MeFi Marginalia discussion/signup January 13, 2014 3:23 PM   Subscribe

Inspired by chavenet's post, we're putting together a Metafilter Marginalia group. This is where you can help us decide how things will work, and sign up.

The (proposed) plan: You sign up, and find a very bad book in your own personal library, or buy one. You send the book off to the next person in your round-robin group, and receive one at the same time. You have two weeks to read as much as you'd care, and to add your commentary to the margins. Then you repeat, until each book has made its rounds and you end up with your own special Mefi Marginalia copy of your original terrible book.

The questions:
  • Is two weeks (plus an extra week of shipping time) enough time to get through a good amount of book?
  • How many members should there be in each group? (aka how many bad books are you willing to read)
  • Do we have any international/non-US members that are interested?
While we get this all figured out, feel free to sign up by emailing me at mefimargins@gmail.com (include your mefi handle), or send me a memail.
posted by specialagentwebb to MetaFilter-Related at 3:23 PM (144 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite

Two weeks would certainly be enough for me to read through at least a good portion of most books. It might get tricky to time the shipping so that new books are arriving on regular intervals, though; I swap a lot of books on Paperback Swap using Media Mail for shipping, and transit times really vary wildly -- sometimes a couple of days, sometimes a couple of weeks. Not that this is an argument against doing it, but just a caveat.
posted by scody at 3:31 PM on January 13, 2014


I'd be up for it, so that's one in the "international" column.
posted by garius at 3:38 PM on January 13, 2014


Some thoughts:

- Would there be a minimum margin width for books? Mass market paperbacks, for instance, can have margins less than half an inch wide, which would be difficult to write much of substance in unless you have teeny tiny handwriting.

- I would suggest that at least one person -- an organizer, presumably -- would have to keep track of what books people are proposing to mail around. Otherwise we might end up with an "eight copies of Twilight" sort of situation.

- What definition of "bad" are we using? I assume more of the "basic incompetence of sentence-to-sentence craft" variety, as opposed to "really really stupid in my opinion"? I personally thought [Popular YA Fantasy Novel] was awful and disappointing, but that's because of the subject matter and the themes it chose to pursue, not because it was poorly constructed, and I'd bet a few participants in the swap would disagree with me and possibly be offended that I sent it around.

- I'd suggest a soft rule along the lines of, "Please purchase tracking/delivery confirmation so books don't get lost in the black hole of the postal service."
posted by Narrative Priorities at 3:48 PM on January 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


I'm down.

I'm not sure the book has to be bad, necessarily - as Narrative Priorities said, that can be really up for debate. I think it could be entertaining enough to do this with any book - even the best ones have mockable parts.
posted by divabat at 3:57 PM on January 13, 2014


I agree about the "bad" guidelines, and also think maybe we should have some kind of rules about what kind of books are okay. I don't think everyone wants to get trashy romances, no matter how hilaribad they may be.

If we get everyone to choose a book at the very outset, I can watch out for duplicates and try to head those off, or to put them into different groups.

For the timing/tracking thing, maybe it would be best to relax the schedules and just let people send the books along whenever they can (with a gentle email reminder after 2 weeks). If people let me know when they send/receive books, I should be able to make sure everything keeps moving along. That might cause a pile-up if faster readers send books along really quickly, though. I'm really open to suggestions on this, because I think it's going to be the hardest part to coordinate.
posted by specialagentwebb at 3:58 PM on January 13, 2014


I'd propose a month rather than 2 weeks, to allow for shipping hangups and reading time. Stretching it to a month would also let people ship things media rate, which can take longer.

I'm very tempted.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:58 PM on January 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


This sounds fun!
posted by brundlefly at 3:58 PM on January 13, 2014


I would be super into this if the mailing deadline was a month instead of two weeks.
posted by Phire at 3:59 PM on January 13, 2014 [4 favorites]


For practical reasons we may want to do groups of 6-8 people, with coordination to make sure the group only has one of each book being read. I would think hardcovers are best, followed by trade paperbacks, to ensure sufficient margns for the marginalia.

I think it'd be interesting to leave "bad" wide open.
posted by graymouser at 3:59 PM on January 13, 2014


I'm so into this. I think the groups should be pretty small: no more than 10, probably closer to 5. The smaller the group, the less likelihood of things like people getting burnt out, the whole thing falling apart when one person flakes, or being the last person and having no space left to write.

Maybe instead of requiring that the books all be bad, we could just open it to any books that we're okay snarking about. Like, I think the Harry Potter books are great, but I can still find things to make fun of them about.
posted by Metroid Baby at 4:00 PM on January 13, 2014


Oh, also, I prefer the two week limit to a longer one. I may not be able to finish a book in two weeks, but I'm more likely to totally space out on sending something after a month. Maybe the organizer could send monthly "time to swap" reminders?
posted by Metroid Baby at 4:02 PM on January 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


Multiple smaller groups also opens it up to regional groups, which is potentially helpful in that someone from NA isn't waiting three weeks for a book from Australia and vice versa.
posted by Phire at 4:03 PM on January 13, 2014


I could do two weeks on a more regional group. Because being in new York means it's achievable to just drop things off at their office instead of mailing it.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:04 PM on January 13, 2014


I probably couldn't commit to international, but if there's going to be a Brits group, I'm interested.
posted by the latin mouse at 4:11 PM on January 13, 2014


I want in. Will be in the international group. I think a month would best. Thanks for doing this, it's a swell idea.
posted by chavenet at 4:15 PM on January 13, 2014


Sounds like a month is what The People want, and a month-end "time to swap" email would be very easy. That should make things easy to track as well, since everyone will be able to tell where their book is (or should be) at any given time.

I'd like to give this a week or two for signups, then I can figure out how many groups we'll have, ask everyone to pick a book, and sort everyone into groups. Maybe aiming for an early February start?
posted by specialagentwebb at 4:20 PM on January 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


Totally down for this!
posted by littlesq at 4:24 PM on January 13, 2014


Yes yes yes I want in too! A month would be great, since my grad school schedule means pleasure reading is sometimes hard to cram in.
posted by WidgetAlley at 4:31 PM on January 13, 2014


Great! Is this signup or are you going to do sign-up genius or something like that?
posted by Measured Out my Life in Coffeespoons at 4:40 PM on January 13, 2014


My thought is to make the groups small. We did a metafilter quilt swap which was 16 months long and that was just too long in my opinion (and I have not finished the final block which was due months ago partly because after that many months I was burnt out.)
posted by vespabelle at 4:57 PM on January 13, 2014


So what is the criteria that needs to be met for this, meaning who gets to decide what's 'bad'? Do they have to be recent novels or would nonfiction/self help/biography be contenders? For example, I'd love to do the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous (including/especially the stories in the back) as its contents are dated and ripe for riffing.
posted by item at 5:15 PM on January 13, 2014


So what is the criteria that needs to be met for this, meaning who gets to decide what's 'bad'?

Any of these books will do.
posted by vacapinta at 5:31 PM on January 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


I'm in, maybe we can get a Canadian group? 1 month swap works for me.
posted by arcticseal at 5:41 PM on January 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


Another one who would prefer a month. I'm in though.
posted by cmoj at 5:53 PM on January 13, 2014


I am totally in! I would prefer the month limit.
posted by Saminal at 6:11 PM on January 13, 2014


I'd be up for it, so that's one in the "international" column.

Ditto.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:31 PM on January 13, 2014


I'm so in. Oh please,please.
posted by thivaia at 6:33 PM on January 13, 2014


I should probably have mentioned that I'm really only financially equipped to do this when I can send things Media Mail (so, not international, I think?) Is there interest in a US-only group?
posted by WidgetAlley at 6:34 PM on January 13, 2014


Finally -- the tempest force that will lift me toward Infinite Jest completion!
posted by oceanjesse at 6:53 PM on January 13, 2014


yes, interested!
posted by aetg at 7:00 PM on January 13, 2014


I'm interested and also don't see why the book has to be bad.[1] Other people's thoughts and musings on any book is cool by me. Maybe I'll get meta meta.[2]

[1] Though if there is a prize for best bad book I have one that will absolutely win it.

[2] Which I read thanks to AskMe/Meta.

posted by cocoagirl at 7:02 PM on January 13, 2014


I want to see Ready Player One after markup please?
posted by edgeways at 7:05 PM on January 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'd be up for it, in the international column. Given distances, and craziness of shipping, this might be a good time for regions rather than just 'international.' Asia&Oceania might be stretching it, but Asia to Europe is kind of far.
posted by Ghidorah at 7:11 PM on January 13, 2014


Where is that copy of Being and Nothingness? The LOLs almost LOL themselves!
posted by shothotbot at 7:14 PM on January 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


Woo! Lez do this!

How do we build the round-robin? Other than, you know, drawing a circle with everyone's name on it.
posted by stinkfoot at 7:16 PM on January 13, 2014


In my opinion, groups of 3 (maaaaybe 4) is pretty good to start. Beyond that I can imagine margins getting pretty crowded.

(And I'm not sure I want to read 10 shit books just for fun)

(Although I do like the idea of doing good books too- that should be up to the sender? Or maybe up to the mini-group?)
posted by stinkfoot at 7:18 PM on January 13, 2014


Aw yeah. I've been weeding a public library that hasn't been weeded in, like, fifty years. There's some AMAZING stuff hiding on the shelves. Once I de-accession them I'd be thrilled to give them new life as Marginalia.

However - I also request a longer time between shuffling them off to the next person. A month sounds good to me, too.

I'd be cool with US-only or international.
posted by Elly Vortex at 7:32 PM on January 13, 2014


Omg I have such a bad romance novel I was JUST OFFERING to send it to another MeFite for hilaribad purposes. I am in!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:37 PM on January 13, 2014


I'm in.
posted by davejay at 7:46 PM on January 13, 2014


Yes Please, I would love to do this. If enough people sign up, would you consider it a good idea to arrange groups based on categories of books? IE fantasy/scifi, romance, mystery, nonfiction etc?
posted by nasayre at 8:02 PM on January 13, 2014


i am in, i would prefer a month, i am from canada, i am worried about my handwriting being illegible.
posted by PinkMoose at 8:21 PM on January 13, 2014


omg omg omg so excited
posted by threeants at 8:26 PM on January 13, 2014


Please count me in. I'm fine with two weeks or a month.
posted by jayder at 8:28 PM on January 13, 2014


Also, I like the idea that the books need not be ipso facto "bad". Like what if I pick up some book at a thrift store that looks super schlocky but through the bonding experience of marginalia I laugh, I cry, I learn to love again ET CETERA
posted by threeants at 8:33 PM on January 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


This sounds really fun. Please count me in.

One question... are we to have read and marked in the margins of the initial book we send out?
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 8:41 PM on January 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


Please count me in! Do we have many other folks from Australia?
posted by Alice Russel-Wallace at 8:47 PM on January 13, 2014


Another Canadian here - one month please.
posted by variella at 9:00 PM on January 13, 2014


In! other factors are not an issue for me.
posted by OHenryPacey at 11:08 PM on January 13, 2014


Another check in the international column, Europe if it matters. Either timetable is fine with me, although it seems mail from the US takes an absolute age sometimes.

I'd prefer fiction, but if people want non-fiction I'll happily read that too. Maybe 6ish books, chosen according to everyone's individual sense for what's "good bad" rather than hard and fast rules?
posted by hannala at 12:33 AM on January 14, 2014


In! I would be with the 'European' contingent and I think a month is a good time.

Thinking about this in the abstract last night (coming directly from stinkfoot's comment) I had the idea of one central, physical location where the books would go to and come from, and the book you'd get would be basically random. Of course, this makes it a little complicated and labor intensive for whoever manages the central book repository. Which is why I'm glad I'm not figuring out the logistics of this. But still, ephemera and marginalia are awesome and a real hidden bonus to used-book buying (especially books you pick up at hostels/marina's/ex-pat cafe) and I like the idea of the finished artifacts ending up in one physical location. Maybe Matt's house. Or maybe they simply get sent out to some used book store for some lucky, unsuspecting Shmo to stumble across at some point in the nebulous future…



posted by From Bklyn at 2:42 AM on January 14, 2014


I am keen as well. Add another person in Australia.
posted by latnahc at 3:50 AM on January 14, 2014


I'd be up for joining your Brits group, latin mouse
posted by Ned G at 3:50 AM on January 14, 2014


Heads up, the USPS has been cracking down on media mail. It's supposed to be for "educational materials." I'm sure we could argue that this is an educational exercise but they may open your packages and if they determine the books aren't educational, they may come postage due.
posted by IndigoRain at 4:03 AM on January 14, 2014


Sounds like fun. Would 3 weeks be a possible compromise for the time?
posted by JanetLand at 5:49 AM on January 14, 2014


I'm a Chicagoan and am totally in. Would "book I used to have to do when I was an English teacher that is supposedly a classic but I personally hate it so hard" count?

Also, my partner has a visceral negative response to writing anything in books (she's an academic who uses many, many post-its), so I would certainly get an illicit thrill out of this.
posted by HeroZero at 6:35 AM on January 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


I would like to be in on this (in a US only group), and I would like to nominate this book for marginalia.
posted by ActionPopulated at 7:16 AM on January 14, 2014


I am in, and vote for the month as well. (Also as requested, I am MeMailing you to confirm my in-ness.)
posted by solotoro at 7:26 AM on January 14, 2014


--UPDATE--

Okay, so this blew up a lot faster than I'd expected. We now have close to 60 people who want in. In the interest of making things a little more organized, I've set up a google form right here where you can submit your address, shipping preferences, and other information.

I'd like to start with groups of 4-6 for our first run, which means that with a few more signups we should be able to have a Canada-only group and a UK-only group. Depending on how people respond, I may divide the other non-US users into regional groups, or have them in US-friendly international shipping groups.

I'm going to keep signups open until January 24th, then do the group organization on the 25th or 26th. The goal is to have everyone ready to start this on February 1st. Once groups are figured out, I'll send out an email to each group with a numbered list of addresses. All you'll need to do is send your book to the person who comes after you. At the beginning of each month, I'll send out a reminder to everyone that it's time to forward your current book.

The only official criterion for book selection is "any book you want to snark on", so if you have any strong preferences be sure to include them in the google form, so I can let your group members know. I'm very undecided on the "write in your own book first" matter; it could be very helpful for other people to be able to riff off your notes, but might also be fun to see if others hate the same things you do, without any prompting. If it's okay with everyone, I'd like to leave this up to the individual, with the stipulation that you should marginalize (marginate? enmargin?) your own book quickly so that it can still go out at the beginning of February.
posted by specialagentwebb at 8:12 AM on January 14, 2014 [3 favorites]


I'm sorry if this has already been addressed, but I'm not seeing it in a skim of the thread. In the FPP, the two commenters can be told apart by the color of their writing. I realize that would be harder with more than two people, but is that something we want to do? There could be a legend in the form of each person signing the title page in the ink of their choice
posted by brundlefly at 8:36 AM on January 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


Interested. US only. Any time period is fine by me. This sounds fabulous.
posted by Night_owl at 8:38 AM on January 14, 2014


Ooh yes, I meant to mention that! I think it would be really great if people used different pen colors and signed their names in the front or back. I don't want to make it a hard-and-fast rule, but it's definitely a thing I'd encourage everyone to do.
posted by specialagentwebb at 8:42 AM on January 14, 2014 [5 favorites]


As a sidenote, Media Mail seems perfect for this:

Only these items may be mailed at the Media Mail prices:

a. Books, including books issued to supplement other books, of at least eight printed pages, consisting wholly of reading matter or scholarly bibliography, or reading matter with incidental blank spaces for notations and containing no advertising matter other than incidental announcements of books.


I think the books everyone will be sending will consist "wholly of reading matter".
posted by Margalo Epps at 8:47 AM on January 14, 2014


I'm sorry if this has already been addressed, but I'm not seeing it in a skim of the thread. In the FPP, the two commenters can be told apart by the color of their writing.

Very good point!

Although if it's any kind of fantasy novel I will obviously be leaving my comments in Elvish as well.
posted by garius at 8:50 AM on January 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


Although if it's any kind of fantasy novel I will obviously be leaving my comments in Elvish as well.

Venenya vilyanirwanen ná quanta as angolingwi.
posted by graymouser at 9:51 AM on January 14, 2014


Form filled out! I don't really care what book it is, and no one really agrees all the time on what "bad" is anyway. (how many people have I offended with my sarcastic comments on The Red Tent? So many!)

I was originally wondering if we should try to do some kind of e-book/scanning thing instead of paper books, but then I realized that takes all the fun out of getting mysterious packages from mysterious places with interesting postmarks. Plus DRM and formats and crap like that.

If most folks need a month, I'm fine with that; there's no reason any individual person couldn't finish it sooner and send it on, if they wanted to, so if you only need two weeks, then take two weeks.

We definitely need small groups, but I'm not sure how we decide who picks/sends the first book.
posted by emjaybee at 10:45 AM on January 14, 2014


I'm interested, and I'd say and a month per person, which makes it a lot easier to remember when to send the book on. An easy way to remember - write your handle/name in the front, and the date received.

Also, I think the group should be 4, maybe 5 people at most, because 1) the margins could get pretty full, and 2) how many different pen colors are likely to be used? Black, blue, red, green, and maybe purple? And/or hot pink? Yes, there are tons of colors available if you order online, but we don't want it to be onerous to join this, plus at some point, the colors can fade and/or be hard to tell apart (though there is also different hand writing to differentiate writing).
posted by filthy light thief at 11:36 AM on January 14, 2014


I want to do this, but I am also planning on moving in, yipes, four months. I suppose I could send out my updated address when I get there, but I also don't want to be a pain in anyone's ass.
posted by dogheart at 12:41 PM on January 14, 2014


It might be interesting to scan some pages (or take pics) and put them on some central page once the project is over.
posted by jayder at 12:41 PM on January 14, 2014 [4 favorites]


This sounds totally fun. I've filled out the form and am already going through my library and getting my best sparkly pens ready.
posted by darchildre at 1:15 PM on January 14, 2014


I'm in and have signed up! Excited about this (thanks for taking on the responsibility for making this Great Idea become an Actual Thing, specialagentwebb!).

Also, I am up for helping out with postage. I could even include a label for shipping to person y in my own shipments to person x, if I knew where the book(s) would be headed to down the line.
posted by misha at 2:02 PM on January 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


We definitely need small groups, but I'm not sure how we decide who picks/sends the first book.

If I'm understanding this correctly, everybody in every group starts a book. So everyone participating in this will be doing a book at the same time. There will be as many books as there are participants. So there's no "first book."
posted by jayder at 3:40 PM on January 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'm in.
I hope no one minds my predilection for YA fiction.
posted by ApathyGirl at 3:45 PM on January 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


I'm in - I work at a used bookstore (evil laugh) so I have a wide, wide selection of delights from which to choose.
posted by mygothlaundry at 8:25 PM on January 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'm in as an Australian, but would ask for a month as per shipping issues.
posted by solarion at 9:54 PM on January 14, 2014


Just signed up as another Brit. Exciting! and now to find the most shocking shocker on my shelves.
posted by calico at 3:14 AM on January 15, 2014


I'm in. I've culled my book collection extensively over the past few years, but my work has a 'take a book - leave a book' box, so I'm sure to find something suitably cringeworthy...
posted by Gordafarin at 6:54 AM on January 15, 2014


How long of a book should I be choosing? I imagine a shorter one, since people have to read and comment and mail in one month, but could I get a ballpark number of pages?
posted by Night_owl at 1:00 PM on January 17, 2014


Night_owl, probably in the 300 or less category, but that certainly seems variable to me based on your particular choice (i.e. I bet Inferno is longer than that but is a pretty "easy" read).
posted by stinkfoot at 2:46 PM on January 17, 2014


Signed up from Ireland. This is a great idea.
posted by unbearablylight at 4:46 AM on January 19, 2014


This is an amazing idea from start to finish. Are we supposed to have marginaliaed the initial book that we'll be sending out on Feb 1st, or will we be sending out a pristine, unbemarked volume?
posted by Hellgirl at 7:03 PM on January 20, 2014


OK, I've signed up for Australia, given that postage anywhere else will probably take weeks.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 7:54 PM on January 20, 2014


Hellgirl: "This is an amazing idea from start to finish. Are we supposed to have marginaliaed the initial book that we'll be sending out on Feb 1st, or will we be sending out a pristine, unbemarked volume?"

Oh, good question. Should we be reading and jotting right now?
posted by Lexica at 10:51 AM on January 21, 2014


Hellgirl: "This is an amazing idea from start to finish. Are we supposed to have marginaliaed the initial book that we'll be sending out on Feb 1st, or will we be sending out a pristine, unbemarked volume?"

If you already know what book you want to send, feel free to start making your notations now. I think it would be a lot of fun to get a book with notes from the original owner, but I'm not going to make it a requirement. If you feel like sending an unmarked book, that's okay too.

The book preferences seem to be divided mainly into "please no scifi/fantasy/romance/YA" and "please LOTS OF scifi/fantasy/romance/YA", so it shouldn't be a problem sorting people into groups that suit their interests. The only thing I'd ask is that if you know you want to send something in the horror genre, you let me know because a lot of people have said "no horror" as well.
posted by specialagentwebb at 12:27 PM on January 21, 2014


--ANOTHER UPDATE--

We have 62 signups for our first ever Marginalia Swap, and the groups are almost all figured out; I'm double-checking to make sure I don't have people in incompatible groups tonight. Tomorrow afternoon, the emails/memails with group assignments will go out.

If you have any questions or problems with your group, please shoot me an email or memail so that I can get it resolved as soon as possible.
posted by specialagentwebb at 12:23 PM on January 24, 2014 [4 favorites]


Well, I just went out and bought Twilight, so you should all let specialagentwebb know you'd like to be in my group.
posted by davidjmcgee at 1:34 PM on January 24, 2014 [2 favorites]


I'm going to the library tomorrow to dredge through the sale bin. I will judge by the most hideous cover.
posted by arcticseal at 3:11 PM on January 24, 2014 [2 favorites]


SWAPS HAVE GONE OUT

I've sent everyone an email or memail (whatever preference you marked in the signup form) with the groups and set of rules. If you haven't received your group information for whatever reason, let me know and I can make sure you get it.

Let the margining begin!
posted by specialagentwebb at 12:16 PM on January 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


Yay! Need to find a special sparkly pen that writes snarky unicorns. Or a simple bic, I can probably reach that without getting out of bed.
posted by arcticseal at 12:41 PM on January 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


what if my interests sharply disagree with the guidelines of my group, or seem vague?
posted by PinkMoose at 2:02 PM on January 25, 2014


I'm wondering what is the best way to communicate what books we'll be getting with my group.
posted by graymouser at 2:09 PM on January 25, 2014


what if my interests sharply disagree with the guidelines of my group, or seem vague?

Um, yeah, I really honestly did buy and begin margining Twilight and the notes from my group say: "A few group members have indicated a preference for nonfiction, and no horror/crime."

I mean, it's certainly non-fiction (TRUE STORY IT REALLY HAPPENED) and it's so goddamn boring that it probably can't actually horrify anyone, but... sorry in advance, group?
posted by davidjmcgee at 4:12 PM on January 25, 2014


I MeMailed everyone in my group to get regular e-mail addresses so we can group-discuss (Pink Moose, you're in my group) because a) I wish to claim the color green because all of my pens are green and b) You're getting some chick-lit novel I picked up in the B&N bargain bin today which MAY be awful but I HAVEN'T READ IT YET, IT'S POSSIBLE IT DOESN'T SUCK. (Because all my terribawesome novels at home have inadequate margins for this game.)

I picked the one with the suckiest-sounding plot and with clunky dialogue based on my two-page scan, but I don't know, I might accidentally be sending you guys something readable.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:09 PM on January 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


Davidjmcgee, we're in the same group and I'm totally cool with that. The nonfiction comment may have come from me, but if so, it was followed by 'but then again maybe this is a good excuse to read that Navy SEALs who are werewolves romance novel my library keeps pushing at me'. I contain multitudes.
posted by Stacey at 7:19 PM on January 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


ohpleaseohpleaseohplease
posted by davidjmcgee at 7:29 PM on January 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


Hi Davidjmcgee, I'm in your group and I'm cool with Twilight as well. I did say non-fiction was a go, but it doesn't have to be. As a matter of fact, since I didn't know if anyone else would do non-fiction I've already started marking up a fiction book as well.

This business of finding a good bad book to snark on and snarking it well is harder than I thought it would be. I remember thinking my book was so dumb when I read it a few years ago, and now that I'm reading it through again, I'm not finding a ton to snark about on a page-by-page basis. But I'm giving it my best shot!
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 7:47 PM on January 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


Serene Empress Dork: "This business of finding a good bad book to snark on and snarking it well is harder than I thought it would be. I remember thinking my book was so dumb when I read it a few years ago, and now that I'm reading it through again, I'm not finding a ton to snark about on a page-by-page basis. But I'm giving it my best shot!"

It really is pretty difficult. I picked up RAVEN: Swordmistress of Chaos, but it might actually be too bad for a bad book swap.
posted by specialagentwebb at 8:01 PM on January 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


IMPORTANT UPDATE: I'm on page 26 of the B&N Bargain Bin Chick Lit Novel and don't worry, it sucks.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:40 PM on January 25, 2014 [6 favorites]


I'm in the same group as Serene Empress Dork and davidjmcgee and I'm hoping that the "no crime" doesn't include jazz-age mysteries. The book I chose is more cigarette holders, gin, and fast cars than it is thugs beating people up (plus I know I was one of the folks who requested no gore or excessive violence), so… fingers crossed.
posted by Lexica at 11:28 AM on January 26, 2014


My group includes no romance or horror. Does Flowers in the Attic count as either? Because I just watched the most recent made-for-TV version, and all I could think was "man, the book was so much better," by which I mean SO LAVISHLY, GLORIOUSLY, INSANELY WORSE, and I am now dying to read it again for the first time since some point during the Reagan administration.
posted by scody at 1:14 PM on January 26, 2014 [2 favorites]


Personally, a jazz-age mystery sounds fine to me. I think our no-crime preferences sound pretty similar.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 3:52 PM on January 26, 2014


I will NOT read a book that features cigarette holders. Unless the cigarette holders are also SPARKLY VAMPIRES.
posted by davidjmcgee at 10:34 PM on January 26, 2014


Well, now I want to read a book about sparkly Navy SEALs who are also werevampires who have cigarette holders and argue about martini garnishes a lot. I'm pretty sure they didn't have Navy SEALs in the jazz age, so this might have to be a steampunk alternate history.

Clearly once we're all done with the marginalia project, our group should mind-meld and write this book and win all the Hugos.
posted by Stacey at 5:53 AM on January 27, 2014 [3 favorites]


Can we work a fake nun in there somewhere? We could give her a sparkly vampire cigarette holder and she could be banging the Navy SEAL. Being a fake nun, she has those kind of options.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 7:40 AM on January 27, 2014 [2 favorites]


Are we still OK with the idea of sending out our initial book unmarked? I don't think I am going to have enough time to read something before the target mailing date, and the idea of picking up a book I am intrigued to read and then sending it out to a bunch of people to markup for me before I read it is really appealing, but I can't guarantee that it will abide by my group's "non smutty" guideline by the cover only. Obviously romance or erotic stuff will probably be apparent, but not always, you know?
posted by Rock Steady at 11:38 AM on January 27, 2014


Rock Steady: "Are we still OK with the idea of sending out our initial book unmarked?"

Your group members can chime in on this, but I think it's totally okay to send an unmarked book. For the smut criteria, I think that as long as you don't see a ton of sex when you flip through it, it'll be okay. You should be able to get a good idea of if it's "book about ghost pirates that's just an excuse for porn" or "book about ghost pirates and there's a PG-13 fade-to-black sex scene".
posted by specialagentwebb at 12:09 PM on January 27, 2014


specialagentwebb: You should be able to get a good idea of if it's "book about ghost pirates that's just an excuse for porn" or "book about ghost pirates and there's a PG-13 fade-to-black sex scene".

Yeah, that was what I was thinking.
posted by Rock Steady at 12:25 PM on January 27, 2014


Well, I just went out and bought Twilight, so you should all let specialagentwebb know you'd like to be in my group.

My group expressed a preference for "YA, scifi, fantasy, or romance". Enjoy The Host, everyone.
posted by solotoro at 6:28 AM on January 28, 2014 [3 favorites]


Ugh. I accidentally saw that movie awhile back. Ugh.
posted by Night_owl at 8:48 AM on January 28, 2014


Hey there group, I just got my contribution in the mail today! It's this one, just like I threatened upthread. I don't know where y'all stand in regards to first contributors writing in their books, but I would really like to put at least a few notes in this one.
posted by ActionPopulated at 2:40 PM on January 28, 2014 [1 favorite]


I plan on writing notes in my book and then sending it out early next week.

Indigo's bargain bin seems to have yielded gold based on the cover and the sample two paragraphs I read. The look I got from the sales assistant at checkout was priceless, I mumbled something about "bad book club" and skedaddled.
posted by arcticseal at 12:26 PM on January 30, 2014 [3 favorites]


You should have bought something super arty along with it as a "cover purchase". Like when teenagers buy a random magazine or toothpaste or something along with their condoms.
posted by brundlefly at 3:58 PM on January 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


"I'll have these mints, this bookmark with a cat on it, a copy of Architectural Digest and...this book, just ignore it, it's for a friend, yes that's it, a friend".
posted by arcticseal at 6:39 PM on January 30, 2014 [4 favorites]




Page...19...so...many...ellipses...
posted by arcticseal at 7:50 PM on January 30, 2014


The book I was going to use is actually a bit too violent and sexually explicit, so I'm open to last minute suggestions.... anyone have any ideas I can steal?
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 7:51 PM on January 30, 2014


His thoughts were red thoughts: "The book I was going to use is actually a bit too violent and sexually explicit, so I'm open to last minute suggestions.... anyone have any ideas I can steal?"

Fallen is one I considered sending (but went with something else). I've heard it described as "a Twilight ripoff that makes Twilight look like a goddamn masterpiece". One GoodReads reviewer opens their review with "Thanks Satan, for the book recommendation."
posted by specialagentwebb at 5:15 AM on January 31, 2014 [3 favorites]


I've read Fallen and that's pretty accurate. (Though it didn't have the creepy pledge of forever-love on the first date, so I actually finished it, instead of flinging it across the room.) I did not read the rest of the series.
posted by Margalo Epps at 7:19 PM on January 31, 2014


Whew, I feel better about my mammoth 600+page hardcover purchase now.
In other news, this book I thought was a deliciously terrible beach/bathtub book gets 4 stars on Goodreads.

What, like I was going to send off my personal, waterlogged-from-having-been-read-in-the-bath paperback?
posted by ApathyGirl at 9:40 AM on February 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


I just wanted to say that having grown up with a dad whose policy was "wash your hands before reading (at least the first editions), turn pages from the outside corner so you don't accidentally rip them, never dogear a page, and never ever ever write in a book" I am having WAY too much fun with this. Mwa-ha-ha.
posted by Lexica at 1:44 PM on February 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


I sent my book a few days ago via media mail to Oregon from Oakland - how long does it take?
posted by divabat at 1:52 PM on February 1, 2014


I just wanted to say that having grown up with a dad whose policy was "wash your hands before reading (at least the first editions), turn pages from the outside corner so you don't accidentally rip them, never dogear a page, and never ever ever write in a book"

When my daughter was a teenager, she borrowed--without asking--a brand-new book of mine that I was greatly looking forward to reading.

I got home from work that day, made a cup of tea, got comfy on the couch, and eagerly opened my new book... only to discover that the entire book was full of cigarette ashes and boogers. It was so gross I wound up throwing it away and buying myself a new copy.

Note to my teammates: my daughter lives several states away now so she will not have handled the bad book I'm sending out; and I, while perhaps not the most civilized individual on the planet, do not smoke and am generally able to refrain from snorting boogers into my reading material. So no worries. :)
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 4:52 AM on February 2, 2014


Advance apology to my group: my book is not just bad, it's tedious, which is a far worse sin. I'm mailing it tomorrow without finishing it. I think the addition of your comments will only improve it.
posted by arcticseal at 7:53 AM on February 2, 2014


You're not alone, arcticseal! The book I picked is more tedious-bad than funny-bad, and several of my margin notes are apologies for choosing such a lame book.
posted by Metroid Baby at 6:03 AM on February 3, 2014


I am thinking of including a small list of drinking game suggestions along with my book. I offer that idea up to the crowed in case anyone else feels their bad book would be enlivened by drinking / eating a cookie/ whatever each time [annoying character] does [really unbelievable thing existing solely to drive plot mechanics].
posted by Stacey at 8:16 AM on February 3, 2014


Good thought Stacey; I actually wrote in one possible drinking game on the cover page of my book. (Although it's a good thing I didn't actually try my game; if I did I wouldn't be alive to write this comment now.) Other group members, if you have drinking games of your own to contribute that would be fun.

PS-misha, the book is en route and should arrive any day.
posted by ActionPopulated at 11:43 AM on February 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


The book I picked is more tedious-bad than funny-bad, and several of my margin notes are apologies for choosing such a lame book.

Oh, man, me too -- I was positively gleeful to begin re-reading Flowers in the Attic after all these years, and it has turned out to be a total slog. I think I'm going to find a different bad book entirely.
posted by scody at 12:13 PM on February 3, 2014


Mailed mine today, Canada Post is such a rip off when shipping to the States but at least there wasn't a queue.
posted by arcticseal at 4:18 PM on February 3, 2014


I'm almost done reading/marking my book selection, and I just thought of a drinking game off the top of my head which'd make it pretty easy to get sloshed if you wanted to.

BUT it turns out the YA book I chose is the third book in a series, so, as you read, you have to connect the pieces yourself . Honestly, it is pretty easy to do, and I don't feel like I am missing enough that I want to go back and read the first two books myself.

But I am wondering if it might be better to pick another book instead anyway. My group members might not want to have to bother with filling in the backstory for a book that s pretty marginal to begin with.
posted by misha at 4:28 PM on February 3, 2014


Filling in the back story is half the fun. My book is #8 in a series. I can't believe that there's enough fans for it to get this far.
posted by arcticseal at 4:32 PM on February 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


Finished mine tonight, and it was legit awful. The villain of the piece was the only character I ended up liking. I was going to write a little afterward where the romantic hero chopped off the heroine's head as a trophy immediately after the wedding and mounted it on a pike in his suburban Connecticut basement, but I had written "So. ci. o. path." so many times in the margin by then that it seemed redundant.

It was a light rom-com. Allegedly. I have never been more off-put by characters in my entire life.

ONWARDS TO THE NEXT VICTIM!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 4:49 PM on February 3, 2014 [2 favorites]


Fallen is one I considered sending (but went with something else). I've heard it described as "a Twilight ripoff that makes Twilight look like a goddamn masterpiece". One GoodReads reviewer opens their review with "Thanks Satan, for the book recommendation."

Going out to grab a copy of Fallen this afternoon, unless someone can suggest something worse.

This is what I get for purging the bookwall of substandard content.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 8:02 PM on February 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


Just a suggestion, for anyone not in my group* who's still looking for a book: Rhapsody: Child of Blood by Elizabeth Haydon. The part (early on) at which I would have thrown it at the wall if it hadn't been a library book was "Then, like a rolling wave, hate swam visibly through her muscles."

Also, I hear The Maze Runner is pretty bad, so…

* If you're in my group… for the love of mercy, somebody's already inflicting Twilight on us.
posted by Lexica at 9:08 PM on February 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


Also, I hear The Maze Runner is pretty bad, so…

Oh gods, I think I saw that on the bookwall. The purge must begin anew!
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 9:52 PM on February 3, 2014


My book is a later one in the Maximum Ride series by James Patterson. (I spent a long time looking in the adult sci-fi/fantasy section and there were problems with every book I was tempted by ... too long, too rapey, too-small margins, etc.) The Patterson book has a mercifully short page count and nice margins ... plenty of room for snark.
posted by jayder at 9:58 PM on February 3, 2014


Oh gods. Fallen. Oh. I think I may have permanent brain damage. Sending it off tomorrow.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 3:23 AM on February 4, 2014


I had picked up a terrible book where the plot was "Magical Fairy Princess must get pregnant to inherit the Magical Fairy Throne, so she spends the whole book bangin' Magical Fairy Bodyguards" before finding out that it was the sixth in the series. So I went out and got the first one, thinking that it would have a more interesting plot.

SPOILERS: In the first book, she finds out that she must get pregnant to inherit the throne. She spends (at least) the first six books of the series boning her bodyguards.

To those in my group, I am so so sorry.
posted by specialagentwebb at 6:28 AM on February 4, 2014 [3 favorites]


To those in my group, I am so so sorry.

I think we're going to have to give out prizes.
posted by arcticseal at 7:40 AM on February 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


My book has crosswords and sudoku! And chains of dialogue that go on forever without any indication of who said what!
posted by divabat at 10:47 AM on February 4, 2014


My ability to gloss over paragraphs and paragraphs of descriptions of rooms and clothes and antiques, finely honed after years of Anne Rice, is no match for this book WHICH, BY THE WAY, I've read several times before and honestly, I didn't remember it being this pretentious.
posted by ApathyGirl at 11:36 AM on February 4, 2014


I've been struggling to get through the 'gritty' teen drama book I bought, so I'm going to read it on my commute for the next couple of days. I really hope the fact that I'm annotating something will make me look serious enough that people don't ask any questions.
posted by Ned G at 2:31 PM on February 4, 2014


I just mailed out a fantasy epic that appears to be about water rights, so good luck with that, group!
posted by Rock Steady at 4:21 PM on February 7, 2014 [2 favorites]


Y'all, I am moving slowly. I will get this thing in the mail - and my heart goes out to the person who receives it - but there won't be all that much notation. Turns out that I can only summon the strength for about three pages at a time and then I just can't stand it anymore and have to go do something fun. Like clean the floor.
posted by mygothlaundry at 7:44 AM on February 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


Hey, I got my book, and I'm really enjoying marking it up. I really do feel like Joel and the Bots riffing on a dumb B-movie.
posted by Rock Steady at 6:26 AM on February 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


Rock Steady, it did seem like the right book to send. Glad it's fun to mock!
posted by graymouser at 8:14 AM on February 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


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