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Thread: PH's Book Club - The Risky Democratic Path

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    Member Penguinhunter's Avatar
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    PH's Book Club - The Risky Democratic Path

    I've decided to temporarily limit some of my authoritarian book club powers and let the people debate what books they might like to read and discuss in the future. I'll try to pick something that garners the most support. However, I think it is important that we accept a few things as a group:

    1) You may not want to read what everyone else wants to read in a given cycle. That's okay. You can skip it and ignore the club that round. Or you can read the thread and still contribute. Only part of the discussion is going to be about the details of the book. Without a forum of literary scholars, probably the best discussions we are going to have will be offshoots of the themes and ideas presented. Don't be shy about joining the discussion even if you haven't done your reading.

    2) If this club feels like homework, it will fail. This is related to number 1. Basically, this should be fun and engaging. Don't force yourself to do stuff because you feel a weird obligation to some internet subforum.

    3) We should try to be flexible but work within some boundaries for selecting books. As founder, I strongly suggest we stick to this list. I know not everyone wants to read "classics" but I think that we're most likely to get good discussion from books that have been vetted by hundreds of critics and authors over decades or even centuries. There are one hundred books on that list and they represent some of the most important literature humanity has to offer. I'm sure there's enough there to keep us going for a while. Suggestions from outside this list should be justified and supported by many others.

    4) Someone is still needed to make final decisions about what we read. For now, that's me, but in the future someone else can take that role or there can be a cycle of group leadership. I don't mind.

    5) In the same vein as 4, it would be helpful if someone was willing to start off/lead each discussion. What this means exactly is up to that person. For now this is up to me, and usually I prefer to let everyone put out some general ideas before asking specific questions. However, if guiding questions would be helpful, I'm happy to try to do that for our next discussion as well. After that, we can pick a new group leader or continue along the same path.

    6) Despite the fact that we're discussing supposedly highbrow literature, I'd like to keep it as unpretentious as possible (I hope it's not too late!). If you want to do a micro-analysis of a part of the text, go for it, but I think if we focus on layman's questions like "What did I learn from reading this text?" or "Why was it (un)engaging?" or "Is this genuinely a GREAT work of art?" we'll probably be able to have some interesting conversations.

    Please post thoughts on points 1-6 and suggestions for future books.

  2. #2
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    My nomination is Season of Migration to the North by Tayeb Salih.

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    Global Moderator Polemarch's Avatar
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    I've never read the full text of Don Quixote, so that would be my first nomination. I'm also interested in Kafka, Dostoevsky, or Faulkner.
    We didn't land on Plymouth Rock. Plymouth Rock landed on us.

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    Merry Christmas Dot's Avatar
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    Dead Souls gets my vote It's been on my to-read list for a long time.

    edit: but I'm not unshakeably committed to that vote.

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    libertine librarian sandwitch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Penguinhunter View Post
    My nomination is Season of Migration to the North by Tayeb Salih.
    I've been meaning to re-read that, or did I even finish it before? Either way, I would like to read this book.

    I'm not sure if I can be in charge of anything for the time being, but I'd like to participate.

  6. #6
    <3 gator's Avatar
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    You're still reading off of that list? Cool! So am I. I'm just coming to the end of The Magic Mountain right now.

    My preference at the moment is toward things that are currently on my bookshelf that I've never read, including: Season of Migration to the North, Mrs. Dalloway, Love in the Time of Cholera, The Brothers Karamazov and Dead Souls.

    I've got most of the Greek, Roman and Shakespeare ones too, and I could be persuaded to reread them.

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    Member Penguinhunter's Avatar
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    So, I'll give this a bump but so far it looks like Season of Migration to the North has the most support.

    Quote Originally Posted by gator View Post
    You're still reading off of that list? Cool! So am I. I'm just coming to the end of The Magic Mountain right now.
    Yeah! For my continual self-improvement!

    What book would you say you are most grateful for reading off that list? I think for me it's either Blindness or Independent People, two that I might never have read otherwise but that I found more interesting than some of the more traditional 'classics' on that list.

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    Member Penguinhunter's Avatar
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    Also, for anyone who is considering joining but doesn't want to or can't be bothered to get their hands on less well-known books, I can provide a legal (I think) e-copy of Season of Migration to the North . If this choice is confirmed by votes or by silent acceptance, I'll post a download link if it's okay with the administration here.

    (EDIT: Oops, maybe not quite legal. Anyway, you can find a copy online very easily if you are so inclined.)

  9. #9
    <3 gator's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Penguinhunter View Post
    What book would you say you are most grateful for reading off that list? I think for me it's either Blindness or Independent People, two that I might never have read otherwise but that I found more interesting than some of the more traditional 'classics' on that list.
    For me that's Magic Mountain at the moment. I probably wouldn't have picked it up if it hadn't been on the list. It's been a slow read but I've found it really interesting.

  10. #10
    Member Penguinhunter's Avatar
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    So, it's on. Next book club discussion will be Season of Migration to the North by Tayeb Salih.

    Actually, it's really short (like 130 pages) so we can probably start in a month, or less if no one objects.

    For any fence-sitters, this is a good one to join for! Not much of a time investment to read but still lots to talk about.

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