Monday, July 14, 2008

A Book Club for Book Worms

So, recently (within the past two hours) I've been thinking that I need to participate in a book club group that meets in real life. A bona fide book club that doesn't just read whatever Oprah recommends, and isn't just a bunch of friends getting together to drink iced lattes and pretend they're discussing books.

I used to be in a book club at church, we mostly read Christian non-fiction, but once (when we were feeling really adventurous) we read Harry Potter and the Sorcer's Stone to see what all the hullabaloo from Christians was about. All in all, not so much to be hullabaloo-ing about. Even though that book club had a limited genre from which to select, I enjoyed getting together once a month with other people who liked to read and talk about the book.

I went to the Barnes & Noble book club about New Moon from the Twilight Saga, and I'll be going back next week for the discussion of Eclipse, but mostly I do that to get a Twilight fix. There don't seem to be many others who read the book very intently (looking for imagery and/or symbolism, or to critique the author's writing and/or character development).

I did a little searching and found that my local library has a monthly book discussion. It's a bit late to read the book for July's meeting, but I think I'm going to go for the next few discussions that are planned. Here's what we'll be chewing on:

Is there anybody else out there who participates in book clubs? Wish they had a book discussion group? Anybody have experience starting their own?

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Perfect Book Club

So, a couple of weeks ago I went to a book club at my local Barnes & Noble for Stephenie Meyer's book New Moon, book 2 of 4 in the Twilight Saga. I was apprehensive because 1) I was the first person there, thinking I would be forced to have an awkward/intimate conversation with the employee who is the discussion moderator; and 2) I was fearful that the only others to show up would be some 13-year-old girls. Anyway, there ended up being a good mix (at 29, I was neither the youngest nor the oldest there)--the teenagers (probably more like 14 and 16) didn't say much because I don't think they've digested the books beyond the "The vampire is so hot" level, but the other discussion was good. I'm planning to go back for the discussion of Eclipse on July 24.

On a related note, there's an awesome blog, Film Experience (see link at right), that I frequently visit in a long-time-listener-first-time-caller kind of way. The blogger, Nathaniel, is so wildly conversant on all things film-related that I'm intimidated by him and have a cyber-crush on him.

Anyway, he's got a book club going where you read a book and consider who you would cast for the characters if it were being adapted to a film (considering age/physical description, characterization/acting abilities). I'm going to participate in the next book club "discussion" of Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris.

Anybody else participate in a good book club?

It's Time For A... review! I tout this blog as a review of things culturally-related (tedium of pop culture to haute couture), so I need to get some more literature rocking around on here. [Also, Liam's Alternate Reality today asked about an "under-the-radar" book that you'd recommend to people and it got me thinking.]

I finished The Host at 3:30 a.m. (EST) on Wednesday morning; I read so late into the morning because once the book really ramped up, at the last 150-or-so pages, I couldn't stop, the story was so engaging. I found this book to be good, with good character development that could appeal to a wide audience. It's a science-fiction story with an alien invasion of Earth (in addition to multiple other "planets"). There's an awesome underground resistance movement from a cell of humans, and all kinds of business breaks loose when an alien/soul defect to the human alliance. There's also romance written in for those who don't think they'd like a typical sci-fi book, but it's tame and not the over-arching issue of the book, rather just sort of a side story to draw in more female readership.

Here's a review of The Host that I found from Entertainment Weekly.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Great Quote

So, I'm reading 1984 by George Orwell and came across the best quote in the book:

"Until they become conscious they will never rebel, and until after they have rebelled they cannot become conscious," Written by the character Winston (p. 61)

Nice. I love dystopic literature. Here's a citation for the text, lest I be sued:

  1. Orwell, G. (1949). 1984. New York: New American Library.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

A "New" Phenomenon

So, quite recently I became aware that there was a whole world of book publishing of which I was ridiculously unaware. Granted, I've seen Bridget Jones's Diary, and I knew there was a segment of the economy that was responsible for putting a bunch of words on paper, binding them together, and selling them. None the less, I read this article in Slate that talked about book packaging... it's like the "seedy underbelly" of publishing.

I stumbled on this article because I've been trying to read everything I could get my hands on about the escapade that Kaavya Viswanathan took Little, Brown on with her high school hijinks of a $500K advance and plagiarism.

What's amazing to me is that I scan the (literally) scads of books that are in book stores around town and wonder how any book doesn't get published. Also, owing to the fact that I've consumed a fair amount of "chick lit," I know there's a lot of crap out there that isn't that good, but is getting published. How does that coincide with authors talking about how hard it is to get published?

Monday, July 7, 2008

In Love With My Ears

So, for a while I've been wanting to see the film Into the Wild, but decided I'd need to read the book before-hand (I'm kind of a stickler on that whole read the book before you see the movie situation). I picked up the book at B&N, read the Author's Note (which summarizes the events of the life/death of Chris McCandless, also known as Alexander Supertramp) aloud to my sister. She thought it seemed like an engaging story (she's been touched for a while with a bit of the wanderlust herself) and suggested that we keep the book in the car and read it aloud before watching the film.

We made it through like four chapters of my stumbling over all the pronunciations of the Alaskan names and the author's superfluous adjectives, and then we decided to get the book on CD and listen to it in the car. This book, although I'm incensed at how obtuse this boy's parents were and how narcissistic Chris was, is really good. We're on chapter nine and really enjoying it... I think it's fueling our desire to see the film, the cinematography alone will be worth it (adding to the fact that there were reportedly some knock-out performances that were nominated for multiple awards this past year).

Anybody else have any suggestions for books that were as good on audio as they were in print?

Friday, July 4, 2008

A Need for Books

I have a friend, Jamie, who lives in Knoxville, TN, that I've been pestering to read the first book in the Twilight Saga. I did a quick web search and found a link for this awesome used book store in Knoxville--McKay Books. I'm totally jealous... it looks like the kind of place I could get lost in for hours.

Then I did a web search and found some pretty cool-looking used book stores in the central Indiana area (within an hour of the city) such as the Uncommon Corner Book Store, Bookmamas, and Forgotten Treasures Book Shop.

I usually shop at the Half-Price Book Store on the south side of Indianapolis. Anybody else (including the huge numbers of Indiana bloggers) know of other great used book stores?

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Watching a Genius at Work

David Sedaris is, in my mind, kind of a genius. I read Me Talk Pretty One Day and absolutely loved it. It was hilarious! (Note the use of the exclamation point.) However, then I started reading Naked, which had a much darker tone, and couldn't quite force myself to make it all the way through.

None the less, I still find him to be a genius. He has a new book that came out on June 3, When You Are Engulfed in Flames, and I think I might pick up a copy. In the mean time, enjoy this video clip of him reading an essay he wrote for Esquire Magazine on the Late Show with David Letterman:

Do you have any authors/humorists/comedians that you adore?