doubt The Wonder of All Things had similar beginnings. With the introduction of Reverend Brown, I expected a deeper look into the meaning of Ava’s gift with its Christian implications. I was disappointed that the novel mostly focused on the action and ignored the provenance of Ava’s powers.

What I enjoyed most about The Returned were its underlying themes about how humanity deals with what it cannot understand, but in The Wonder of All Things merely flitted over the opportunity to expound upon similar themes.

I hope that this is just a sophomoric slump. I will definitely read Jason Mott’s next novel.

Have you read The Wonder of All Things? What did you think?

Book Club Feature: The Goddess of Small Victories + Giveaway

Goddess of Small Victories by Yannick Grannec

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Staying in theme with our first book club selection, our second pick for October is also about numbers.

The Goddess of Small Victories (Other Press) by Yannick Grannec (translated by  Willard Wood) is a fictional account about brilliant mathematician Kurt Gödel as told from his wife’s perspective. Adele, a former cabaret dancer, was shunned by the scientific community, but as Gödel’s widow, she refuses to relinquish his papers over to the scientific community. The novel alternates between flashbacks to their relationships and to 1980 where young Anna is tasked with the job of obtaining the papers from Adele.

More about the book:

Princeton University 1980. Kurt Gödel, the most fascinating, though hermetic, mathematician of the twentieth century, has just died of anorexia. His widow, Adele, a fierce woman shunned by her husband’s colleagues because she had been a cabaret dancer, is now consigned to a nursing home. To the great annoyance of the Institute of Advanced Studies, she refuses to hand over Gödel’s precious records. Anna Roth, the timid daughter of two mathematicians who are part of the Princeton clique, is given the difficult task of befriending Adele and retrieving the documents from her. As Adele begins to notice Anna’s own estrangement from her milieu and starts to trust her, she opens the gates of her memory and together they travel back to Vienna during the Nazi era, Princeton right after the war, the pressures of McCarthyism, the end of the positivist ideal, and the advent of nuclear weapons. It is this epic story of a genius who could never quite find his place in the world, and the determination of the woman who loved him, that will eventually give Anna the courage to change her own life.

The Goddess of Small Victories  will be released on October 14, but pre-order the book now so you can join us on October 16th for our From Left to Write book club discussion. Learn more about the book and author in a recent interview about the novel.

Yannick Grannec is a graphic designer, freelance art director, professor of fine arts, and enthusiast of mathematics. The Goddess of Small Victories is her first novel. She lives in Saint-Paul de Vence, France.

Goddess of Small Victories by Yannick Grannec

Giveaway:  Win a copy of  The Goddess of Small Victories! Enter using the Rafflecopter form below (US and Canadian addresses only).

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Book Club Discussion: Dataclysm by Christian Rudder

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Dataclysm FL2W Book Club Banner

It’s not often you find me sneaking time to read a book full of data and statistics by Christian Rudder, Dataclysm: Who We Are (When We Think We No One’s Looking) is different.  OKCupid co-founder Rudder uses extensive data from the dating site and other sources to discover facts such as couples who have less mutual connections on Facebook are less likely to become divorced.

The book covers everything from our writing style on Twitter to cut and paste pick-up lines on OKCupid to developing your brand online. For our book club members–who are bloggers, this book was a fascinating look into our online lives. Head over to their blogs to read our Dataclysm book club discussion:

Read Dataclysm: Who We Are (When We Think No One’s Looking) and see what your Facebook status updates say about you.

Follow Christian Rudder on Twitter or on the OKCupid blog.

Book Club Feature: Dataclysm by Christian Rudder

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Dataclysm FL2W Book Club Banner

We’re starting October with a book club feature that takes data and numbers to give an inside look into human behavior. Written by OKCupid founder Christian Rudder, Dataclysm: Who We Are (When We Think We No One’s Looking) digs into the personal data bread crumbs we leave during our online lives.

Rudder explains how Facebook “likes” can predict, with surprising accuracy, a person’s sexual orientation and even intelligence; how attractive women receive exponentially more interview requests; and why you must have haters to be hot. He charts the rise and fall of America’s most reviled word through Google Search and examines the new dynamics of collaborative rage on Twitter. He shows how people express themselves, both privately and publicly. What is the least Asian thing you can say? Do people bathe more in Vermont or New Jersey? What do black women think about Simon & Garfunkel? (Hint: they don’t think about Simon & Garfunkel.) Rudder also traces human migration over time, showing how groups of people move from certain small towns to the same big cities across the globe. And he grapples with the challenge of maintaining privacy in a world where these explorations are possible.

Dataclysm by Christian Rudder

I first learned about Dataclysm while at Book Expo America–I was skeptical on how a book full of data would be interesting for civilians like me. Rudder’s writing is personable and entertaining. He makes those numbers and charts more personal. For example, here’s two tidbits that he discovered during the course of writing the book:



I prefer winebeer from Dataclysm

Have I convinced you to pick up a copy of Dataclysm: Who We Are (When We Think No One’s Looking), yet? Join us on October 9th as From Left to Write book club members discuss it.

Follow Christian Rudder on Twitter or on the OKCupid blog.

Book Club Discussion: Barracuda by Christos Tsiolkas

Barracuda Banner FL2W Book Club

Barracuda Banner FL2W Book Club

Today we’re talking about  Barracuda by Christos Tsiolkas, our second September book club pick. For Dan, the novel’s main character, life is divided in before prison and after prison. A powerful swimmer, he once had a chance at the Olympics, but throws it away in an act of violence. The novel is a powerful story about our definitions of success, failure and redemption.

From Left to Write members had plenty to say about Barracuda. Head over to their sites to join our discussion:

The novel is on sale now, so grab your copy of Barracuda by Christos Tsiolkas, and join our discussion!

Follow news from Aussie Christos Tsiolkas via his website.