I’m not unsociable. I am chatty. Sure, I’m a bit prim. My idea of fun is going to the library, or reading Juvenal in Latin with my husband at Cafe Diem, a coffeehouse in Ames.
I do think my diversions are comical. Who in this day and age has a Latin club?
And I belong to many other book clubs, too, because I’m kind of geeky.
My “real-life” book club is currently reading Olive Higgins Prouty’s Now, Voyager (in the Femmes Fatales series at the Feminist Press).
I also love online book groups, and have read dozens (literally) of Trollope’s books for groups. But for the next few months, many excellent groups are reading books I’ve already read. For instance,
- Ellen Moody’s Trollope19thCStudies group at Yahoo Groups is reading Anna Karenina. I love this brilliant novel, but have already reread it this year, and have posted about it at this blog seven times.
- The Inimitable-Boz group at Yahoo Groups is reading Bleak House, my favorite Dickens novel, which I have read at least seven times.
- The European Literature in Translation group at Goodreads recently read Robert Musil’s The Man Without Qualites, Vol. 1 and Vol. 2. Unfortunately, I joined too late. They are currently reading Balzac’s Grand Illusions, which I have read three times and blogged about once. And in October they’re reading Celine’s Journey into Night, which I’ve also read.
- Blogger readalongs are problematic for me, because so often they discuss books I’ve already read. Several bloggers read Galsworthy’s The Forsyte Saga, all three trilogies, a few years ago. It’s not that I’m not crazy about Galsworthy, but I’ve read the saga three times.
- I do participate in Women in Translation Month (August), an annual event celebrated by booksellers, librarians, reviewers, publishers, bloggers, and journalists. Only 30% of new books in English translation are by women. And so we try to read women writers.
But I may participate in Emily Asher-Perrin’s Dune reread at Tor (the science fiction site). I reread Dune last year (a classic), and the group is now on the third book, Children of Dune.
Please let me know of other good online book groups. The ones I mentioned are excellent.
Is BookTube the Next Worst Thing?
The very good blogger, I Prefer Reading, mentioned BookTube before she went on break last spring.
Well, I love I Prefer Reading, but BookTube is not for me. I couldn’t find anything! My heart sank as I watched monotonous videos that make PBS look like action films. BookTube is like very, very bad TV. The “vloggers” ramble, there is often no script, and obviously no editing. It’s Narcissist City!
The sincerity is evident, but the segments are too long: eight to twelve minutes of babbling. My advice: Cut the first three or four minutes and get straight to the books. And, if you’re chatting about seven books (and seven is the magic number in “vlogs” about “Favorite Books of the Year So Far”), limit the chat to 30 seconds per book. Let your model be the PBS “Summer Reading” interview with writers and bookstore owners Louise Erdrich and Emma Straub, who recommend 19 books in eight minutes. Sure, Jeffrey Brown asks a few questions, but both these writers are very well prepared.
Here’s an excerpt from the superb PBS transcript of this superb video, which you can watch here:
LOUISE ERDRICH: I don’t think people usually take poetry to the beach to read, but this book has been sold by its cover for quite some time.
JEFFREY BROWN: And we should say, it’s called “When My Brother Was an Aztec,” right, by Natalie Diaz.
LOUISE ERDRICH: It is.
Natalie Diaz is a powerhouse of a writer. And this book is a wild ride. It has headlong rushes of ecstatic, beautiful language, small details about life on Mojave Reservation. Natalie Diaz is Mojave.
And this is set in Arizona mainly, but it’s also, of course, set in her heart and her head. And there’s a sensibility that is so dark, but so funny. It’s just such a rich, compelling piece of literature. You know, it’s just the kind of book that you want to live with each poem for a while.
I’ve got it on reserve at the library.
I have to admit that I wouldn’t be reading Latin, but reading in cafes is one of my favourite things to do. In fact I will be indulging myself later this morning. I also love my two real life book groups but have never got on very well with online groups. However, the ones you mention are new to me so I may drop by and see how they are doing. I wish I’d known about the Galsworthy read along. I have been trying to find time to re-read the saga for at least the past decade, not having read it since the early 1970s. That might have been the final prod I needed.
I love cafes!
There are so many online groups, some good, some bad. If you browse at Goodreads, Yahoo groups, etc., you might find something you like. The two Yahoo groups I mentioned have been around for years, and I do try to keep up with their posts! As for the blogger readalongs, I don’t even know who organized the Galsworthy group!
I don’t spend much time on BookTube because I tend to find that kind of thing distracting – I’d rather just read a blogger’s thoughts. Plus the hauls can be dangerous… As for book groups, I dip in when I feel like it or it can all go horribly wrong for me. Wish I’d known about the Musil, though – I keep feeling as if I should read it!
One day I’ll read the Musil! I do like bloggers’ voices more than bloggers.
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Thank you for these good suggestions (and on my listserv too). I didn’t know about European Literature in Translation at Good Reads or Women in Translation Month. If you have any URLS to share which would lead me to subscribe, I’d be grateful. “One cannot have too many holds on happiness” saith Jane through Henry Tilney.
Here’s a link to an article about Women in Translation:
And you can find the European lit group in the community groups section of Goodreads.
I miss Readerville. It could get a bit snarky at times but I discovered so many good books there. New Louise Erdrich novel out soon – can’t wait!
Oh my goodness! I remember Readerville. That was an excellent site. I found out about many books there, and writers also posted comments. There is nothing like that anymore, to my knowledge.
On Thu, Aug 31, 2017 at 7:50 PM, mirabile dictu wrote: