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How about a MetaFilter book club?
November 14, 2001 1:48 PM   Subscribe

A thought inspired by the PJ O'Rourke thread. How about a MetaFilter book club? [more]
posted by jpoulos to Feature Requests at 1:48 PM (76 comments total)

We could dicuss possible choices/announce the book here (with Matt's permission) or on Jerry Kindall's MeFi Projects list (again, with his permission), then devote a single thread to the discussion at the end of the month. Would anyone else be interested? I know I could use a kick in the ass to read more.

Or is this too far from MeFi's stated goals?
posted by jpoulos at 1:48 PM on November 14, 2001


No Oprah titles, and I might be interested.
posted by msacheson at 1:58 PM on November 14, 2001


I'm all for it. Also CDs and software, as was suggested.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 2:00 PM on November 14, 2001


great idea.
posted by modofo at 2:07 PM on November 14, 2001


Do not mock The Oprah.
posted by ColdChef at 2:08 PM on November 14, 2001


Sounds like a fine idea.
posted by mattpfeff at 2:12 PM on November 14, 2001


Me Too!!
Although I can't promise to read any worthy books.
posted by Catch at 2:19 PM on November 14, 2001


mock The Oprah, mock The Oprah
posted by y2karl at 2:33 PM on November 14, 2001


Me too too. Do we all read the same book, or do we all read different books and, you know, report on 'em?
posted by UncleFes at 2:34 PM on November 14, 2001


But not Margaret Wise Brown
posted by y2karl at 2:35 PM on November 14, 2001


I'm warning you: The Oprah hears all.
posted by ColdChef at 2:38 PM on November 14, 2001


Is Encyclopedia Brown ok?

Fine idea.
posted by gleuschk at 2:38 PM on November 14, 2001


ooh, i wanna play.
posted by sugarfish at 2:39 PM on November 14, 2001


Fight the Oprah! Do not - I repeat, do NOT - "Remember Your Spirit."

At the same time, isn't it interesting that all American neo-Gaia mother-figures are black women? That's kind of cool, in a weird Joseph Campbell way.
posted by UncleFes at 2:44 PM on November 14, 2001


Do we all read the same book, or do we all read different books and, you know, report on 'em?

the same.

Is Encyclopedia Brown ok?

I've, like, so read them all already... Besides, the perp always turns out to be Bugs Meany.
posted by jpoulos at 2:45 PM on November 14, 2001


I am so in on this.
posted by smich at 2:49 PM on November 14, 2001


Here are some immediate questions that come to mind:
1. Who chooses the book?
2. Who moderates?
3. What kind of time period are we given (do we go chapter by chapter or one big party at the end)?
4. Or, as Jpoulos suggested, is this better off on another site?
posted by ColdChef at 2:49 PM on November 14, 2001


"But not Margaret Wise Brown"
*Sulk*
posted by Catch at 2:49 PM on November 14, 2001


1. Who chooses the book?

Popular vote. We list a few selections, and everyone weighs in at a certain time. Most votes wins.

2. Who moderates?

No one, or to say, everyone is responsible for their own comments. Aholes get ejected.

3. What kind of time period are we given (do we go chapter by chapter or one big party at the end)?


I suspect there's a lot of fast readers here: week?

4. Or, as Jpoulos suggested, is this better off on another site?

Maybe. Probably. Who's got a site?
posted by UncleFes at 2:54 PM on November 14, 2001


do we go chapter by chapter or one big party at the end?

big party, I think

posted by UncleFes at 2:55 PM on November 14, 2001


If you're interested in this sort of thing, keep an eye on (a site some friends and I do called) randomWalks books where we'll be discussing the collected Palestine by Joe Sacco as soon as it's published and available for purchase. (Yes it's a comic but we usually read books without pictures.)
posted by sudama at 2:56 PM on November 14, 2001


Count me in.
posted by eyeballkid at 3:10 PM on November 14, 2001


I'm in. Miguel, don't you have one? It'd be kind of fun to have very long discussions and ask somewhat random questions there. (tee-hee).


posted by thekorruptor at 3:11 PM on November 14, 2001


Oprah the Mok?

Sure, I'd be up for it. But there's no way in hell I'm reading the goddam Horse Whisperer or Bridges of Madison County.

*and no books that make me all weepy either*
posted by Kafkaesque at 3:28 PM on November 14, 2001


OK, everyone load this and we'll be ready to start.
posted by holloway at 3:28 PM on November 14, 2001


In.

I dunno about a week time-frame, though. Every other week, maybe?
posted by Shadowkeeper at 3:28 PM on November 14, 2001


How about a separate site / background color for books and CD discussions: MetaMedia. Or is that name as nauseating as I think it is?
posted by dlewis at 3:32 PM on November 14, 2001


MeFi has an IRC server, right? Does it have to be a posted thread or are we talking real time conversation?

posted by eyeballkid at 3:34 PM on November 14, 2001


So who's going first? (*waves hand eagerly*) I'd like to know if anyone enjoyed Neil Gaiman's American Gods besides me, despite the sloppy editing? It sure made me brush up on my Norse mythology.
posted by Lynsey at 3:35 PM on November 14, 2001


Lynsey: I did. I think it was his best yet. Nice and dark. Usually he keeps the undertones dark and the surface bright. He almost went straight noir this time.
posted by eyeballkid at 3:40 PM on November 14, 2001


I'm totally in. I have a load of spare server space I could donate as a subdomain from my site, but would need others to code/design the thing.

Or, if Matt wanted to host it as part of MeFi and just use some of my space ... dunno, not technical (gee, can you tell?) so willing to donate, but not sure what the best way is.

posted by cyniczny at 3:56 PM on November 14, 2001


I'd certainly be interested in doing it. I've got server space for hosting of booklists and question lists, but nothing, sadly, for discussion.
posted by Electric Elf at 4:20 PM on November 14, 2001


If the books are set up to be bought online (through Amazon), be sure to include MetaFilter as an associate in the URL - if Matt has such a thing set up. That way book purchases can help fund the forum that spawned the club, etc.
posted by kokogiak at 4:31 PM on November 14, 2001


Let's start with Pat The Bunny.

The feel-good book of the summer!

I read American Gods, but isn't it cheating to suggest a book you've already read? I guess someone will have read any book we pick.....
posted by Kafkaesque at 4:36 PM on November 14, 2001


Geek Love. Samples available at Amazon.
posted by raaka at 4:44 PM on November 14, 2001


If someone has server space with PHP and mySQL I've got easy to use discussion code people are welcome to. No threading though.

Other alternatives, for a threaded Perl discussion site would be Ben Brown's Discuss (he has an RSS feed, too, which could be useful. Plus threading).
posted by cCranium at 4:46 PM on November 14, 2001


What about The Corrections -- that book that didn't wind up on Oprah. Anyone read that? (I don't know a thing about it.)
posted by Shadowkeeper at 5:03 PM on November 14, 2001


Great idea, jpoulos. I'm very much in, but it may be a little tricky for me to get the books in question where I am, so a little lead time would be great to track down a copy.

cCranium - I immediately thought about your code - I was going to go ask you about it as soon as I'd put in my two bits here!

Folks, his thingo would be perfect - both for ongoing and Big Party scenarios! No threading is Good, imho.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:05 PM on November 14, 2001


MetaLiteratti sounds like a fantastic idea... Always wanted to know what sort of books you people read anyways. And it sounds like we've got a good number of participants.
posted by j.edwards at 5:54 PM on November 14, 2001


All fun and games till the first a-hole comes in to the thread and gives away the ending (yes it will happen, yes I am cynical).
posted by geoff. at 6:45 PM on November 14, 2001


Catch, you misunderstand-- Mock the Oprah, but not Margaret Wise Brown...



I forgot to mention Margaret Wise Brown and didn't see the UnclFes in between interpolation. But mock the Oprah, mock The Oprah, mock mock mock The Oprah....
posted by y2karl at 7:07 PM on November 14, 2001


"The shareef don't like it
Mockin' the Oprah
Mock the Oprah
The shareef don't like it
Mockin' the Oprah
Mock the Oprah

By order of the prophet
We ban that book by Franzen
Degenerate the faithful
With that crazy Oprah sound"
posted by ColdChef at 7:24 PM on November 14, 2001


you need to form a core membership that use encryption to relay articles, tracking stats, cross referenced semiotic statecraft....a clubhouse...Las Vegas. No, Reno. We need ross periot as "our meaner dog" and brong along Bill. he likes the white...
"Filter" would be my title selection.
posted by clavdivs at 7:59 PM on November 14, 2001


american gods was definitely a good read. one thing i like about gaiman's works is the attention he puts into researching for background material. especially with sandman/mononoke hime/american gods. i think i still liked neverwhere and stardust better though. if i could give you reasons why, i'd tell ya......

**spoiler***
i still can't believe that i didn't pick up on Low Key=Loki, until like the middle of the book. knowing what the plot was all about, i should've spotted that immediately.
posted by lotsofno at 7:59 PM on November 14, 2001


iiiiii wanna work the lasers
oo
---
posted by clavdivs at 8:00 PM on November 14, 2001


ok, clav. you can work the lasers....
posted by jpoulos at 8:15 PM on November 14, 2001


OK. Talks are underway to secure the server space and bandwidth. I'll work on a registration form--at least to set up a mailing list for more info.

Any thoughts on how this should be administered? I agree that it should be self-moderating (that's the MeFi way, after all) as far as the actual discussions are concerned. But what about administering the site itself? Is a single administrator the way to go? Or do others want to be involved on the back end? I started this thread, but I'm looking at this as MeFi's baby--not necessarily my own. I'm glad to design and administer alone, but if anyone has any interest in working on it, let me know.

I'm interested in hearing mathowie's thoughts on this. I don't want to take advantage of MeFi to promote a separate project--which is really what this would be, if we take it to another server.

So, the basic questions are:
1. Should this spin off from MeFi, or is a monthly (weekly? bi-weekly?) informal MetaTalk-based discussion sufficient?
2. If it should spin off, who wants to help on the back-end?or is that "too many cooks" aphorism true?
3. Who wants to work the lasers? Oh, wait, we answered that one already...
posted by jpoulos at 8:54 PM on November 14, 2001


I'm looking at this as MeFi's baby

I wouldn't...

I'm interested in hearing mathowie's thoughts on this. I don't want to take advantage of MeFi to promote a separate project--which is really what this would be, if we take it to another server.

Matt has often said that he doesn't want to turn MeFi into a hub of a bunch of smaller sites. His server as we know is maxed out and what's likely to be a high discussion area as people dig into a single topic for weeks at a time probably isn't high on his list of things to do.

Now, I'm not Matt and I don't claim to speak for him, just to repeat things he's expressed in the past. He may love the idea and add it to the MeFi network, but if you want to talk about the project I think it is best to just start it, leaving Matt with the option of hoping in whenever he cares to.
posted by cCranium at 9:32 PM on November 14, 2001


Thanks y2karl, now I'm happy again.
You get my second-best smile.

jpoulos: as for too many cooks....whatever happened to PHP Mefi?
posted by Catch at 9:34 PM on November 14, 2001


I want in. I favor one book a month, in part so that reading for MetaBook doesn`t eat all of my reading time.

I could work on the back end stuff if you taught me all of the stuff that`s required.....


posted by chiheisen at 11:48 PM on November 14, 2001


If clav gets to work the lasers, can I at least have the keys to the Giant Killer Robots once in a while?
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:49 AM on November 15, 2001


the only expansion i can see is akin to ticket stub project. ya cant have MeFi job board, book board, chat board, essay board, picture board, mortar board, bored readers in the board room....or could you...I do have a buzz word though...kiosk. I keep thinking of Ann Arbors campus...kiosk. A kiosk like system could work. but coherence, keeping the commentary out of the business...very hard. Stavros...you can work the killer JONGBOT.
posted by clavdivs at 8:13 AM on November 15, 2001


I think clav should pick the books.
posted by Shadowkeeper at 11:54 AM on November 15, 2001


I'm interested in hearing mathowie's thoughts on this. I don't want to take advantage of MeFi to promote a separate project--which is really what this would be, if we take it to another server.

I would consider doing it here, but I don't know how exactly to incorporate it into the site. Where is should be linked to and whatnot.

I'm playing with ben brown's discuss code right now, to see if I can tap into the existing user database we all use here. I'll report back later today if I can get it working.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 12:17 PM on November 15, 2001


...I'm also open to someone doing it offsite.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 12:18 PM on November 15, 2001


but the Jongbot's afraid of flying!

Try the Jungbot instead. It's archetypal and has kung-fu grip.

I'll be at the controls of Bungbot – lovable boozy jester from the Wizard if Id before it got all born-again and creepy.

Possibly stopping every few minutes to hang out with Bongbot.
posted by Kafkaesque at 12:21 PM on November 15, 2001


the roving MAOCAM is up...and oh so buoyant.
posted by clavdivs at 12:40 PM on November 15, 2001


This is a great idea.

all hail jpoulos!!!

Perhaps this is old hat to the rest of you, but I have just started The Amazing Adventure of Kavalier and Clay and am thoroughly enjoying it. Just a suggestion.
posted by edlark at 5:04 PM on November 15, 2001


Also, one book per month would be good for me as well. I'm doing the college thing at night and have to squeeze the non-class related stuff into the small amount of time left after the assigned stuff.
posted by edlark at 5:06 PM on November 15, 2001


Great idea, and yes, one a month sounds like a good speed. I mean, I could handle one a day, but there, uh, might be some out there, who, uh...

How 'bout The Cold Six Thousand? Oh wait, that's selfish, we'd have to start with American Tabloid.
posted by D at 8:59 PM on November 15, 2001


Wouldn't it help to post a First Chapter of the book we're going to read? People could get a taste of it, decide whether it was worth buying - first chapters might also be used to actually decide what books we want to read and discuss. If it's to be Jonathan Franzen's book, for instance, here's the first chapter, from the NYT, free reg.required.
Ideally. given that a lot of users won't want to - or be able to - buy a book, for financial or geographical reasons, I suggest we should choose classics or at least books which are available on the web. There's enough really good stuff at sites like Perseus(for real classics!) or Project Gutenberg to last us several lifetimes...
This would be cheaper, more practical, more democratic - and more fun too, IMO.

posted by MiguelCardoso at 2:24 AM on November 16, 2001


Well, there are secret sources where piratical literati can find all the Good Book Lovin' they need, in digital form.

Not that I'd so flagrantly ignore copyright law, me. No way, Jose.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 2:51 AM on November 16, 2001


Well, Miguel, while I will certainly read stuff from Gutenberg and discuss it with you, I think for a book club it would be interesting to read things that people haven't read before, and of course many arguments could be brought up to indicate that not everyone (myself included) has read the classics in general, I think it might be more universally interesting (and participation would hence be more diverse) if we read new books... Besides, otherwise I'll be stuck reading Stepniak 'til the cows come home and will never get to any new books at all...

First Chapters could be a sticky issue, if we couldn't find them online posting them ourselves is a mess I'd rather not get into... But I still really hope it happens. My first inappropriate nomination? Madness and Modernism. 1994, but still a ripping good time.

I'd be really pleased if the dream didn't die! Please?
posted by j.edwards at 3:00 AM on November 16, 2001


Where? Where? Where? No, no need to pirate anything. Speaking of which... Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels is an obvious candidate. More people have heard or got the wrong impression about it than have actually read it. For anyone interested in politics - or human nature - it justs gets better and more topical with every reading. Funny, profound, very well written, inspiring...just about perfect.His A Modest Proposal, also brilliant and also(I think)online, was recently mentioned a lot here at MetaFilter and would also make a fine selection.
j.edwards: I agree, but I still think access is important if it's not to become too cliquey. As for "1994, but still a good read", it sort of implies good reads tend to be recently published books, which is just not true, son. ;-)

posted by MiguelCardoso at 3:13 AM on November 16, 2001


I was thinking more along the lines of Chris Locke's new book, Gonzo Marketing : Winning Through Worst Practices....Rageboy=My Hero, sorta.

(Which reminds me of a Front Page Post I wanted to craft about his BlogSpace idea, but I got to drunk and went on a snarf run instead, and we all know where that ended up.)
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:32 AM on November 16, 2001


(ya know, you could borrow the book from a library if you didn't want to buy it. just reminding you...)

I'm in. One book a month is my suggestion, though that carries zero weight, I know.

BTW, edlark, Kavalier & Klay is spectacular; have fun with it. When you're done, read this interview with Chabon (whom I've met; he's so bloody nice, good-looking, talented and rich you want to punch him), but wait until you're done with the book.
posted by arco at 8:53 AM on November 16, 2001


(ya know, you could borrow the book from a library if you didn't want to buy it. just reminding you...)

I could, arco, except for the fact that I live in Korea, and there are no public libraries for books in Korean, never mind English.

And damn few bookstores that sell English language books, too.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:26 AM on November 16, 2001


Ahhh, I stand corrected, Mr. Wonderchicken. Still, I think many people who have access to libraries with books in English (or, well, libaries period) tend to forget about them, then complain about how expensive reading can be. But I understand your situation (and that of others in non-English-speaking locales), particularly in relation to this idea.
posted by arco at 10:28 AM on November 16, 2001


I'm open to doing a weekly mefi-books e-mail, like the one i already do for new Web projects. Basically the idea is you'd provide title and author and a 50-100 word capsule review. Might even open it up to things like concerts.

Same with music, I'll pop in over on that thread.
posted by kindall at 4:03 PM on November 16, 2001


for "concerts" read "magazine articles."
posted by kindall at 4:03 PM on November 16, 2001


As a recent kindall (freeloading) subscriber - MeFi projects rule - I cannot commend his suggestion enough. Hey, when there's a minor hitch, you immediately get a new email putting everything right. Oh yes. It's that good. A natural, if he is generous enough to take it on, IMO. Thanks, kindall - what was that old SNL Billy Crystal line: "It's better to look mahvellous than to feel mahvellous"? :?
posted by MiguelCardoso at 4:12 PM on November 16, 2001


What's going on with this? Has everyone forgotten aboot it?
posted by D at 9:41 PM on November 24, 2001


'twould seem so. Poop.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:20 PM on November 30, 2001


That's a darn shame.
posted by j.edwards at 12:20 PM on December 5, 2001


Anyone?

I emailed jpoulos about this and got no response, which I guess means idea = dead.
posted by Shadowkeeper at 5:05 PM on December 14, 2001


When did you email me, Shadow? I never saw it.

Yeah, I haven't done anything with this. Please feel free to pelt me with vegetables. Whenever I start thinking it through, I arrive at the conclusion that a Yahoo! Group called "MeFi book club" would suffice.
posted by jpoulos at 11:03 AM on December 16, 2001


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