Gransnet forums

Books/book club

Book group concept discussion thread

(39 Posts)
ElderlyPerson Tue 14-Sep-21 22:14:32

In the fourth post in the thread

www.gransnet.com/forums/other_subjects/1300942-Interesting-items-that-arise-off-main-topic-in-other-threads

Silverbridge wonders about a book group for people to read a book then discuss it.

How about, to get started, the audiobook of E. M. Forster's The Machine Stops.

There are various versions on YouTube, one of them may be an abridged version.

If people are interested we could have a separate thread for that work and use this thread to discuss the idea of such a book group and choose a book.

FannyCornforth Wed 15-Sep-21 06:46:39

Hello EP
I’m in for that. I’ve got the Audible version which I will listen to, it’s around an hour and a half long.

Lucca Wed 15-Sep-21 07:30:13

Not for me thanks as I am in a real life book club, but I’m sure others will be interested.

FannyCornforth Wed 15-Sep-21 07:33:06

Hi Lucca Which book is up for discussion at the moment?
I’ve never been in a book club. What’s it like? Do you have ‘heated discussions’?

Lucca Wed 15-Sep-21 07:44:58

It’s a smallish group of friends/friends of friends. I won’t say this months book as it would “out “ me if any other person was on this forum!
We never have “heated” discussions. It is interesting though that there is rarely a book which prompts unanimous approval or disapproval (Crawdads being one, as was All the light we cannot see) ! I’m hard to please I admit. There are of course personal preferences, I’m not keen on “fantasy” stuff, one person doesn’t like anything too “smutty” ?
Embarrassing to admit but when choosing our book the number of pages is a first consideration (I have a friend in another book club who says the same).

Jackiest Wed 15-Sep-21 07:45:35

I am in a real life book club as well but this sounds good.

FannyCornforth Book clubs vary, some are really serious and intense. The one I am in is very relaxed. We meet up at a pub once a month have a chat about the book, choose the next book and then chat some more.

Jackiest Wed 15-Sep-21 07:46:27

Forgot to add the link to the book.

youtu.be/ZOr-jb6ElzE

FannyCornforth Wed 15-Sep-21 07:48:02

Thanks Lucca and Jackiest

Silverbridge Wed 15-Sep-21 07:49:47

May I suggest that if we do this we set time constraints:

A discussion start date, one which allows people who wish to participate enough time to buy, borrow, read or listen to the book and frame their thoughts.

A discussion end date so we can wrap it up and move on to another book.

Allow (say) a month from announcing the book to starting the discussion. This way we can hope to encourage enough people to participate at the same time to get a good exchange of views going. A month allows people who wish to borrow from their library, time for it to be ordered and collected.

The Machine Stops is available in all the usual formats: paper book, audio book, Kindle, drama adaptations. Used copies are available from online retailers from £1. New from £2.70.

In the meantime, pose a few questions and ideas that people can think about as they read. There are plenty of online resources to draw on for this particular book.

Select and announce the next book on the same date the discussion for the current one begins.

A separate thread for each new book. Whoever choses the book “manages” the thread to publicise and keep it active and inclusive until the discussion has started and ended.

How does that sound? Over to you EP.

FannyCornforth Wed 15-Sep-21 07:50:02

I’ve just remembered, I have been in a book club.
When I was 10 years old, I recall discussing ‘Fungus the Bogeyman’!

Jackiest Wed 15-Sep-21 07:51:38

My book club is meeting tonight I will suggest ‘Fungus the Bogeyman’ to them. If I buy them all a drink first they may well say yes.

Urmstongran Wed 15-Sep-21 08:07:20

My friend and I started our book club 15 years ago. We meet every 2 months which gives us the necessary space to read our own choices in between meets. So many book clubs I know meet monthly then fizzle out because the reading time doesn’t allow slower or busier readers time to read books individually and hence it becomes too prescriptive for them.

One of our outstanding runaway favourites over the years was ‘The Year of Wonders’ a novel based on the plague in the village of Eyam. ‘Crawdads’ scored well, ‘The Salt Path’, ‘The Diving Bell and the Butterfly’ was a poignant true story as well as Paul Kalanithi’s ‘When Breath Becomes Air’.

I love book club. It introduces me to many books I wouldn’t think of. Just lately however it seems to have slipped into the Richard & Judy best reads which is a bit disappointing as the readers amongst us with more disposable time would get to those anyhow!

Daisymae Wed 15-Sep-21 08:09:06

I would be interested. I'll have a look on Audible.

dragonfly46 Wed 15-Sep-21 08:14:58

I too am in a book group. We meet monthly but discuss the books every 2 months. The meet in between is a social meet in the pub.
We have just read ‘Hamnet’ and *Midnight Library’, they were both enjoyable.

Jackiest Wed 15-Sep-21 08:27:20

Urmstongran
One of our outstanding runaway favourites over the years was ‘The Year of Wonders’ a novel based on the plague in the village of Eyam. ‘Crawdads’ scored well, ‘The Salt Path’, ‘The Diving Bell and the Butterfly’ was a poignant true story as well as Paul Kalanithi’s ‘When Breath Becomes Air’.

Yes we had The Year Of Wonders a couple of months back. I liked it but the ending was weird and all the male characters were bad. I did then look up information about the author and did explain a few things.

The Salt Path was good as well and I keep meaning to read the followup book.

Silverbridge Wed 15-Sep-21 08:34:33

I’ve been a member of a variety of book groups over the last twenty years and they do vary. The better ones (imo) have been where someone takes a light contol of the meeting to steer the discussion not least so that everyone has a chance to speak (something that won’t be a problem in an online discussion) but also to suggest points to discuss e.g. in The Machine Stops

Why is Vashti scared? What does this remind you of in our world?

One of the best discussions was of Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita suggested by someone who had lived behind the Iron Curtain.

From Wiki:

The story concerns a visit by the devil to the officially atheistic Soviet Union. The Master and Margarita combines supernatural elements with satirical dark comedy and Christian philosophy, defying categorization within a single genre. Many critics consider it to be one of the best novels of the 20th century, as well as the foremost of Soviet satires.

It isn’t as heavy going at it might sound!

I am just coming to the end of Ali Smith’s Seasons Quartet Autumn-Summer - they need to be read in that order. I’ve been so engrossed I’ve read four books in five days. Extraordinary writing. Her How to be Both was another book which prompted an interesting discussion. It's two stories in one book. Some versions are printed A then B, others B then A. The order in which you read the stories changes how you interpret what happens. Very clever.

ElderlyPerson Wed 15-Sep-21 09:58:40

Thank you all for your comments.

I used the phrase "book group" so as to avoid ambiguity with the term "book club" as "book club" sometimes means that a commercial company runs a service where a customer pays an upfront subscription and then receives through the post "the club's edition" of some book of the company's choice - and that's it, no discussion or anything like that.

Personally my preference would be for an audiobook that runs for somewhere around and hour to an hour and a half, as otherwise as other things arise I might not get round to listening to a longer version.

I have not listened to The Machine Stops yet - I saw the video about Richard III so I watched that.

I am not in any way opposed to a book group that uses longer hardcopy books, but I just know that unless I got really engrossed that reading it would probably slip down the queue as I have other things that I like to do too.

So maybe we could have two parallel book groups. One based on audiobooks that are available free on YouTube, one based on hardcopy books that people would need to get.

A third possibility is of a group to discuss books that are available in filmed versions free on YouTube, or possibly those on BBC iplayer unless that would restrict people who are not in the United Kingdom as I like to be inclusive and not go with a policy that would be for "most" and marginalise a few people or even just one person.

For example, a movie I watched recently.

www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b0074n82/citizen-kane

Please note the pastiche of The March of Time that is near the start and the amazing song and dance routine.

FannyCornforth Wed 15-Sep-21 10:32:13

Thank you EP
Are you going to start another thread specifically to discuss The Machine Stops; with the words Audio Book Group in the thread title, and perhaps the name of the book?

Silverbridge would you like to start the traditional type of book club, please?
With a book of your choice.
You’re really experienced at this.
I’m happy to take over the reins, if you would like, for the second book.

I used to be a voracious reader, but have really tailed off over the past few years.
It would be great for me to have a gentle kick on the bum to encourage me to read, and to do so in a more rigorous way

Blossoming Wed 15-Sep-21 10:38:51

I joined a book club for people undergoing or post treatment for cancer. Unfortunately all the books they chose were very long and required more concentration and energy than I was able to give. I was disappointed as I thought it would help my recovery. I agree that number of pages is an important consideration.

ElderlyPerson Wed 15-Sep-21 10:54:21

FannyCornforth

Thank you EP
Are you going to start another thread specifically to discuss The Machine Stops; with the words Audio Book Group in the thread title, and perhaps the name of the book?

Silverbridge would you like to start the traditional type of book club, please?
With a book of your choice.
You’re really experienced at this.
I’m happy to take over the reins, if you would like, for the second book.

I used to be a voracious reader, but have really tailed off over the past few years.
It would be great for me to have a gentle kick on the bum to encourage me to read, and to do so in a more rigorous way

Yes, alright FannyCornforth I will start the audio book group. There appears to be two versions. The BBC one and the unabridged one that is longer.

I suppose I should link to both.

But as I have not listened to either yet, apart from the first few minutes, I don't feel that I should be leading the discussion. Do we actually need someone leading the discussion, or does a book group fall to bits unless someone chairs the discussion? Maybe different online in this type of online format than face to face.

FannyCornforth Wed 15-Sep-21 11:04:57

Okay, would you rather me do it, or shall we share it?
If we follow Silverbridge’s guidelines first, and then just see how it goes?
I can’t do links or anything fancy like that, so you will need to do that.
I also agree that we don’t really need a chair as such, just someone who posts regularly (which I certainly do!)
Tell me your thought please EP, it was your idea, so I don’t want to tread on your toes or make you feel that I’ve ‘taken over’ smile

Silverbridge Wed 15-Sep-21 11:08:04

EP Hmm. I think we need to be careful about overcomplicating this.

A book group is one idea allowing participants to access an unabridged version in whichever format they prefer: book, audio, Kindle.

An audio-only book club would be nice idea as it's inclusive for people who may have impaired vision and use adaptive technologies. I don't know how accessible the GN forum is for people with impaired vision. Maybe someone could comment on that.

A 90 minute listen would restrict what could chosen to short stories only so that's something to consider.

I wouldn't be interested in a film-only book club as adaptations are often very far removed from and inferior to the original text. I'd only be interested if the book and film were up for discussion together.

FannyCornforth I'm off out for a while but let me have think and I'll pop back later to see what others have to say.

ElderlyPerson Wed 15-Sep-21 11:17:01

The thread has now been started.

www.gransnet.com/forums/books_book_club/1300959-Audio-Book-Group-The-Machine-Stops

ElderlyPerson Wed 15-Sep-21 11:25:12

Ah, as it happens I went and started the thread and posted the above comment and only then saw the comments by FannyCornforth and Silverbridge.

I have linked to three audiobooks. All have subtitles available and I have mentioned that.

Yes, I am happy for FannyCornforth to take the lead. Indeed I feel that that would be best. Please proceed.

FannyCornforth Wed 15-Sep-21 11:36:40

Hello again
Ok, thank you, I’m not experienced with book clubs but I’ll do my best!
I will now post on the other thread