Metafilter Book Club October 14, 2009 3:03 PM   Subscribe

What about a Metafilter Book Club?

I just had an idea! I think MeFites are some of the most thoughtful and intelligent people anywhere on the internet, and often after I read a book I'm tempted to solicit others' opinions in a chatfiltery question on AskMefi. But I know that's not allowed, so I end up just furtively searching the archives for random mentions in random threads.

I was surprised to find that nobody has suggested this since 2001. There are cryptic allusions to an ancient yahoo group, but membership restrictions prevented further investigation. Anyway, I hope the intervening 8 years have provided better options than yahoo groups. If anyone knows what those are and could set something up that would be cool. I could do it but I'm more of an idea person.
posted by granted to MetaFilter-Related at 3:03 PM (88 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

I use Yahoo groups for other things and it works perfectly fine. There's also Google Groups. If people are interested enough I can set something up.

Needless to say, this is something I'd be interested in doing. Especially since it's an online thing like this. It leaves it open for multiple book things going at once if people don't think that would be too chaotic.
posted by theichibun at 3:08 PM on October 14, 2009


I have thought for a long time that a subsite like the poor, departed travel site but for books would be great. Trouble is that I don't think that Matt wants to have threads open in perpetuity due to spam issues as there are a lot of books that are evergreen discussion topics.
posted by GuyZero at 3:09 PM on October 14, 2009


Metafilter doesn't have to be the solution to every need.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 3:26 PM on October 14, 2009


What makes you think this is a need?
posted by granted at 3:27 PM on October 14, 2009


This was pretty active for a while, but it's been a couple of years since it had any activity.
posted by jbickers at 3:32 PM on October 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Well, I think it'd be a cool idea. Even if there's not enough interest for the main site, I'd be interested in a MeFite book club offsite.
posted by Nattie at 3:32 PM on October 14, 2009


I am in that Metafilter Librarything group jbickers linked to, and would be happy to participate in that, or a google group, or any other book-discussion-related venture. If we ever all get into Google wave, it sounds like that might work well for book-discussion purposes (but I dunno).
posted by booknerd at 3:40 PM on October 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


The rationale seems pretty clear from granted's post, and your inability to read it means you probably should not be in a book club, Chocolate Pickle. I'd be happier to see it on the main site than on a mailing list (would it be an abuse of MetaTalk? because this seems like the best logical place to me), but it could be fun either way.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 3:41 PM on October 14, 2009 [3 favorites]


Ooh, ooh, please do this!
posted by Quietgal at 3:49 PM on October 14, 2009


Yes, please!
posted by arcticwoman at 4:01 PM on October 14, 2009


MetaFilter is the only solution to my need to make sweet, sweet love to MeFites.
posted by Astro Zombie at 4:02 PM on October 14, 2009 [3 favorites]


You've already violated the first and second rules.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 4:05 PM on October 14, 2009


In the hopes of reviving the LibraryThing group, I have posted a new discussion there. Thanks for bringing this idea up!
posted by jbickers at 4:06 PM on October 14, 2009


ooh, yes!
posted by scody at 4:11 PM on October 14, 2009


You can already hear the result of my lovemaking techniques in the comments in this thread.
posted by Astro Zombie at 4:16 PM on October 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


Yay! Joined the Librarything group.
posted by misha at 4:28 PM on October 14, 2009


I would be into a metafilter book club.
posted by hazyspring at 4:37 PM on October 14, 2009


I'm another vote for the LibraryThing group. LibraryThing's bracket system makes it really easy to link to books in thread, and the forum creates a really dynamic format: there can be conversations about a book, or the group can read a book together, or just generally talk about books all at the same time without people running into each other too much.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 4:51 PM on October 14, 2009


I was in the yahoo group, I'd be happy to try again.
posted by donnagirl at 4:55 PM on October 14, 2009


I would be totally into a metafilter book club.
posted by kylej at 4:57 PM on October 14, 2009


Count me in, as well.
posted by brundlefly at 5:03 PM on October 14, 2009


Only if it's all Atlas Shrugged, all the time.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:05 PM on October 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


Only if it's all Atlas Shrugged, all the time.

No Dianetics? I'm outta here.
posted by electroboy at 5:06 PM on October 14, 2009


+1 excellent idea!
posted by EatTheWeak at 5:07 PM on October 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yes, please.
posted by Sys Rq at 5:11 PM on October 14, 2009


(Alternatively, if some eager person was to start up a bookish not-quite-MeFi site à la MetaChat, I'd be down with that, too.)
posted by Sys Rq at 5:13 PM on October 14, 2009


Yes please.
posted by CwgrlUp at 5:17 PM on October 14, 2009


Yay! This would be SO GREAT! I have the same problem as granted and often find myself furtively searching Metafilter for references to whatever I have just read.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 5:25 PM on October 14, 2009


Yall need to come up with a cool name, then we could have intramural leagues with the other off-sites. SpoFi is always game. MeCha is usually up for anything, and we could get probably convince PoliFi to participate.

Watch out for the MeFights though. They always slip in a couple of ringers.
posted by Liver at 5:47 PM on October 14, 2009


I'm all for it, as long as I don't have to read the actual books, just peruse what other people are saying about them and then dive into the discussion with some half-relevant witticism that deflects the thread and leads to a serious discussion of ... ummm, I don't know, pie?
posted by philip-random at 5:50 PM on October 14, 2009


Yes! Can we trash too not just stuff that makes us (seem) smart?
posted by hydrobatidae at 5:54 PM on October 14, 2009


Smart, I am not.

That should be "Can we read trash too..."
posted by hydrobatidae at 5:55 PM on October 14, 2009


With all these spinoffs (which I think are cool, btw), we need some Metafilter authentication. Maybe MeFi certificates? Metificates?
posted by Salvor Hardin at 6:03 PM on October 14, 2009


As long as we don't have to argue about how fast people read, I'm for this.
posted by odinsdream at 6:23 PM on October 14, 2009


Google Wave seems like it would be a good tool for the book club. It's a little more collaborative than groups or email lists.
posted by infinitefloatingbrains at 6:27 PM on October 14, 2009


Can you provide Google Wave access for all the MeFites who would want to participate?
posted by nowonmai at 6:31 PM on October 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


i love to fart
posted by Damn That Television at 6:34 PM on October 14, 2009


I'm totally in.
posted by thivaia at 6:57 PM on October 14, 2009


me! me! I would like to do this!
posted by gaspode at 7:05 PM on October 14, 2009


I'm in... (but only if it comes with "new book smell")... (Ok.. I'd also accept "vintage pulp/smut smell" and possibly "prison-library-book-missing-last-10-pages-smell")
posted by jmnugent at 7:21 PM on October 14, 2009


Library thing is a mefi profile linkable social app, and yahoo groups does not appear to be. Therefore, I think librarything is the way to go on this. When I have time next month I'll definitely join up.
posted by BrotherCaine at 7:38 PM on October 14, 2009


Can you provide Google Wave access for all the MeFites who would want to participate?

Sadly, no. But it should be released rather soon (though maybe not soon enough to start the book club).
posted by infinitefloatingbrains at 7:42 PM on October 14, 2009


We should use Shelfari instead because it's better.
posted by Jaltcoh at 7:47 PM on October 14, 2009


I'd like to ask granted to stop reading my mind, since I completely independently started working out the technical details of how a MetaFilter book club could be unobtrusively integrated with the rest of the site while driving home from work today. Here's my proposal, which I am happy to personally implement if people think it's useful.
  1. I'd create a special "bookclub" or somesuch MeFi account. It would be setup to have it's MeFi mail be forwarded to some private email account I'd maintain (the email address has to be private to prevent attackers from spoofing the metafilter.com forwarder). Anyone that wanted to join the bookclub would simply send a MeFi mail to that user with the subject "register" and the body containing the email address they'd like to use for book club notifications. Code of my own would poll that email account to detect which users have registered for the book club (unregistering would work similarly). This ensures that only MeFi members can join the book club.
  2. Once a month, the bookclub account would (probably automatically) post a special nomination thread to MetaTalk. Anyone that wanted to nominate a book for the next month's book club would comment to that thread, making the first paragraph of their comment their nomination, formatted however they liked, as long as it began and ended with an asterisk (or something like that). Users would favorite nominations they supported. After 48 hours, code of my own would parse the page, count up nominations and favorites from currently registered users, and email each currently registered user a private link to a webpage showing the top 5 vote getters (again, only counting votes from registered book club members) and letting the users rank them in order of preference, a la instant-runoff voting. After another 48 hours, registered users would be notified of the winner by email. All of this would be explained in the text of the nomination post itself.
  3. There are several options for where book discussion could take place- another MetaTalk thread, LibraryThing, Google Groups, etc. I'm open to suggestions. Hopefully, regular IRL meetups would be a component of this as well.
  4. MetaFilter wins the Nobel Peace Prize.
Does this seem useful/feasible?
posted by gsteff at 7:48 PM on October 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Point 4. only seems feasible if there is an eight year reign of terror by an evil book club first.
posted by BrotherCaine at 7:56 PM on October 14, 2009 [6 favorites]


If I join LibraryThing, do I have to enter in my books kinda deal? I just want to be in a peer pressure situation so that I will read something else other than plays or grants. I would like this very much please.
posted by typewriter at 7:58 PM on October 14, 2009


Count me in.
posted by blucevalo at 8:03 PM on October 14, 2009


I'd be into that.
posted by stray at 8:21 PM on October 14, 2009


Point 4. only seems feasible if there is an eight year reign of terror by an evil book club first.

Well, how long's Oprah been at it?
posted by philip-random at 8:22 PM on October 14, 2009 [10 favorites]


Yes! I like to read books as if it were my profession! Give me books, you booky, book person!
posted by Cold Lurkey at 8:37 PM on October 14, 2009 [7 favorites]


Count me in.
posted by HabeasCorpus at 8:41 PM on October 14, 2009


But seriously ...

My immediate concern is selection process, because I would instantly lose interest if we ended up reading stuff (however worthy) that was getting dealt with elsewhere ad nauseum.

Though I like the process you describe in .2, it's only going to work if people get in there a vigorously argue for their choices, and do so in the light of some kind of guiding context, (mission statement?) ...
posted by philip-random at 8:42 PM on October 14, 2009


Hopefully, regular IRL meetups would be a component of this as well.

Regular IRL meetups as a component would take all the joy out of mefi bookclub for mefites in areas that can't even swing a regular meetup, much less a special booky meetup. If y'all cityfolk want to meetup up anyway, fine, but if that's where the book talk happens, and I just get to look at pics and shoutouts on flickr, that's a lot less fun.
posted by donnagirl at 8:47 PM on October 14, 2009 [4 favorites]


I'm in! I'm in!
posted by zarq at 8:48 PM on October 14, 2009


I would like to give this a try too! Might have to duck in and out dependent on school workload, but that's pretty typical for a book club.
posted by ugf at 9:42 PM on October 14, 2009


I would totally do this. I'd even read the books.
posted by Captain Cardanthian! at 9:46 PM on October 14, 2009


Sounds good to me too.
posted by OolooKitty at 9:47 PM on October 14, 2009


guys look i hae a feelin about this club. it is going to be full of books, yes. so what if you ar eading the books and you say oh gee, i want to d o a numbers for metaTIFILTERand then it is all ok but you used up your bRAINNNNNNS doing books and shit,



what THN
posted by kathrineg at 10:57 PM on October 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


sorry you guys this is a great idea. sorry.
posted by kathrineg at 11:00 PM on October 14, 2009


Totally in. LibraryThing would be cool, but whatever works.
posted by meta87 at 12:09 AM on October 15, 2009


Me!! In! Me in!

also? MEEE!!!
posted by taz at 1:11 AM on October 15, 2009


and, I'd just like to add that if MeFi did add this as a section, it ought to add to the coffers with amazon referrals. Enough to make it worthwhile? I don't know, but I imagine Matt has considered the idea. It would be interesting.
posted by taz at 1:24 AM on October 15, 2009


Oh man. I love books. I love typing in text boxes. Sometimes I can manage to combine the two.

Where do I sign up? (I'm sorry if this seems obvious, but I'm on day 2 of this weird fever and I think it's boiled my brain.)
posted by grapefruitmoon at 3:45 AM on October 15, 2009


Right now we only have the LibraryThing discussion group, grapefruitmoon. I guess we'll see if Matt is interested in a Books section here (he hasn't been totally against it in the past), and if not, whether we want to try to create an offsite bloggy doodad, or just stick with the LibraryThing space (not optimum, to me - if for no other reason than the comment fields don't allow any formatting like italics, bold, etc., plus of course, stuff like categories and tags, and other niceties that would make it a better experience).

Someone here once made bookfilter.com, which is now defunct through lack of participation, I presume. We know it's kind of hard for an offsite offshoot to flourish... but, man. Books. We love books.
posted by taz at 4:04 AM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Basically... the problem with an offsite thing is that there are way fewer eyeballs, so, if you make a post wanting to discuss a particular book, well... chances are pretty low you're going to find many or any people who have read that book, unless it's super popular. So you don't get many/any responses, you begin to lose interest and wander away, forget to check in, etc. The relative paucity of activity (in comparison to metafilter sites with the huge membership) leads to even less activity, and it's a downward spiral. Reading Club activity is okay, but it takes about a month for everybody to read the book, so you really only have chances for relative activity about 12 times a year - but not really, because people get busy around Christmas and other holidays, so in practice you end up discussing about 7 or 8 times a year with a small group... and that's if people are super dedicated. That much activity isn't enough to hold a group together... there's no regular back and forth lively conversation.

I think one thing that would sort of ensure more book conversation generally here, if there were a ReadMe (or whatever) section, is that to ask a book question on AskMe, people have to use their one question for the week. Yikes! What if I lock myself inside my bedroom and need help getting out, but woe! I've wasted my one AskMe question for the week on trying to figure out the ending of "The Terror." So I think people would be pretty willing to take all their book convo and questions and requests for recommendations to the book section. Well, I'm optimistic anyway. Who knows.
posted by taz at 4:27 AM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Very interested in this.
posted by applemeat at 7:17 AM on October 15, 2009


I am in too.

As far as logistics, I dont think Matt will go for an explicitly chatty sub-site, though that would be the best solution as far as getting MeFis to participate. However, if there are a limited number of books to be clubbed then a posting once a month here saying "The MetaFilter group at $SOCALNETWORKINGSITE will be starting to read Watchman in a week, all are welcome to join in." would likely be cool.

I do like the idea of books.metafilter.com where people could suggest a book once a month or so might work, or maybe the projects route where one person needs to make a post, again with a frequency filter, and someone else needs to second it.
posted by shothotbot at 7:45 AM on October 15, 2009


I'm in. I think this does sound like a perfect opportunity to check out google wave, since it sounds like this is exactly what it was built for. We just need to figure out a way to scrounge up enough invites.
posted by craven_morhead at 8:31 AM on October 15, 2009


Wave sounds great for this in theory, but I participated in a wave of about 8 people, and it became slow-loading chaos after 250 messages. I can't imagine a semi-public wave with dozens of people participating. I think we're barking up the wrong tree there, at least for a few more months while Google works out the kinks. Plus, good luck getting everyone invites.
posted by naju at 9:13 AM on October 15, 2009


If it were a subsite, it might be better to set it up so that everyone proposes books, you get a week or so to accumulate enough favorites around your proposal to indicate enough interest to make it official, and then a month later the thread opens to comments for discussion. Instead of having 1 book a month, you have as many books come up as people want to discuss. The only limitation maybe being a week or two timeout to propose a new book if your book isn't 'selected', and a six month timeout if it is. Having a lot of book discussions going on concurrently could be fun during the summer for teachers, and in the winter for the snowbound. It'd also give people a chance to read some more niche selections or genre fiction instead of being forced to adopt the mainstream offerings ( all the larger bookclubs I've seen seem to tend towards some sort of least objectionable average ).
posted by BrotherCaine at 9:43 AM on October 15, 2009


I enthusiastically endorse this idea (though I would like to not sign up for yet another book cataloguing/reviewing site if it's at all possible, as I feel somewhat guilty about my three neglected accounts at sites that are not LibraryThing)!
posted by EvaDestruction at 10:09 AM on October 15, 2009


count me in!!
posted by bahama mama at 10:30 AM on October 15, 2009


Okay, we've got a few new Metafilter threads going on the LibraryThing site, including a nomination thread. Favorites so far: The City and the City, by China Mieville, and Oryx and Crake, by Margaret Atwood.

BrotherCaine, I like your idea of having concurrent book discussions, rather than just one a month. I was planning to open the book thread immediately rather than waiting a month, though--some people can read pretty fast (or may have already read the book).

EvaDestruction: I enthusiastically endorse this idea (though I would like to not sign up for yet another book cataloguing/reviewing site if it's at all possible, as I feel somewhat guilty about my three neglected accounts at sites that are not LibraryThing)!

I understand, but LibraryThing seems pretty well-suited to discussing books specifically. In particular, it has an awesome feature where you can automatically link to a book or author from their name (just add brackets).
posted by russilwvong at 11:52 AM on October 15, 2009


Ooh, I like this. I have too many books in my own list to participate in the actual reading aspect, but I hope that the LT group gets enough traffic for me to follow some of the other book discussions.
posted by phatkitten at 1:47 PM on October 15, 2009


My immediate concern is selection process, because I would instantly lose interest if we ended up reading stuff (however worthy) that was getting dealt with elsewhere ad nauseum.

Amen to that!

But I love the idea, in general. It would be great to work the above issue into the MeFi-ness by focusing on
a) the excellent full-text book/story links posted to the Blue or
b) MeFite-authored books.
Option a) is particularly of interest because it
1) eliminates the access problems for people outside the US/UK/Canada
2) gives us a chance to actually discuss a post's content, when it takes more than an hour to read!

I want to read!
posted by whatzit at 4:09 PM on October 15, 2009


Re-reading the above thread, choosing MeFi-posted full-text selections also gives you a natural place for the eventual discussion: in the thread itself! With a little icon in the post or a sidebar notice, the book club selection is visible and easily accessible to all (MeFi) readers.
posted by whatzit at 4:12 PM on October 15, 2009


Another vote for a MeFi bookclub!! (And although I've as yet resisted joining LibraryThing, I'll do that too, if that's the consensus of the group).
posted by SweetTeaAndABiscuit at 4:27 PM on October 15, 2009


I'm in, with whatever works. I think I even have a Library Thing account...I just got bored cataloging my books and never really did anything with it.
posted by never used baby shoes at 7:31 PM on October 15, 2009


I'm up for this. Huzzah.
posted by mmmbacon at 7:49 PM on October 15, 2009


I'm in as well.
posted by peacheater at 10:02 PM on October 15, 2009


I was planning to open the book thread immediately rather than waiting a month, though--some people can read pretty fast (or may have already read the book).

You'll get better participation by the people who have time to sit down and read the book cover to cover that way, but not so great participation from those who only have time to eke out a chapter a day — they'll feel like the conversation is over before they even finish the book.
posted by BrotherCaine at 10:33 PM on October 15, 2009


Mefi FPPs usually seem to only be tied to things that can be consumed in an hour tops, a book is presumably a little more meaty.
posted by BrotherCaine at 10:35 PM on October 15, 2009


Oh cool! Count me in!
posted by SisterHavana at 11:13 PM on October 15, 2009


Turns out, I can't actually read.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:01 AM on October 16, 2009


Turns out, I can't actually read.

This might be for you.
posted by electroboy at 9:10 AM on October 16, 2009


if someone is counting those who are in, add another.
posted by milestogo at 9:11 AM on October 16, 2009


Okay, over on LibraryThing, we've picked Oryx and Crake, by Margaret Atwood. I've opened a thread to discuss the book, but at BrotherCaine's suggestion, I've also set November 15 as the date when we'll try to sync up to discuss the book, MetaFilter-conversation style. (People are free to post comments earlier, of course.)
posted by russilwvong at 10:06 AM on October 16, 2009


You know who else couldn't read?
posted by minifigs at 1:24 AM on October 20, 2009


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