Book Group Breakup

July 30, 2009 at 2:58 pm | Posted in Book Blather | 8 Comments

This is a bit of a scandalous post.  I feel assured that it’s safe to write, though, because only one person in my book group reads my blog.

What do you do when the people in your group are divided in their reading tastes?

Our group seems to be split into what I’ll call literary and contemporary readers.  It’s a pretty firm split.  When we pick more challenging material, suddenly a large number of the group doesn’t show up for the meeting.  Yet when we’ve chosen things that were more appealing to that part of the group, the other part has found them a bit, well, pedestrian.

It seems like this is an impediment to the marriage of true minds.

What’s frustrating is that this is a really nice group.  Everyone seems to like everyone else, we put on an amazing potluck, and we laugh a lot.  As far as spending a pleasant evening hanging out with a group of girlfriends, it’s great.  It just seems like maybe a book group isn’t the right venue.

The question is, how do we approach this?  We’re actually meeting tonight to choose books for the next several months.  Not everyone will be able to attend for various reasons.  It’s a little fraught, because somebody is going to be disappointed no matter what gets picked.  Do we choose something that the literary crowd will find boring, for the good of the group?  Or do we pick something challenging that the contemporary readers won’t bother to finish, or show up to discuss?  To me it doesn’t seem so much like a matter of being judgmental on the other side as just somewhat incompatible.

What do you think?  Are we on a sure path to disaster and hurt feelings?  If the more literary crowd drifts away or reforms as a different group, will the contemporary crowd continue to meet?  Is it possible to announce a formal split without resentment?  Or should we count on an inevitable scattering of energy and figure a core group will remain a couple of years down the road?  We’ve been together about a year and a half now.  Advice?  Opinions?

Where Do I Get My Books?

July 30, 2009 at 11:17 am | Posted in Book Blather | 8 Comments

I’ve seen this going around and I thought it was interesting, so here goes.  Here is a list of the last 20 books I read and where they came from.

Beloved – Toni Morrison.  Local library.

The Urban Hermit – Sam MacDonald.  Local library.

The Able McLaughlins – Margaret Wilson.  Bought on Amazon after scrounging around for free electronic copy.

Disappearance Diary – Hideo Azume.  Local library.

Many Lives, Many Masters – Brian L. Weiss.  Mom lent me.

Shakespeare Wrote for Money – Nick Hornby.  Neighboring county’s library.

Population, 485 – Michael Perry.  Local library.

Beat the Reaper – Josh Bazell.  Local library.

Why is God Laughing? – Deepak Chopra.  Local library.

The Father of All Things – Tom Bissell.  Local library.

Crimes Against Logic – Jamie Whyte.  San Francisco library.

So Big – Edna Ferber.  Local library.

The City and the City – China Mieville.  Friend’s library copy.

Welcome to Lovecraft – Joe Hill.  Local library.

Weetzie Bat – Francesca Lia Block.  Local library.

The Blue Guide to Indiana – Michael Martone.  San Francisco library.

The Forest of Hands and Teeth – Carrie Ryan.  Friend’s library copy.

The Strain – Guillermo Del Toro.  Local library.

Sheila Levine is Dead and Living in New York – Gail Parent.  San Francisco library.

Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven – Susan Jane Gilman.  Local library.

The Big Skinny – Carol Lay.  Local library.

This is somewhat depressing.  I am pulling from the library systems of at least three counties and using an additional person’s library card.  From this sample it would appear that I only buy 5% of what I read, but in fact it’s far less than that.  Only six of the books I read this year were “mine” and three were mooched.  I only paid full price for two, and one of those was electronic.  So I “bought” 2% of my reading material and paid for .7% of it.

I did buy two books off my list, but those were for gifts, so I’m not sure whether they count.

You may have noticed one thing that’s missing from my list, and that’s ARCs.  I did read an ARC this year, but it wasn’t sent directly to me; it was cadged off the original recipient.  I have an ARC I got from the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program, but I’m in trouble with them because I haven’t read it yet.  I’m in very little danger of having my “reviews” swayed by authors or publishers because I’m such a procrastinator about reading anything in paperback.

My library usage is shameless.  We can check out up to 30 books and have 20 on hold at any given time.  We can also borrow up to three from our SuperSearch system, pulling from neighboring counties.  I am lucky enough to also have access to the San Francisco library, because they will give a card to anyone who lives in California State.  Naturally I make the most of this situation, so I always have those 23 books on hold, typically about 20 checked out, and another 6-8 from SF.  With a bit of organization and a bit more obsession, it’s possible to read all sorts of things without remunerating the deserving artist one bit.

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