Classics for Beginners discussion

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Preparing for 2017

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message 1: by ☯Emily , moderator (new)

☯Emily  Ginder | 772 comments Mod
The moderators are beginning to prepare for 2017 and we are asking the group for help and/or suggestions in planning for the new year.

1) What do you like about the group? What would you like to change?

2) Can you give any suggestions on how to improve the participation in the group discussions?

3) Do you participate in the group nominations and voting? Why or why not?

4) Should we continue to have a tri-monthly read?


message 2: by ☯Emily , moderator (new)

☯Emily  Ginder | 772 comments Mod
Would you like to see "themed" months, like we have had occasionally? We had one for the November read and once we had one for female authors. If you are interested in a themed month, how often should we have one? What themes would you like to see?


message 3: by ☯Emily , moderator (new)

☯Emily  Ginder | 772 comments Mod
Do you find the broadcast messages we send out useful? How could they be improved?

Would you rather have fewer broadcast messages or more? Should they be sent out at the start of nomination period as well as the start of polls?


message 4: by ☯Emily , moderator (new)

☯Emily  Ginder | 772 comments Mod
My inclination is to eliminate the tri-monthly read since there is little or no participation from the group on the selections. Any disagreements?


message 5: by Arlene (new)

Arlene Good Morning Emily,
I agree with getting rid of the tri-monthly read.


Melissa (ladybug) (ladybugsdoodles) | 30 comments I also agree with getting rid of the tri-monthly reads. I personally don't read the messages so I vote for less broadcast messages. I love the challenges as they help me track my classics. :)


message 7: by Kirsten (new)

Kirsten  (kmcripn) I think we should keep the tri-monthly as there are so many large books we should read.

Also, I think if we mean by broadcast messages the ones that show up in notifications, I think we should keep those to notify about polls. I have less chance of losing track of voting that way.

I would like to see themed months.

- science fiction
- crime/mystery
- love stories
- horror/suspense
- early 20th century classics
- epistolary (or told in letter format) fiction
- banned or challenged books
- women authors


message 8: by ☯Emily , moderator (new)

☯Emily  Ginder | 772 comments Mod
If we have long books that win, then we can read them over a two month period. I think three months is too long for most of the books nominated (except maybe for War and Peace!)


message 9: by ☯Emily , moderator (new)

☯Emily  Ginder | 772 comments Mod
Kirsten *Dogs Welcome - People Tolerated" wrote: "I think we should keep the tri-monthly as there are so many large books we should read.

Also, I think if we mean by broadcast messages the ones that show up in notifications, I think we should kee..."


Thanks for the suggested themes.


message 10: by Arlene (last edited Oct 14, 2016 06:21PM) (new)

Arlene ☯Emily wrote: "Kirsten *Dogs Welcome - People Tolerated" wrote: "I think we should keep the tri-monthly as there are so many large books we should read.

Also, I think if we mean by broadcast messages the ones th..."


I love the idea of themed months and 2 month reads.


message 11: by Phil (last edited Oct 15, 2016 03:20AM) (new)

Phil Jensen | 73 comments Great questions, Emily! I wish all groups would ask that from time to time.

1) What do you like about the group? What would you like to change?

I like that the group reads classics. I wish that the discussions were richer and had more participation.

2) Can you give any suggestions on how to improve the participation in the group discussions?

It's hard. I've lead discussions in other groups that I thought were going to go well, and I was underwhelmed by the result.

The main thing is to have a discussion leader who reads the book either during or right before the discussion. In some groups, the moderator is always the leader. In other groups, the nominating member is the discussion leader.

The discussion leader's jobs, (as far as I can make out) are:
*Read the book right before or alongside the other members
*Ask questions about personal taste and theme
*Create a reading schedule if the book is long
*It sometimes helps to read secondary sources on the work, the author, other works by the author, or related works

Even if you do all those things, the discussion doesn't always fly. I'm not sure why.

3) Do you participate in the group nominations and voting? Why or why not?

Nominations- no, because my reading schedule is already full.
Voting- if it fits my schedule and interests, I'll usually vote for it. I only vote for books I honestly intend to read.

I think some people vote for a book because they read it five years ago and liked it, but they don't actually intend on reading it for the monthly read. That's annoying.

4) Should we continue to have a tri-monthly read?

Probably not.


message 12: by Holls (last edited Oct 15, 2016 06:09AM) (new)

Holls | 19 comments The book choices have always been very good. Like Phil, I don't vote for a book if I don't intend to read it. I also won't vote for or re-read anything I've already read as my backlog is too long for retreading past ground. I'll still try to pipe up in the discussion if I remember anything about it!

Improving participation is the million-dollar question. My experience is that people are more likely to enter discussions that are already fairly pacey and interesting, but then the question remains - how to get there in the first place? Sometimes having a core group that's really committed to not just posting their thoughts but also following up and asking plenty of questions about other people's thoughts can help... but often it doesn't.

No opinions on the number of broadcast messages or dropping the tri-monthly read.

I really like the idea of theme months. I have a few themes in my backlog already, and it's interesting to be able to view books in context alongside others with similar aims. Other themes that I've been looking at over the past year:

- Dystopian / utopian fiction
- Greek & Roman classics
- Classic avant garde
- Literature by country (e.g. Russian, African continent, French, etc)
- Plays


message 13: by ☯Emily , moderator (new)

☯Emily  Ginder | 772 comments Mod
Holls wrote: "The book choices have always been very good. Like Phil, I don't vote for a book if I don't intend to read it. I also won't vote for or re-read anything I've already read as my backlog is too long f..."

Like your ideas for themes. There are not a lot of choices of African literature that are 50 years or older. There is great literature coming from that continent over the past 50 years, so maybe there can be an adjustment of the time frame.


message 14: by Holls (new)

Holls | 19 comments Yes, we'd almost certainly be moving into modern classic territory. I can think of a handful of big hitters published between 1910 and the mid 1960s, but the narrow window doesn't really give us the range of choice that we're used to.

I was momentarily confused because I had the impression that we sometimes read contemporary classics in this group, going from the introduction on the group homepage. Having read this thread I see that 50+ years is actually the official cut-off point and I didn't realise! Oops.


message 15: by Rebecca (last edited Oct 15, 2016 07:21AM) (new)

Rebecca (rebeccasg) 1) What do you like about the group? What would you like to change?
I really like the group reads. I'm not sure what to change other than that I like the suggestions for *some* themed months for nominations.

2) Can you give any suggestions on how to improve the participation in the group discussions?
Hmm I'm not sure about that. I like being able to freely discuss the book as I go, but maybe some general questions at the end? I can't decide if that would be something I would actually do or not.

3) Do you participate in the group nominations and voting? Why or why not?
Yes to voting (when I remember)! I love having a choice in what we might read next and also I use the rest of the nominations as suggestions for my TBR.

4) Should we continue to have a tri-monthly read?
I like the tri-monthly read because it gets me motivated to read big books that I might otherwise skip because of size. But I think the suggestion to just let them be part of the group read poll and if they win just give 2 months instead of 1 or 3.


message 16: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca (rebeccasg) ☯Emily wrote: "Do you find the broadcast messages we send out useful? How could they be improved?

Would you rather have fewer broadcast messages or more? Should they be sent out at the start of nomination period..."


I think the broadcast messages are fine. It would be nice to have updates for when nominations start, polls start, and new group reads start.


message 17: by Chris (last edited Oct 15, 2016 08:57AM) (new)

Chris | 83 comments 1) What do you like about the group? What would you like to change?

I liked reading books I might not originally have read, or at least it bumped certain books forward on the list. It has also helped widen my definition of classics.

2) Can you give any suggestions on how to improve the participation in the group discussions?

This is tough, I am not sure...

3) Do you participate in the group nominations and voting? Why or why not?

I used to, but found it difficult to keep up with the schedule.

4) Should we continue to have a tri-monthly read?

This is tough. My participation waned because I could not keep up the the schedule of reading some larger books in one month... I am supportive of giving more time for larger works but I think it needs to be one book at a time (if it is a longer work, allow more time, otherwise one book per month)... having two at the same time was too much for me so my participation dropped a lot at that time...

Also, the rule of not nominating more than one book by an author in x months is a challenge for me... this lead to us reading The Fellowship of the Rings, and it would have been nice to continue the series as I have have yet to get back to the next one...

I think there should be an exception for closely related works...


message 18: by Skeetor (new)

Skeetor | 20 comments 1) What do you like about the group? I like reading classics and have come across many I might not have tried without this group.
What would you like to change? I think the discussions would be better if they were separated into sections of the book (i.e., Chapters 1-4 on one thread, Chapters 5-8 on another). I sometimes don't have enough time to read. I fall behind and don't like looking on the thread because I will come across comments on something I haven't read yet. It can spoil the book for me or taint my impressions.

2) Can you give any suggestions on how to improve the participation in the group discussions? The one thing I can think of that would help participation is to have questions. Maybe some at the beginning of each thread for that particular section of the book.

3) Do you participate in the group nominations and voting? Why or why not? Yes always in voting and yes in nominations if I know of one I want to read. I participate because I want to read a book that sounds interesting to me.

4) Should we continue to have a tri-monthly read? I don't mind it and it's good for some of the lengthier classics, but I also don't mind if you'd rather do two-month reads.

The themed months idea sounds interesting.

And I also like the broadcast messages.

Thank you for asking for our input. :)


message 19: by Linda (new)

Linda | 3 comments Hi,
I'm new to the group and enjoying the "catch-up". I enjoy reading the classics.

I like the idea of breaking a book down by Chapters for a weekly read and discussion. Questions are of value because I find it with some authors it takes time to adjust to style of writing and having a guide, at least in the beginning, eases that.

I participate in group voting only when I know I will read what the group has selected. Nominations, perhaps further down the road, when I get more acclimated to the group.

A tri-monthly read is great when there is a lengthy book.


message 20: by Annerlee (new)

Annerlee As a classics beginner,I find it hard to vote for books as I do t know what im voting for.. It might help if there were a short blurb as to why the book was chosen ... Abit ofcontext. also feel a bit awkward about joining in the discussions. Im never sure how far everyone is and what tolook outfor when im reading

Maybe its just me but i thought id just make the comment

I like the idea of theme months. I also like year challenges


message 21: by Annerlee (new)

Annerlee Linda wrote:
I like the idea of breaking a book down by Chapters for a weekly read and discussion. Questions are of value bec..."


I agree with all yr points Linda : )


message 22: by Phil (new)

Phil Jensen | 73 comments Annerlee wrote: "Im never sure how far everyone is and what tolook outfor when im reading."

I feel the same way. I don't want to read a thread until I'm finished because I'm avoiding spoilers. On the other hand, sometimes I like to comment while I'm in the earlier parts of the book.

Some groups resolve this by having a spoiler thread for people who've finished and a non-spoiler thread for first impressions and non-spoiler overall comments.


message 23: by Joanne (new)

Joanne | 1 comments I'm new to the group, just joined today. I love the idea of themed challenges, they usually shake me out of my comfort zone/rut. Love getting new suggestions from everyone and being able to nominate and vote in the upcoming selections.


message 24: by Marla (new)

 Marla | 10 comments 1) What do you like about the group? What would you like to change?
I like the concept of the group, but I don't read very many classics. I think I joined this group hoping to inspire me to read more classics, but thus far I haven't felt like reading or didn't have time to read the group selection.

2) Can you give any suggestions on how to improve the participation in the group discussions?
Sorry, I have not participated much, but I rarely read classics and I don't really enjoy them. I do it more to expand my horizons.

3) Do you participate in the group nominations and voting? Why or why not?
I do not participate in the voting, because I usually only vote on things that I intend to read.

4) Should we continue to have a tri-monthly read?
Sorry, I'm not even sure what this is, so I shouldn't comment.


message 25: by Beranga (last edited Oct 17, 2016 07:18AM) (new)

Beranga | 11 comments 1) What do you like about the group? What would you like to change?

I like the group brings up books I had not heard about, or would not read otherwise;

2) Can you give any suggestions on how to improve the participation in the group discussions?

I like the idea of running a no-spoilers thread;

3) Do you participate in the group nominations and voting? Why or why not?

Yes I do, participating is important if you are joining a group;

4) Should we continue to have a tri-monthly read?

No. I agree with reading only one book at the time. If it is very long, then give it a couple months.


reply | flag *


message 26: by Heather L (new)

Heather L  (wordtrix) Kirsten *Dogs Welcome - People Tolerated" wrote: "I think we should keep the tri-monthly as there are so many large books we should read.

Also, I think if we mean by broadcast messages the ones that show up in notifications, I think we should kee..."



What Kirsten said!

I like her suggested themes. I also think the quarterly reads work better for longer books (though I would lower the page count to 500), and having those in addition to monthly reads gives people more options, especially if someone has already read the shorter monthly group read.

I do try to get to the books I have, and will sometimes try to find a book if it's one I really want to read, depending on my schedule. One good example as to why quarterly reads is a good idea -- and the book that started them -- is this: a few years ago Don Quixote won for a December read. Reading a 1000-page classic at any time can be daunting, but in one month? And in December? Who has time when that tends to be the busiest month of the year for many people? It's not only the many holidays that occur, but if you have kids, there will not only be a lot going on at beginning of the month, but winter break at the end (or summer, for those in the southern hemisphere). And if you work retail? Forgetaboutit! I don't want to spend the entire month reading one lengthy and weighty tome during a time I scarce get time to sit down, let alone time to read. It's why I tend to nominate and vote for short books for December.

I always participate in nominating/voting, and appreciate group emails that let me know when nominations are open or polls are up. I'm in another group where the mod doesn't send out notice that nominations/polls are up, then wonders why no one participates. Compared to that much larger group, there is far greater participation here. I will say that I am more likely to vote for a book/author that A) I have actually heard of and B) a book that is easy (and inexpensive) to lay hands on if I don't already have it in Mount TBR.

As for getting more people to participate . . . I'm afraid you can send out links for the discussions, and post info and questions about the books, but -- sad to say -- NOTHING is going to get people to participate if they don't feel like it. I do try to participate if I am currently reading the book, or if I have read it previously. And, of course, there are always books some people have absolutely no desire to read -- as has been the case with me at least twice this year. Since joining this group, there have only been two group reads I've attempted and not been able to finish, and only a few I've wanted to get to and not had time for. Sometimes it's a matter of not being able to get a book in time to participate in the group read (whether buying or borrowing), and I refuse to pay $10-20 for an ebook, especially for a classic that's been around a few decades or centuries.


 Danielle The Book Huntress  (gatadelafuente) | 614 comments Mod
Thanks for all the feedback! I am finding it very helpful.


message 28: by ☯Emily , moderator (new)

☯Emily  Ginder | 772 comments Mod
Thank you for all the feedback, and especially for the theme suggestions.

We all have to work on improving the discussions. It gets discouraging for the discussion leader if there is little or no discussion. The moderators set up the threads, but we aren't always available to read the books chosen, so it would be great if the nominator could at least start the discussions by providing info about the author or the book or providing interesting articles or links.


message 29: by Nina (new)

Nina | 449 comments Thank you all for your feedback and input! We moderators tried to summarize as much as possible all your points and adapt our current way of doing things so that as many as you are happy with this. Of course, some feedback was contradictory, so we tried to identify the points that most of you agreed on.

We decided to change the following things:
1) We will stop the three-monthly reads. Instead, a new rule will be that if a book gets chosen that has more than 600 pages, we will read it over 2 months. That means, there won't be a nomination the following month.
2) Every now and then we will do themed months. Feel free to inspire us with your ideas for themes :-)
3) We will try the following: There will be two threads for every group read, one regular one and one 'non-spoiler'one. We started this for the November read and well see how it works out. Feel free to tell us whether this works better for you.
4) We will keep asking the person who nominated a book whether they can moderate. If they can't we will ask them to contribute to the discussion with their thoughts and ideas because (assumingly) they read along with the group. If a moderator moderates a group read, we will also try harder to make the discussion more interesting, though there might be constraints for us in reading along or reading extra material for discussion etc. If we want an animated discussion, it is also up to everyone to contribute.
5) For every month, we will send 2 messages: one when nominations open, one when polls open. We assume that this should not be (too) overwhelming.
6) As you were happy to provide feedback and ideas and this should help us create a group with happy members, we will regularly ask for your feedback in the future.

Happy reading everyone!


message 30: by Annerlee (last edited Nov 05, 2016 07:27AM) (new)

Annerlee Nina wrote: "Thank you all for your feedback and input! We moderators tried to summarize as much as possible all your points and adapt our current way of doing things so that as many as you are happy with this...."

Sounds good to me. Just a couple of questions .. Sorry if the answers are obvious...

Is there a thread for us to suggest themes? Do the moderators decide which to take forward or is there a vote?

Is the idea to nominate books on that theme or for everyone to choose their own classic on the theme then report back after reading?


message 31: by Annerlee (new)

Annerlee ☯Emily wrote: ".... It would be great if the nominator could at least start the discussions by providing info about the author or the book or providing interesting articles or links..."

That would be great. A big help for a classics beginner like me.


message 32: by ☯Emily , moderator (new)

☯Emily  Ginder | 772 comments Mod
Annerlee wrote: "Nina wrote: "Thank you all for your feedback and input! We moderators tried to summarize as much as possible all your points and adapt our current way of doing things so that as many as you are hap..."

We are taking suggestions for themes on this thread: https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/...

At this point, each moderator will select the themes and we will use the suggestions given to us. We will then take nominations for the theme selected and then vote for the book to read as a group.


message 33: by Myst (new)

Myst | 58 comments This may not be a popular idea, but why not once a year have a re-read month, where nominations are from previously read books.

Perhaps restrict the re-read to 2011/2012 books only so it's been 4-5 years since it's even been a group read.


message 34: by ☯Emily , moderator (new)

☯Emily  Ginder | 772 comments Mod
Myst wrote: "This may not be a popular idea, but why not once a year have a re-read month, where nominations are from previously read books.

Perhaps restrict the re-read to 2011/2012 books only so it's been 4-..."


I added this to the theme thread.


message 35: by RitaSkeeter (new)

RitaSkeeter Myst wrote: "This may not be a popular idea, but why not once a year have a re-read month, where nominations are from previously read books.

Perhaps restrict the re-read to 2011/2012 books only so it's been 4-..."


Love that idea!


message 36: by Annerlee (new)

Annerlee RitaSkeeter wrote: "Myst wrote: "This may not be a popular idea, but why not once a year have a re-read month, where nominations are from previously read books.

Perhaps restrict the re-read to 2011/2012 books only so..."


I'd like that too


message 37: by Biblio (new)

Biblio Curious (bibliocurious) | 55 comments We have the best moderators :D Thank you for organizing this discussion! It's a great idea to make plans for the following year.

I joined too many groups on Goodreads and this one became woefully neglected. So I haven't been nominating or voting on books.

I like the 2 month read idea, instead of the 3 month.
The themed reads sound awesome too. Can you post them a bit in advance so we can prepare our reading/nominations?


message 38: by ☯Emily , moderator (new)

☯Emily  Ginder | 772 comments Mod
Can you post them a bit in advance so we can prepare our reading/nominations?

That's an idea. I'm not sure any of the moderators have decided that yet, but we will consider it.


message 39: by Phil (new)

Phil Jensen | 73 comments Biblio wrote: "We have the best moderators :D Thank you for organizing this discussion! It's a great idea to make plans for the following year.

I joined too many groups on Goodreads and this one became woefully ..."


Agreed. I really appreciate the mods starting this conversation.


message 40: by MargieP (new)

MargieP I am newly joined, and am having some difficulty finding my way around. I would like some help with what is the January selection is, please.

In response to the questions, I like the idea of themed months. Two month reads are good. Three month reads not so good.


message 41: by ☯Emily , moderator (new)

☯Emily  Ginder | 772 comments Mod
The January selection is listed on the home page which is here: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/.... Since An American Tragedy is very long, we are reading this over two months.


message 42: by MargieP (new)

MargieP Thank you, Emily. Do members try to read at the same rate?


message 43: by ☯Emily , moderator (new)

☯Emily  Ginder | 772 comments Mod
Margaret wrote: "Thank you, Emily. Do members try to read at the same rate?"

No. We put up the threads for the entire book and people read at their own pace. You can also read the book later and make comments since the threads will remain open for a while.


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