About the Club Archives
Just a quick reminder to let everyone know that our discussion of Giraffe kicked off on Monday. If you have read the book, please feel free to drop in and participate.
Also, now that I've been thinking about Remainder again and how I totally failed as a moderator, I'm considering redoing the discussion for October. A reenactment, if you will, since I can't get enough of recommending it to others. Who's with me?
Anyone interested in moderating for November?
Last week, for our discussion of Remainder, I slapped up a post and just left it while I barely touched the computer. It doesn't surprise me that no one participated. We generally do better when someone else hosts a book because it's a guarantee of at least two people talking. The thread will stay open for a while if anyone still intends to drop by and add a few late thoughts. In any case, I encourage everyone to read this book because I really enjoyed both its tone and originality.
Although I'm behind on responding to previous discussions, comments continue to come in on both The Wasp Factory and Things Fall Apart. I need to go back to those thread and add some comments. I also have copies at hand for our upcoming discussions. I'm currently plugging away at Happiness and have caught myself chuckling aloud because its satire of the publishing industry is a whole lot more real than made up.
Summer has officially kicked off here and we've seen nothing but absolutely gorgeous weather. From hours and hours of gardening, I have already gotten a significant amount of sun and am sporting a set of very bright flip flop tan lines on both feet. This morning, the first thing I need to do is mow the very long grass. Then it's back to business starting with going through a bottomless pile of email.
If you're returning to the grind after enjoying a long holiday weekend, don't work too hard today.
Although only three people participated in September's discussion, I am really pleased since we covered a lot of ground. We're just getting going (again), so I'm sure it's a matter of time before more people join in. Anyone want to volunteer to moderate November?
Thanks to Ana’s post and a lot of kind comments and e-mails, I have finally forced myself to do something about BookBlog. Frankly, there have been two basic reasons why I have allowed the site to languish over the last several months: a lifestyle change and endless spam.
My New Life
Back in October, I finally stepped onto the property ladder. I purchased a house in a lakeside community and left behind my city apartment. The move took several months since I managed it in the most inefficient way possible, one carload at a time. My sister took over the apartment, so I never felt pressure to get it all done at once and it had the effect of allowing me to drag my heels. Having been an urbanite all of my life, I suffered some culture shock as I began adjusting to life in the sub-suburbs. Although my new community isn’t completely rural, I skipped the manicured lawns of the suburbs and am in a home which gets most of its heat from a wood-burning stove. (Seriously, who wouldn’t freak out? One day you’re turning a thermostat dial and the next you’re splitting logs with a wedge and sledgehammer.) And there are the non-stop home improvements: a new water heater, ductwork, electrical, drywall, flooring, painting, decorating, and an enormous list of things still to do.
Over time, living 50 miles away from the day job began to take its toll. I drove at first but was quickly discouraged by traffic (New Jersey’s leg of Route 80 is possibly the worst road in all creation) and a twice-daily, rush hour, white-knuckle, slamming on the brakes crawl over the George Washington Bridge. I switched to the train which meant that, although less stressful, my commute was three hours each way. Each way! Losing six hours a day left me with no desire to devote any precious free time to managing a web site. When the school year ended in June, I gave up teaching fourth grade at a place I loved. It was a difficult decision but my time is now my own. I haven’t done much about finding another job because summer vacation is a vice I didn’t want to sacrifice to hunting. The dog days are winding down, so if anyone out there knows of a job for an unemployed teacher with lots of diverse talents in northern New Jersey, feel free to e-mail me. I’m willing to work for peanuts and all serious offers will be considered.
Spam, Spam, and More Spam
Spam is like a snowball rolling down a hill. If you don’t do anything to stop its progress, it keeps on getting bigger. What can I say? It’s been easiest to simply ignore it.
Steps in the Right Direction
After months of doing nothing, I finally did something. I upgraded to the latest version of Movable Type. Things will look kind of funky around here for a while as I learn how to use all of its features, including the spam filtering. For now, I’ve set the site so that comments have to be approved manually. I realize it will slow things down a bit since it will require me to look at each comment before publishes, but this measure is only temporary since I’m most concerned with slowing the spamball. I’m also resolving to post daily. I probably won’t always write about books even though I read constantly, so please bear with my ramblings as I try to keep the homepage from stagnating. And the there’s the Gender Genie. It will be back…at some point.
Of course, BookBlog’s primary mission is to discuss books. Most likely, the next discussion will take place in September to give everyone time to read the selection. For the moment, I’m thinking about reviving the discussion I bailed on, Jonathan Lethem’s Motherless Brooklyn. If anyone is interested in signing up for October forward, feel free to leave a comment on this thread.
Finally, I’d like to mention my appreciation of BookBlog’s members, readers, commenters, and e-mailers. I’m especially grateful to Ana, who took the initiative to post and light a fire under my butt. If it wasn’t for everyone’s interest in the site, it would have been long dead by now. You’ve breathed life back into this tired phoenix. And I sincerely thank you.
I've received a whole bunch of e-mails recently about joining BookBlog and will answer them as soon as I have a block of time. However, please note that you do not need permission to join a discussion. Just jump right in and post a comment. Being a member only comes into play when you're interested in moderating a book. Until then, it's a free-for-all.
In thinking about discussion questions for Invisible Monsters, I've been doing a little bit of research on running a book club. The following links should be helpful for our future book hosts:
from the Seattle Public Library
from the New Hanover County Public Library (Wilmington, NC)
I also found out today that our illustrious member Suzy is also currently in both face to face and online book clubs. I asked her for suggestions on how to get our group going and she had some good ones. So...
- The first rule of bookblog is you will participate in bookblog.
- The second rule of bookblog is you will participate in bookblog.
- The third rule is the moderator will post at least one discussion question per day (except weekends) in an entry and the participants will respond in the comments.
- The fourth rule is if a member comes up with another discussion question, that member will post it in an entry and the participants will respond in the comments.
- The fifth rule is the discussions start on the 15th of the month or the next Monday if the 15th falls during a weekend.
- The sixth rule is no shirts, no shoes.
- The seventh rule is discussions will go on for as long as they have to.
- The eighth and final rule of bookblog is if you're a member of bookblog, you have to moderate (click here for the moderator's responsibilities; e-mail me to sign up).
If you don't get why the first two rules are the same, then you've never seen Fight Club, a movie based on the Palahniuk book of the same name.
You may be wondering why we won't be having discussions on weekends. Weekends are slow Internet days since most folks are busy doing other things. Besides, everyone needs time off...even from blogging.
Deadlines; A Navigation Tip
Okay. I think we're a go on reading a book by the middle of the month and saving the discussion for the end of the month. I've added the dates over on the left by the book image as a reminder to everyone.
Recently, Andy and I were talking about the blog format. (He's actually excited about the club despite his lack of posting and commenting thus far.) He thought that the discussions might be a bit easier to read if the page was laid out more like a bulletin board with the main post at the top and all of the comments on the same page below it (rather than in a pop up box like it is now).
Tonight, I finished building the individual entry pages and realized Andy's suggested format is already built into the site. If you click on the "link" below each post, it will take you to a page for that entry. The comments and a form for adding a new comment are on the same page below the entry. The gray box above the post houses a little navigation bar for scrolling through the entries or returning to the main page.
Whichever way you prefer to read the posts and comments, it's there for you. Thank you, Movable Type!
Let's see...just have to build the monthly pages. Then there are those few lines of code to fix on the category pages. Of course, I need to get the moderators to pick their books for the upcoming months. And I should also work on the random pic thingie. Well, the site will get done one of these days.
I'm wondering how the progress is going on Invisible Monsters. I know Kate's finished it and several others have started. Its story has a lot of twists so I don't want to spoil it by giving too much away before everyone's had a chance to get into it. Invisible Monsters is actually a pretty easy read so it shouldn't take anyone more than a few days to get through. Palahniuk uses short paragraphs and doesn't seem to know many very big words.
I'm thinking that maybe we should set a date for discussing each book. Like, we could give everyone until the 15th of the month to read a title then spend the last two weeks discussing it.
What do you think?
Although we've only just started, I need people to volunteer to moderate in the coming months. The moderator should:
- Pick the book we’ll read. It should be a title that’s easily found in bookstores or libraries and preferably also out in paperback. I’m a commuting reader and it’s impossible to hold a hardcover while also trying to hold on for your life. Oh, and fiction, please.
- Post questions for discussion. If the discussion isn’t directed, we might end up with a bunch of posts like "this book sucked" which would make the club suck.
- Keep the discussion going by posting frequently. Lively activity would make it more interesting for outsiders wandering by as well as keep the club members into it.
Any takers? If I keep on picking the books, my love for nihilistic literature may land all of you on a suicide watch. Besides, I'd also like each of you to expose the other members to books they might not normally choose to read (especially me).