Monday, July 14, 2008

August Book

What's the plan for August? Any input on the minimalist participation in the discussions? Suggestions on how the vigor can be restored?


alisonwonderland said...

This summer - so far - has been a busy one for me. I read The Devil in White City but didn't have a chance to post anything during the discussion. (I just now am posting a very brief review on my own book blog.) I've got Jim the Boy sitting next to my chair at the dining table and am still hopeful that I'll get to it before the month is over. (My 12yo daughter did read it and said it's "sad.")

I will continue to read this blog regularly and read along and post as I can! I'll be watching for a poll and/or selection for August!

Neco said...

Hola Shirley

I'm readying to start picking possible selections for August.

I just finished The Devil in the White City today. I didn't manage to get the book from my library until June was 2/3 over, hence my belated discussion of it. I don't know if I can say I liked or enjoyed the book, because of the Holmes sections, but it was an interesting read. I found myself rooting for Geyer to solve the mystery of the children's disappearance in the last section. I liked the recaps of the major player's lives after the fair in the prologue.

I'll be starting Jim the Boy next and since it is a short book (and I already have it from the library), I should caught up to where we are in discussion soon.

Bonnie Jacobs said...

"Minimalist participation" ... that's an excellent way of putting it, Shirley.

Most of you are probably not aware that I am basically doing what Oprah's staff does for her world-wide book club. And I'm not having fun any more. We have been following Oprah's ORIGINAL idea of reading a book a month, discussing it during that month, and wrapping it up at the end of the month. Oprah abandoned that format years ago, and I'm ready to do the same. But I haven't figured out what to do instead of this.

The biggest work for me is reading and making up questions for books every month, whether I want to read the book or not. Somebuddy may say, "But there are discussion questions already worked up, out there somewhere." Yes, but nearly always the questions are planned for book clubs that discuss the book only AFTER everyone has read it. Therefore, I've been thinking about what to do with Book Buddies:

(1) Once a month discussions
This would mean Book Buddies would be deserted and desolate for three weeks out of every month, a dead zone which would soon be forgotten.

(2) Other discussion leaders
Maybe one or two of you would be willing to take on a leadership role.

(3) Change the frequency
Maybe we should discuss books only a few times a years: January-April-July-October? Maybe every other month?

(4) RIP Book Buddies
Close up shop and say goodbye to Book Buddies.

If anybuddy else has suggestions for resuscitating (doing CPR on) Book Buddies, speak now or forever hold your peace.

alisonwonderland said...

oh, i certainly hope that option #4 isn't the one that is selected! i'm so sorry that you aren't having fun any more, Bonnie! reading and sharing books with friends are definitely supposed to be fun activities! i have been very appreciative of all your efforts here!

i do think that #2 and/or #3 are very do-able options. i know that i would be willing to be a discussion leader once or twice a year. if we cut back to one book every other month, that might help facilitate more discussion; i.e., if we have basically one month to read it and then one month to discuss it. (that type of scheduling might also make it easier to use discussion questions that are already out there.) maybe in the off-discussion months there could be some light off-topic discussion related to reading/books/etc. i'm just brainstorming here ...

i also think that maybe the expectation that everybuddy will post for every set of discussion questions for every book is too high. even when somebuddy is just "lurking" that doesn't mean that the experience of sharing the book is non-existent.

well, those are a few of my thoughts at this point. i am eager to hear everyone else's viewpoint!

Zorro said...

I did read the Devil and did post. I did not read Jim the Boy.

I read with several online groups and having a monthly leader who selects the book for that month seems to work best.

I do think the more formal format of the blog makes it harder to be courageous enough to post here at Book Buddies than in a forum where we post to a thread. This might be causing some hesitation from others.

Bonnie Jacobs said...

The format here wasn't supposed to be "formal." Never has been. We spent years on Oprah's site, until she kicked out all the book clubs and (apparently) limited discussion to her own chosen book. I simply provided a place for us to talk about books. We have more options here, like having the option of linking to reviews and videos and such, which are outside the "walls" of this blog. Oprah's minions would delete any post that dared to do that.

In a sense you could say we have "threads" here, monthly threads. If you discuss a book any time after its "official" month, labeling it means all the relevant discussion can be called up by clicking on the label.

Maybe I should throw away Essencia Island, our whimsical place to relax. Then maybe there would be off topic discussions here again.

If there's an "expectation" that everybuddy is supposed to answer every question, then we're in trouble. I post suggested topics and questions, trying to get a discussion going. Maybe I just don't know how to make the questions relevant.

Thanks for brainstorming, everybuddy. Keep it up, so we can make some decisions here.

alisonwonderland said...

i guess i'm not sure what the "expectation" has been ... but what i, personally, have wanted to do - with limited success - is make my own post about every set of discussion questions. i guess i raised the question of "expectation" because it has seemed that the months i have not been able (or choose not) to post several times during the month have been when someone has made a comment about the lack of activity (or "minimalist participation")! (i still think that my reading the posts of others has been valuable for me.)

Marylyn S said...

I am so sorry that this seems to not be fun for you anymore. You have been doing this for a long time. I wish I knew what would make it the best book club again. You do so much and I don’t think you know how much we appreciate you. I wish I could get all the books and be in every discussion. I was so excited when you emailed me and I was able to read along. I just happened to have Devil in the white city. I looked everywhere here for Jim the boy and my means are very limited over here. If I buy the book it can sometimes take 2 months to get here so I have to order from B&N and Amazon way in advance.
Any thing I can do to lighten you load I will, I just don’t always have the means here to contribute to each book. I don’t know how we got so formal you are right that we were never that way before even to the point of upsetting each other. And that is one of the things I think had made us the best book club in the past. Well I am here for you as well as Book Buddies because you are my friend and I will always be that. You just tell me what you would like for me to do to help our Book Buddies stay the course.

Semper FI

Neco said...

After reading just your post, Bonnie, and none of the replies after it yet, I thought of another possible idea (so long as other BB would be okay with it). You mentioned having to read and do discussion question, even on books you don't necessarily want to read. I'd be okay with you picking six books a year, every other month (which will help with some of the problems about getting people to select books for us to vote on each month). The other six months, we could either vote (and try to get other BB to lead those books) or have a BB volunteer both select and lead that book.

I do think the blog format, in and of itself, tends to be more formal for posting, even though this is an informal blog. I think the using a forum or board might help with things like discussion of the book beyond the discussion questions, more comments/replies to each other's thoughts (there doesn't seem to be a lot of interaction/discussion, rather each person just replies to the discussion questions), and more off topic (of this month's book) posts, such as other books the BB are reading and enjoying. BB wouldn't have to go back to Oprah's site in order to use a forum/board format. There are sites that offer forums/boards that BB would just need to move on to (such as RGG or Yahoo) as well as sites that let you "build" your own forum much like blogger lets you build your own blog (such as proboards). Bonnie is a good learner and teacher so I'm confident that she could manage either of those and help the BB along. I have thought for awhile (no offense meant) the BB would do much better not as a blog, as I feel that the format is a large part of what is not working for BB.

Okay, I thought of another suggestion/option as I was previewing this post. Possibly a Post for each section (for general discussion of the section) and a Post for each discussion question with BB answering the question (and commenting on each other's answers) in the Comments to that Post.

Just throwing some stuff out there.

Bonnie Jacobs said...

Neco/Jennifer, I like this idea:
Possibly a Post for each section (for general discussion of the section) and a Post for each discussion question with BB answering the question (and commenting on each other's answers) in the Comments to that Post.

One thing nobuddy has mentioned yet is that EVERYBUDDY who is active is getting an email notification every time there's a comment on any of the posts. When I deleted all the non-active people who had been on our list, that got us down low enough to do that, but that also means that we cannot grow. Or at least, it means that I would have to choose then ten most active of us ... because blogger allows only TEN email notifications about comments, and that includes mine, the administrator of the blog.

Zorro said...

I always like to pick and choose just some of the questions
> to answer - the ones I am most interested in.? I want to
> have fun with the discussion and that makes it more fun for
> me!?
> I have gotten used to the format now that I have been here
> for awhile, so posting doesn't seem as formal as it did
> when I began.? I am a fairly newcomer here, having started
> with People of the Book (I think that is where I joined).?
> Bonnie, do you think that the book choices have been the
> reason that you are not having fun anymore?
> Mary

Bonnie Jacobs said...

Good thought, Mary, but the book choices aren't the problem. I have always been willing to read whatever was chosen, even if I wouldn't have picked it up on my own. It's more a matter of being frustrated that I'm doing an awful lot of work for only a half dozen ... and occasionally only a couple of us.

Toby said...

Bonnie,you do so much work & you are appreciated. Even though I got used to your Blog, it is more formal & lends to less spontanity than say,a Yahoo Groups format. I liked the suggestion of 1 month to get book & read & then to discuss the book the following month. Just a suggestion, why can't we just discuss the book & if any one wants to pose a question, they can? That would make your life easier. Suggesting books - everyone suggests books that they want to read when they are able to afford to buy the book or get it free. Maybe more people would join this group if it was on Yahoo. It might be more easier to join.I know a whole bunch of online readers that might like to join us. I do feel that you need more members, since not everyone has the money to buy each book or care to read that book. All in all, you are a fantastic person. Your/our group is fantastic. Do not give up!!!

Ellen D. said...

I kind of like Toby's idea of reading the book and then discussing, because I feel like I am behind pretty quickly if I haven't started reading (my perception--I know it is not strictly valid at all!). I haven't been active enough to deserve one of the notification slots. Another site or BB where people are more likely to wander in might be good, too. Though again, I am not active enough to deserve much of a voice...I probably won't read the books that don't really interest me.

Neco said...

Hola ya'll

Bonnie, the blogger only notifying 10 BBs could be gotten around by making an email group for those who aren't on the list and forwarding the notifications when you get them. It would require a bit of effort/time and wouldn't be instantaneous like if blogger sent them. But they would go out once a day or so and others could do it when you had no email access. There also might be a way to get your email to auto-forward emails from a certain address to a BB's mailing group, but that would depend on your email.

(PS I do appreciate all the work you do for BBs. Even before the notifications, I would check the blog daily (on those days which I had time for computer time). I've read every book since BBs became a blog (except People of the Book) and even when I haven't done the discussion questions or commented because I was behind ya'll in the schedule and didn't want to be spoiled by reading ahead in the posts, I've enjoyed being able to read the BB's thoughts and response.)

Marylyn S said...

Ok next month lets give Bonnie the month off and we will all (as much as we can) contribute as leaders of the discussion.

Bonnie, all you have to do is vote for the book and read it and way what you want about it. (and do the million other things you do behind the screen:-) Well I will do what ever I can to help the BB's out.

Take is easy on me though this is the first semester I am taking two courses...:-O

Shirley said...

Seeing the discussion generated on this has been encouraging. However, reading Bonnie's understood frustration is saddening. I hope that the group can continue and that it becomes fun again for Bonnie. I appreciate the work that she has done to keep the group together including the enrichment she provides for each book and the links allowing us to learn even more about the books.

The notifications of comments have been great! I hadn't planned to visit the boards, but wanted to add my comments on this and let Bonnie know how much I appreciate all that she has done. It sounds like several others are like me and read the books and the boards even if they don't contribute. If each of us could make a greater effort to post comments, I think the board would be more fun and it seems that the more comments that are posted the greater the likelihood is that someone posts something that will generate discussion. Perhaps one of us should try each time a new message is posted to add a comment so that the rest of us know that a new message is out there. Add a little competition to our lives and try to be the first to comment on the new message??? With the new notification system, perhaps instead of adding a new message for each response which is what we were doing at first, maybe it would be better to keep all of the discussion of each book under one message?

I sure hope that the option of closing up shop does not become the preferred option, Bonnie. However, if that does wind up being what works out best for you, I can understand and I want you to know that the various Book Buddies has been a positive part of my life. Thank you for what you have done!