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Old 03-06-2013, 11:05 AM   #31
paola
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Them's fighting words!
Ha!

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As I said earlier, what I like about this Club is the courtesy of the members, and speaking personally, I would be happy to accept the group's verdict that a book does not qualify as literature.

Of course, the other way is what happened with this month's vote, where a book perceived by people as not qualifying as literature simply didn't get up.
agreed!
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Old 03-06-2013, 12:31 PM   #32
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Ha! As I said earlier, what I like about this Club is the courtesy of the members, and speaking personally, I would be happy to accept the group's verdict that a book does not qualify as literature.

Of course, the other way is what happened with this month's vote, where a book perceived by people as not qualifying as literature simply didn't get up.
Yes, I agree with you.

The definition of literature varies and of course it has a subjective aspect. I am rather an omnivore when reading, but I cherish the books that make me think, that are able to show me an aspect of thought that I didn't consider before.

And one doesn't have to agree with the writer's work to aknowledge the literary merit of a book. I think of Nabokov's Lolita, which is literature, even when I felt a bit uncomfortable reading the thoughts of the actor. But this doesn't have to be a reason to not consider it for any ( adult) bookclub.
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Old 03-06-2013, 01:01 PM   #33
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Excellent. And applying some self-criticism to the current nominations, I feel confident that Incas qualifies, but France probably does not.
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From the descriptions given, I believe all of the works are safely within the literary zone--though I know that Hemming's book on the Incas is the major contribution on that subject in over a century and very impressive.
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Ha! As I said earlier, what I like about this Club is the courtesy of the members, and speaking personally, I would be happy to accept the group's verdict that a book does not qualify as literature.

Of course, the other way is what happened with this month's vote, where a book perceived by people as not qualifying as literature simply didn't get up.
Since we're discussing honest evaluations of literary merit here, I would actually say that based on their blurbs, almost none of the nominations this month seem especially literary. But I will qualify that by saying that they do all seem like non-fiction books of the highest standard, and that literary non-fiction is trickier than other literature, so this month is one of the trickiest.

I think of literary non-fiction as non-fiction that is experiences and observations written artistically and eloquently. For instance, I'd say only one book from this month's official nominations applies and that book didn't make it to the run-off - Goodbye to All That (In Cold Blood and Just Kids also seem literary but neither of them made the vote). Last non-fiction month (which took place way back in September 2011), the official nominations were very literary - The People of the Abyss, Insurgent Mexico and Christ Stopped at Eboli all seemed to be written with the language and beauty of the work in mind. LOL, those were 3/4 official nominations that month...and the one other nomination which wasn't literary won.

That's not to say that the type of books nominated this month aren't great books. But reading their blurbs, I think most of them are more reporting, facts and intense research. And I'm sure they're all well-written, maybe even very well-written, but they seem to be less artistically written than what I would consider literary non-fiction.

I'm sure I'll get some disagreements since I'm saying most of our (great) nominations this month aren't really literary, especially since literary non-fiction is harder to define than the already hard to define literary fiction, but nonetheless I think looked at objectively, they really don't qualify.

This isn't something I've been thinking all during nominations. I've blithely enjoyed the nominations so far, and only thought of it on reading the quoted posts. And, whichever book wins, I'm going to enjoy reading. But perhaps, I could add a guiding sub-header to the Non-Fiction category for next time, something like "Experiences and observations, artistically and eloquently written" (any other suggestions welcome).

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Old 03-06-2013, 03:14 PM   #34
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Since we're discussing honest evaluations of literary merit here, I would actually say that based on their blurbs, almost none of the nominations this month seem especially literary. But I will qualify that by saying that they do all seem like non-fiction books of the highest standard, and that literary non-fiction is trickier than other literature, so this month is one of the trickiest.

This isn't something I've been thinking all during nominations. I've blithely enjoyed the nominations so far, and only thought of it on reading the quoted posts. And, whichever book wins, I'm going to enjoy reading. But perhaps, I could add a guiding sub-header to the Non-Fiction category for next time, something like "Experiences and observations, artistically and eloquently written" (any other suggestions welcome).
Thanks for sharing your thoughts Sun Surfer. They are interesting and cogent. {Though I do differ a bit with your conclusions}

Out of curiosity would you consider The Path To Rome by Hilaire Belloc to be an example of literary non-fiction as you conceive the genre?

I mention this particular book because it is written in language which frequently is tailored expressly for literary effect when describing certain states of mind--an example being the famous mystical Alps sequence. The article in Wikipedia states of it:

"More than a mere travelogue, 'The Path to Rome' contains descriptions of the people and places he encountered, his drawings in pencil and in ink of the route, humor, poesy, and the reflections of a large mind turned to the events of his time as he marches along his solitary way. At every turn, Belloc shows himself to be profoundly in love with Europe and with the Faith that he claims has produced it."

I think that a fair description of this book which I find creates a kaleidoscope of thought and feeling.

Would this type of book be more what you had in mind? {And yes, I might be thinking of it the next time we get to this category! }

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Old 03-07-2013, 12:23 AM   #35
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Yes, I failed to address literary non-fiction in any of my comments because I really don't know what it is.

Can you tell I'm really not good with non-fiction?
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Old 03-07-2013, 08:34 AM   #36
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I think you are right - it's harder to "pick" literary non-fiction than fiction and of course poetry. I felt pretty confident about Robert Graves' book because he was clearly one of the important English writers of the 20th century - a great poet, but also a fine writer of novels and a number of non-fiction works. I think Barbara Tuchman is a fine historian, but apart from those examples, I would really have to think quite hard to come up with a good list of literary non-fiction. Like you caleb, that probably means I don't read anything like as much non-fiction as fiction!

That book by Hilaire Belloc sounds interesting, fantasy fan. Hold that thought for next time!
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Old 04-08-2013, 02:50 PM   #37
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We are coming upon our two-year anniversary in June, and our book club year will "start a new year" in July.

I think the club has gone very well this year, but change always marches on. There may be some tweaks here and there to our rules, categories, etc., but as far as I can see, nothing major.

In addition to what's already been posted here in this thread the last few weeks, which I'm taking into account, I was wondering what changes any of you would like to see? Any new categories you'd like to see added? Categories you'd like to see removed? Categories you'd like switched to different months? Rules you'd like to see tweaked? Things you'd like added to the club? Things you'd like removed from the club? Anything you want clarified?

We have a few months to discuss things before any new changes take effect. Keep in mind that for the most part there won't be any polls or anything to determine what changes we may make. Since we're a smaller club, I'll simply make judgment calls. A poll or two could happen if it seems appropriate. We'll just play it by ear.

For reference, here is our current category list for July 2012-June 2013:

July - Highly Challenging
August - Lottery
September - Contemporary
October - Plays
November - Region
December - Open
January - Poetry
February - Time Period
March - Non-Fiction
April - Obscure
May - Region
June - Short
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Old 04-08-2013, 03:14 PM   #38
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We have two region categories. Perhaps one of those could go and another added. What about Biography/Memoirs as a possibility?

It does over-lap with non-fiction, but is more defined and there are plenty of very fine examples e.g.Boswell's Life of Johnson, Lytton Strachey's Queen Victoria, Augustine's Confessions, Biographia Literaria by Coleridge and even Wordsworth's Prelude.
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Old 04-08-2013, 05:45 PM   #39
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I've found we are a very quick club with only three days for nominations and two days for voting. Is it worth considering to give each phase an additional day?
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Old 04-08-2013, 11:36 PM   #40
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I'm actually pretty happy with the categories. There's some I have no interest in, but it's good that they are there for those who have an interest. I understand most categories were chosen arbitrarily and I think that has been advantageous.

The other book club is sooooo democratic and I don't think that always works for the better.

I actually like the two region categories myself, but that's just me. If it changes, it changes.

My main hope is that the same level of intelligence is applied by the members to the selection and discussion of works. It's been fun and educational for me.
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Old 04-09-2013, 04:20 AM   #41
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As we haven't come to it yet this year because of the switch in February, could you please clarify what "Time Period" means?

I think the more general categories are excellent as they allow for a wider range of works than if we had a category such as "Classics" for a specific month.

I feel very happy with what is there but like caleb, am trusting to the members that the selections will continue to be as good as they have been since I joined. For that reason, I'm happy with the status quo or with any changes that the more experienced members may suggest.

Presumably if we stick with two "Region" months, the rules require a different region to be selected for the second one.
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Old 04-09-2013, 07:44 AM   #42
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As we haven't come to it yet this year because of the switch in February, could you please clarify what "Time Period" means?

I think the more general categories are excellent as they allow for a wider range of works than if we had a category such as "Classics" for a specific month.

I feel very happy with what is there but like caleb, am trusting to the members that the selections will continue to be as good as they have been since I joined. For that reason, I'm happy with the status quo or with any changes that the more experienced members may suggest.

Presumably if we stick with two "Region" months, the rules require a different region to be selected for the second one.
Actually (re regions) the way it is working is that once a region has been selected it is out of consideration until every other region has been selected. That way the entire world is covered before reset. Or that is my understanding.

I like the current setup, though Billi's idea of an extra day for nominations and voting might be worthwhile.
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Old 04-10-2013, 06:02 PM   #43
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As we haven't come to it yet this year because of the switch in February, could you please clarify what "Time Period" means?
Sure. Time Period is similar to Region. We have a list of time periods, and start the month with a vote on which time period to use before nominations start. We've done the category once before in February 2012 already so you can look at that month's nomination thread if you want to get an idea before next month.

ETA - Here is a link to the first Time Period nomination thread: http://www.mobileread.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=168076

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Old 04-10-2013, 09:34 PM   #44
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That sounds an interesting category. Thanks for the explanation and link, sun surfer.
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Old 06-07-2013, 03:23 PM   #45
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Without meaning to, I may have been a bit misleading in previous post about our new upcoming club year. I said that as far as I could see then, probably not much would change for the upcoming club year. However, after more thought, I’d like to propose somewhat of a “change of course” for our club, or at least a trial of it.

For various reasons, I’d like us to try something a bit different. The plan is to try alternating months, where one month will be a normal category and then the next month will be sort of a “rotating” selections category. In these rotating months, we’ll take turns choosing the selections to be put to the vote. So, for instance, one month one member will choose a selection of nominations and then those nominations will go to the poll, where as usual all of us will vote on which will be the monthly selection. Then the month after will be a normal category again, then the month after another rotating selection where another member will choose the selections for the poll, and so on.

In this way we’ll have six regular category months and six “rotating” category months per year, alternating back and forth throughout the year. The idea is that everyone will take a turn at some point, hence six months of it a year so that everyone will get a chance within a year or two - that all the regulars who participate in nominations most every month will have a go, and then also that any semi-regulars or new members who are interested can also have a go if they’d like.

As far as who goes when, I think we’re a small enough and amenable enough group that I’d like to leave it up to us. I don’t think we need to plan too far ahead. I see something like us simply keep a running discussion going in say this thread, and people can volunteer for an upcoming month. If needed, this can be tweaked as we go along.

With this plan, each member of our little club will have a chance to have a nomination of theirs be chosen as the monthly selection. We’re at a perfect size for something like this - large enough to be a healthy group but small enough so that each person can have their turn in a reasonable amount of time. And I feel like we know and respect each other so I feel confident that these rotating months will be filled with good, interesting selections.

If for some reason it doesn’t work well enough, we can always revert back to all regular categories any time. The lottery month that was coming up in August anyway is a perfect month to begin, so we’ll replace with it with a rotating selections month and consider it our first trial month and see how it goes.

The idea is for these months to be comfortable, fun months for members; I want everyone to feel like it’s simply part of the club to have a turn at some point, and no big deal since everyone will have a go, and trust that the atmosphere in the club will be to treat each person’s rotating selections nominations with positivity and respect.

The plan hinges on participation. Are you willing to participate in the rotating selections? I’d like to get an idea of how everyone feels about this (and I’m hoping this sounds interesting and exciting to all of you). We’ll still have six months for different categories as well, but I see this as sort of an evolution for our club. So, what say you?
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