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Old 01-10-2019, 03:33 AM   #331
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Thanks for the spoiler! You had me worried there for a second.
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Old 01-10-2019, 04:50 AM   #332
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Just listened the the latest episode of Imaginary Worlds podcast and it's an interview with Madeline Miller with readings from Song of Achilles and Circe. They talk about the first then the second (not interspersed) so you could listen to just half if you've read only one of the two.

Personally I've read neither but I feel it's a bit precious to worry about spoilers in Homer!
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Old 01-10-2019, 02:25 PM   #333
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Hey, we could read The Game of Thrones, since it's based on the Wars of the Roses!

Spoiler:
I'm not serious! Anything but that!
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Thanks for the spoiler! You had me worried there for a second.
Oh, I was pretty confident that we didn't need to worry about THAT, at least.
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Old 01-27-2019, 01:40 PM   #334
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It's been a year already!

So I thought I'd look back over our selections, my personal reactions, and the discussions.

My Goodreads ratings on our selections ran the gamut, hitting each star level. They averaged out to 3.25, which was virtually identical to my average rating on the year for all my books which seems impressive to me, given the element of compulsion in the book club whereas I was picking the rest of my books to suit only myself. My favorite book on the year was The Old Man and the Sea, which was stunning. I'm glad I finally read (and enjoyed) The Three Musketeers!

Overall, I think our choices ranged widely, from classic to current, from "issue" to plain old story, from serious to fun, and we were successful at targeting the intersection of quality and appeal. I'm extremely fond of Dazrin's stats, which I find endlessly interesting. On the plus side, fully half our authors were female and one-fourth were people of color. Two choices were non-fiction, one author is LGBT, two authors were Nobelists. While we read mostly novels, we had several works of both speculative fiction and historical fiction. I could wish we'd had more than one non-anglophone work, but translation presents its own issues. We averaged nearly 120 comments per discussion. That's a benchmark that will be hard to sustain, but it's gratifying.

What were other members' highs and lows on the year? Any thoughts on where we should change direction? Where should we stay the course?
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Old 01-27-2019, 02:24 PM   #335
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I'm glad to be able to say I've read The Old Man and the Sea, The Three Musketeers, and The Scarlet Pimpernel (I may or may not have read the latter two previously, perhaps in abridged versions long ago in school). The first two I disliked, and the last I thought was good, but not a big wow.

The Radium Girls and The Great Halifax Explosion provided information about events I knew nothing about.

I skipped two books--the Fry and the LeGuin. If there'd been audiobook versions available at my library, I probably would've forced myself to get through them--but, having followed the comments, I'm quite happy I couldn't borrow them.

I'm lukewarm on The House on the Strand--I wanted to like it more than I did. I hated Never Let Me Go and Dandelion Wine.

My favorites were Passing and Alias Grace, probably because of the strong female characters and the elements of ambiguity. And murder.
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Old 01-27-2019, 03:08 PM   #336
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Let's see. Favourites? Well, The Old Man and the Sea would have been except that I'd read it a couple of years ago. Still powerful, and still giving me new insights, in no small part because of the discussion. Very glad I nominated it. Next up would be Passing and another book nominated that month, The Price of Salt.

Both non-fiction books gave me information about events I knew little or nothing about, and I enjoyed both of them, while recognizing the severe issues with one. Two books were abandoned, though all were at least started. Five were technically re-reads, though only the Hemingway was a recent read.

For me, the best part about the club has not been the books we've actually selected, but the books that we didn't select. Whether it was The Price of Salt, Station X, Between Silk and Cyanide, Fadeout, or To Sir with Love, the books that were nominated (or inspired by the theme) were the real winners for me. I've actually only enjoyed about half of the selected books, but in every month I've found other books that I very much enjoyed.
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Old 01-27-2019, 05:37 PM   #337
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My favourites for the year are Dandelion Wine, Passing and Alias Grace. Close behind are Never Let Me Go which was a reread from a few years ago, and The House on the Strand,also a reread but from a long time ago.

I read all the books we selected, though of course enjoyed some more than others. Like Charlie, I also read some books from the nomination lists. I really enjoy the opportunity to explore books and authors I may not have heard of before, and to go outside my comfort zone at times.

I certainly think we should stay with our themes, at least for the time being. It can be fun thinking of books to fit the theme, and it means we have quite a variety of books from which to choose each month.

I suppose the only thing I would like to see change would be to have more members stay in the discussions for more than just one or maybe two posts. As the month progresses, a number of different ideas get tossed around between those who are still in there, and some extra input would perhaps enrich that ongoing discussion.
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Old 01-28-2019, 03:44 AM   #338
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My preferences haven't really changed since post #310. Since that post I am glad to have revisited The Left Hand of Darkness after so many years, and I did enjoy reading it, but it's not everything I'd hoped it would be when I nominated it. I feel as if the years haven't been as kind to it as they could have been ... or maybe I've just become spoilt for choice.
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Old 01-28-2019, 08:01 AM   #339
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but it's not everything I'd hoped it would be when I nominated it.
Oh, the pressure and responsibility when you've nominated the winner!

I'm not terribly worried about nominating a great book as much as provoking a good discussion. I pick enough duds for my personal reading. Still, I'm always happy to read someone else's nomination! It gets me outside my own tastes and it's not my fault.

That said, I'm curious to see people's take on the past year overall, and not just the individual selections (although I named my own personal favorite). Most of the selections made at least one list, so on that basis we must be doing something right.

And looking forward, what could we do differently, what should we do better? We're set for another half year with our themes, but we can always tweak our approach.
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Old 01-28-2019, 09:38 AM   #340
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I've been happy with the process, but I see the voter numbers have dropped off considerably since the excitement of NLBC's beginnings. Not sure what it means or what (if anything) we can do about it.
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Old 01-29-2019, 10:24 AM   #341
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I've been happy with the process, but I see the voter numbers have dropped off considerably since the excitement of NLBC's beginnings. Not sure what it means or what (if anything) we can do about it.
Well, that's rather the elephant in the corner, isn't it? My knee-jerk reaction is that while more voters would be excellent, it would only be if they stayed to discuss. Or, to put it another way, voting is the least important aspect of participation; people can suggest, nominate, talk about the books or anything else, that it's the conversation that matters, not the popularity contest.

We do discourage voting without a follow-through. Does that put people off? But the purpose of the club is to facilitate a discussion about books. Obviously we all read; this just gives a new and different and fun perspective to one book a month. A poll without a discussion is pointless. And, I'll make it explicit, it's frustrating for regular participants when they see an outcome has been determined by a vote or votes from people who (I hope) read along on their own, but who don't add to the chatter.

I'm glad this came up. One point I've been wanting to make is that regular participants shouldn't feel as if they can't vote because they can't commit to reading all the choices, for whatever reason. Far better for them to influence the outcome, ideally in the direction of something they will read and discuss, than to opt out and end up on the sidelines for the month as a result. Commitment is important, but not if it results in less participation in a given month. Commitment should be seen as commitment overall. We've got a rule of thumb about not showing up for two discussions in close succession if you've voted, which should cover most situations.

But as for encouraging more participation? Any and all suggestions or comments are welcome. In any case, I hope people feel free to drop in when a book or a theme catches their fancy. Why not test the waters?
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Old 01-29-2019, 01:48 PM   #342
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I'm glad this came up. One point I've been wanting to make is that regular participants shouldn't feel as if they can't vote because they can't commit to reading all the choices, for whatever reason. Far better for them to influence the outcome, ideally in the direction of something they will read and discuss, than to opt out and end up on the sidelines for the month as a result. Commitment is important, but not if it results in less participation in a given month. Commitment should be seen as commitment overall. We've got a rule of thumb about not showing up for two discussions in close succession if you've voted, which should cover most situations.
Well, this describes me. I've voted only a few times because there are too many selections that I absolutely do not want to commit to read. So I wait to see how the votes are going, and have voted only if the books I consider impossible are out of the running and if my vote matters in a close race.

Clearly, I'm not all that open-minded about what I read.
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Old 01-29-2019, 04:09 PM   #343
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I wish that voting didn't require discussion. Looking back over the past couple of months, about one third of posters only had two posts or less. And there seems to be a couple at the top who have a significant greater number of posts.

So where are the people who really want a discussion?
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Old 01-29-2019, 04:10 PM   #344
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Oh, I think we all have our no-go areas! Having said that, I’m prepared to have a go at the winner as long as I can get it for a reasonable price, or preferably borrow it from the library.

So I do think we need to continue with the price limit, within reason, to help the show keep on the road.
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Old 01-29-2019, 05:19 PM   #345
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I wish that voting didn't require discussion. Looking back over the past couple of months, about one third of posters only had two posts or less. And there seems to be a couple at the top who have a significant greater number of posts.

So where are the people who really want a discussion?
I don't see the point at all of having a vote without a discussion. Going through all of that for a popularity contest? Why? We've been over this ground so many times before.

As for your second para, I think it's a lot of things. I think the idea of a book club might appeal to some more than the reality of reading the books and showing up. Real life can intervene. There's not the same social suasian as with a real-time, real-life meeting and with pizza, too. The choices are almost by definition going to be a compromise, and some don't want to compromise. I could go on. The short answer, of course, is no discussion, no club. So as long as enough people show up, we can have a club. I wish we could get more interested or encourage more people to more than perfunctory participation, and that's why we're asking. I'm frustrated by your comment which seems only critical and not constructive, especially after you've said in so many words that you're not interested in discussing the books, anyway.

That said, if anyone wants to help influence the outcome but doesn't want to commit, they can always participate in the nomination process.

I'd prefer not to have another discussion of voting as a commitment. I don't think it serves a purpose.
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