Oh Meta Book Club, Do You Have a Future? March 2, 2012 9:48 AM   Subscribe

So, shall we continue Meta Book Club? If so, what shall we read after the last book in the sylabus we have been tracking, the Open Yale course on the American Novel since 1945?

For those who don't know, Meta Book Club has been discussing the books on MetaChat since March 2010. The last book in the syllabus, Everything is Illuminated, is up for discussion there on March 16. But what then?

If there are MeFites who want to keep going, it might be desirable to pick a book that has some available online commentary, analogous to the excellent online lectures by Prof. Hungerford for the Open Yale course.
posted by bearwife to MetaFilter-Related at 9:48 AM (38 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

Going Rogue: An American Life
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:23 AM on March 2, 2012

If we chose to read that, someone else will need to organize and moderate the Book Club!
posted by bearwife at 10:26 AM on March 2, 2012 [3 favorites]

What about something less American? Y'know, something a bit more international...to like.... reflect the members?
posted by taff at 10:30 AM on March 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

Sure! We just read the books in the Yale syllabus because this course looked pretty great. I'd be game for reading and discussing any decent book. Already very partial to plenty of non-American writing myself.
posted by bearwife at 10:33 AM on March 2, 2012

Whoa, by coincidence I am reading Everything is Illuminated now. So thank you for posting this, I didn't know about the book club and I will stop in on the 16th and lurk while it's being discussed!
posted by headnsouth at 10:52 AM on March 2, 2012

My favorite let's-all-sit-around-and-talk-about-it book of the last decade-ish is Tom McCarthy's Remainder, but I don't know of (m)any online resources for discussion.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:16 AM on March 2, 2012

Yeah, newer books generally have little in-depth analysis about them online. It's probably better to pick books that are at least a decade old.
posted by Kattullus at 11:19 AM on March 2, 2012

It turns out I have no idea where to look for in-depth literary analysis online.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:53 AM on March 2, 2012

Right now, I'm reading 'The Deptford Trilogy' by Robertson Davies. I recommend it.


Contemporary - just a few decades

Well regarded - there's reviews and essays out there for those who want to look at some commentary

Canadian! - for those concerned about the cultural hegemony of the U.S.


Long - it is a trilogy

Canadian? - sufficient diversity?
posted by BigSky at 11:54 AM on March 2, 2012

infinite jest, perhaps?
posted by kaibutsu at 12:12 PM on March 2, 2012

Break It Down by Lydia Davis is a solid 26 years old.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:29 PM on March 2, 2012

Did the people who participated think that following a college syllabus worked well? If so, maybe it would be a good idea to find another syllabus (or decent "list of great books" or whatever), rather than trying to agree upon a single specific book every time the last one is finished.
posted by Flunkie at 12:39 PM on March 2, 2012

We had a lot of people sign up, some lurkers, and a few dedicated book club members. I think it would be great to find a book that more than a handful of people would like to read and discuss. We need not have a syllabus to track, but it is a Good Thing to have an insightful source along with the book itself. If people just want to read a book and talk, that'll be fine too. As we all know, have a lot of very smart people who read here.
posted by bearwife at 12:52 PM on March 2, 2012

First I've heard of this (now that it's over, of course), and I would love to participate if it keeps going ...

I'm just finishing up 1Q84, and I'd love to do that, but I realize it's not the greatest book-club selection since it's new, hardcover only, and there won't be much online commentary ...

I've always wanted to read A Sentimental Education, fwiw. Or Impressions of Africa. ;)

Anyway, I'm in for whatever.
posted by mrgrimm at 2:11 PM on March 2, 2012

Oh, this is good timing for a book club thread! Over on reddit today, they are currently taking questions to be submitted to Jonathan Safran Foer, of which he will choose 10 and answer them on video, if any of you guys are interested in learning more about the author of your last book.
posted by malapropist at 5:42 PM on March 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

Pather Panchali/Song of the Road by Bibhutibhushan Bandopadhyay? Classic, not American, spawned a famous film, probably available in public libraries?

Read it for a South Asian literature course a while back and remember liking it. (The one thing was that everyone ended up with copies sent from India. Though the local public library owned a copy, so it had a US printing.) There were some other books from that course I wish I could find, but I'm not sure where they went.

There's an Open Yale Course for the Divine Comedy.

Why I'm contributing to this thread, I don't know, as my follow-through is atrocious.
posted by hoyland at 8:40 PM on March 2, 2012

You know, I'm not seeing much of a consensus here on Next Book, though I am drawn myself to the Pather Panchali, Impressions of Africa and Deptford Trilogy suggestions.

How about it, MeFites? We need some book or other to read, and then you interested people need to read it and show up to talk about it at MetaChat.
posted by bearwife at 12:49 PM on March 3, 2012

I think it would be great to find a book that more than a handful of people would like to read and discuss.

In theory I like the idea of a Mefi book club, and I wondered about joining the one you had going. (I think you were well into it by the time I came to know of it.)

But basically following an entire academic syllabus sounded to me like too much hard work, and none of the things on the list were of the ooh-I've-been-meaning-to-read-that variety anyway.

That said, if you made an enthusiastic pitch for why XYZ is a great book, you might well tempt me to join in. If you assume I already know of it, and know why it's good, you might well be assuming wrong.

Also it should be said, I'm expecting to be very busy in the immediate future, so much as I might like to join you, chances are I won't.
posted by philipy at 8:04 AM on March 4, 2012

Yes, I'm not seeing a lot of enthusiasm here on the gray for keeping the book club rolling.

That's cool. Two years and completion of a full college syllabus ain't bad. And I'll stay interested in doing this again in the future if some MeFite group gets charged up about reading and talking about what we read.

Meanwhile, looking forward to seeing whoever wants to drop by for the discussion in 11 days on Metachat of Everything is Illuminated and the accompanying Hungerford lectures.
posted by bearwife at 9:09 AM on March 5, 2012

Maybe as an alternative we could find a way, say via Goodreads or something, for people to at least find other Mefites that are reading / have read / want to read a given book, and would like to talk about it.
posted by philipy at 9:14 AM on March 5, 2012

Sure, I'm on Goodreads too. Maybe we can see if there is some way to set up a MetaFilter group there.
posted by bearwife at 9:23 AM on March 5, 2012

I'm not on it yet, but if a Mefi group starts up, I will join.
posted by philipy at 9:54 AM on March 5, 2012

Here's the MetaFilter group on Goodreads. Doesn't look like anyone has updated "our" book since the book club was reading Lolita (as part of the Yale syllabus.) But it's a good place to get discussion of a new book going.
posted by bearwife at 9:59 AM on March 5, 2012

Ok, I joined the site and the group.

I saw that there was some kind of polls function for the group,which could be useful for picking books to read together.
posted by philipy at 10:57 AM on March 5, 2012

Trying now to friend all the MeFi group members. It will clearly take some time to do that as there seems to be a daily limit. Put up a poll there too -- thanks for pointing that out!
posted by bearwife at 11:14 AM on March 5, 2012

If we're in a group do we need to friend each other as well?

I don't know much about how things work there.

Meanwhile I'm madly trying to tell it about books I've read.
posted by philipy at 11:33 AM on March 5, 2012

I'm a passive GoodReads user, but I'd love to test this out. I'm insanely busy these days, but if time permits I'd love to read a book with MeFites.
posted by Kattullus at 12:41 PM on March 5, 2012

Dunno if we need to friend people too but it is sure interesting to see what we are all reading and saying about our books.

I did put up a poll, with a big glitch. I thought it allowed people to input their choices for books for us to read, but it doesn't. However, you CAN comment in the poll, so can add your choices there. I put up a discussion post about the poll, too, so that is another place to suggest book choices. And, looks like discussion posts may be the way to actually conduct our book club "meeting" if we can settle on a choice and a date to discuss.
posted by bearwife at 1:04 PM on March 5, 2012

I assume bearwife = Catherine?

I will add you as a friend.

Goodreads seems to be horribly slow.
posted by philipy at 2:39 PM on March 5, 2012

Yup, Catherine. And yes, s l o w site. But an attractive one.
posted by bearwife at 3:07 PM on March 5, 2012

It is very fun to see what books we have in common.

Perhaps we should instigate a mass enfriending like with This Is My Jam.
posted by philipy at 3:36 PM on March 5, 2012

Excellent thought. Do you feel like putting up the post to do that? There does seem to be a daily limit on number of friends that can be acquired, FYI.
posted by bearwife at 4:31 PM on March 5, 2012

Posted it.
posted by philipy at 5:25 PM on March 5, 2012

I'm a passive GoodReads user, but I'd love to test this out. I'm insanely busy these days, but if time permits I'd love to read a book with MeFites.

Ditto. I update LibraryThing a little more regularly, but mostly I'm reading, not entering details into Web sites. ;)

I hadn't checked out GoodReads in a few years, but ... I'm in!
posted by mrgrimm at 9:14 AM on March 6, 2012

How about 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami? I'm in the middle of the second part, and I'd love to talk to people about it, and maybe discuss nuances that I might be missing.
posted by crunchland at 7:51 AM on March 7, 2012

I'd be interested in that, crunchland. I'm currently work-traveling so I wouldn't be able to do much, but starting next weekend I'd love to get to grips with 1Q84. I've read books one and two but was saving book three. I'm not entirely happy with all of it but there are a lot very interesting aspects that novel. And some parts I absolutely love.
posted by Kattullus at 4:41 AM on March 9, 2012

How about 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami? I'm in the middle of the second part, and I'd love to talk to people about it, and maybe discuss nuances that I might be missing.

Ditto. I finished it last week. Flawed but fascinating. I think it would be a great book for a book club, with the downside being that a lot of people won't finish it. The Ushikawa parts (though I enjoyed the resolution there) and part 3 in general were a bit of a slog for me. The whole thing (in English) is awfully repetitive.

My favorite review quote is from Janet Maslin:

"You, sucker, will wade through nearly 1,000 uneventful pages while discovering a Tokyo that has two moons and is controlled by creatures that emerge from the mouth of a dead goat. These creatures are called Little People. They are supposed to be very wise, even though the smartest thing they ever say is 'Ho ho.'"

Ho HO!
posted by mrgrimm at 12:26 PM on March 12, 2012

the downside being that a lot of people won't finish it. -- Well, I'll admit, technically, I'm not actually reading it. I got it as an audiobook, and because it's 24 hours long, I'm listening to it at double speed. I suspect that if I actually bought the book, I suspect I might have given up on it already.
posted by crunchland at 1:37 PM on March 12, 2012

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