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General > Planning for our second 2017 read

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message 1: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments We're still deep into trying to define justice and morality, and building the perfect city, but it's also time to begin thinking about our next read, after we finish The Republic and have our Interim Read palate cleansing.

For our newer members, the way we choose books is that I run a random number generator and use the numbers selected to choose the books from the bookshelf (sorted by author) that match the numbers that come up. In addition, each moderator is permitted to make one nomination. This set of books is presented to the group, and a period, undefined in time but usually one to two weeks, is allowed for discussion, lobbying, trying to build support for your preferred choice or trying to defer interest in a book you think wouldn't make a good selection. At the end of that time a poll is put up. If one book is well ahead, it's selected. If there are two fairly close together, a run-off poll is held.

Voting is weighted. Posters who have made zero to 99 posts get one vote. Posters who have made 100 to 299 posts get two votes. Posters who have made over 300 posts get three votes. In this way, everyone's vote is counted, but those who are more active in the group have more influence on what is selected.

This time, we have one little quirk. The RNG chose two novels by Dickens (two numbers very close together). That happens from time to time because of the nature of randomness. I don't think it's fair to put to Dickens on the poll because it would dilute the Dickens vote, so I'm going to include them both in the list below, but run an interim poll to choose which one will go into the full poll.

This time around, the RNG must have thought we might want a somewhat lighter read after Plato, so it chose for us a list heavy on novels. But of course, that means that maybe the novel-loving votes will be widely spread and Aristotle will have a chance to slip through!

Anyhow, here's the list that the RNG chose for our consideration, listed alphabetically by author. Check out the polls to choose which Dickens will go on the list (I'll use straight voting for this, not weighted voting). And let the discussion and lobbying begin!

Aristotle, On the Soul
Austen, Emma
Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France
Conrad, Lord Jim
Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
Dickens, Our Mutual Friend
Hawthorne, The Blithedale Romance
Malory, Le Morte d’ Arthur
Seneca, Letters from a Stoic
Trollope, Orley Farm


message 2: by Anand (new)

Anand (ajvenigalla) | 8 comments I'd consider adding a Shakespeare play, Antony and Cleopatra to the mix.

I might consider adding Great Expectations as well


message 3: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments The choice is made automatically, we don't add to it once it's decided by the random number generator.


message 4: by Lily (last edited Feb 03, 2017 09:16PM) (new)

Lily (joy1) | 4998 comments Anand wrote: "I'd consider adding a Shakespeare play, Antony and Cleopatra to the mix.

I might consider adding Great Expectations as well"


Anand -- enjoy! Of course, we can all add whatever readings we like to our lives. But here we sort of live off Eman's random number generator against our bookshelf, rather unlike many other Goodreads boards which use member nominations.

In case anyone is not familiar with these, here are the Goodreads links:

Aristotle, On the Soul
Jane Austen, Emma
Edmund Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France
Joseph Conrad, Lord Jim
Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
Charles Dickens, Our Mutual Friend
Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Blithedale Romance
Thomas Malory, Le Morte D'arthur
Seneca, Letters from a Stoic
Anthony Trollope, Orley Farm

The edition of a title shown above is totally arbitrary and should not be presumed to be one that will be recommended if selected as our read. (Often a variety of editions are read among the participants.)


message 5: by Jen (new)

Jen Well-Steered (well-steered) | 73 comments I didn't get around to The Republic because I gave myself tickets to Wagner's Parsifal for Christmas and then got curious to read the original Arthurian legend. A novel would be a nice change, and the ones I have not read on this list and would want to read are: either of the Dickens, Hawthorne or Trollope. I haven't read Lord Jim even though it was on the reading list for a college lit course I took. I think I got three pages in and since on the exam we could choose which 3 of the 5 questions we would answer, I decided that I would skip any that pertained to Conrad. That was 20 years ago and I'm still not over it.


message 6: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan Moran | 83 comments It's been awhile since I've read Hawthorne, that seems interesting. I'll also join in for King Arthur. See what happens I guess.


message 7: by Rosemarie (new)

Rosemarie The Hawthorne is on my shelf just waiting to be read. I would enjoy reading it with this group.


message 8: by David (new)

David | 2497 comments +1 on Letters From A Stoic


message 9: by Thomas (new)

Thomas | 4409 comments On the Soul is a nice place to start with Aristotle, and it would provide an interesting contrast for people currently reading the Republic. It's also fairly short, but rich and compact. Sort of like cheesecake. :-)

Hawthorne's Blithesdale Romance is in part a parody of the society that the American Transcendentalists proposed. I've been interested in reading this ever since we read some of those folks a while back.


message 10: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 4998 comments Edmund Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France, may be timely.


message 11: by Kerstin (new)

Kerstin | 559 comments Aristotle, Burke, Austen, Hawthorne


message 12: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan Moran | 83 comments Everyman wrote: "Voting is weighted. Posters who have made zero to 99 posts get one vote. Posters who have made 100 to 299 posts get two votes. Posters who have made over 300 posts get three votes. In this way, everyone's vote is counted, but those who are more active in the group have more influence on what is selected. "

Two questions: 1) Is this effective as of when vote begins? 2) When does vote begin?


message 13: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 4998 comments Jonathan wrote: "Everyman wrote: "Voting is weighted. Posters who have made zero to 99 posts get one vote. Posters who have made 100 to 299 posts get two votes. Posters who have made over 300 posts get three votes...."

1) Is this effective as of when vote begins?

{Smile] If critical to yourself, Jonathan, I presume you know you can check your status by selecting "Members" and then doing a search by participation. (Yes, I know I have sidestepped your question, but I am presuming neither you or others are interested in "gaming" the system, but rather in having your participation fairly represented in selecting the reading direction of the group.)


message 14: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments Jonathan wrote: "Two questions: 1) Is this effective as of when vote begins? 2) When does vote begin? ."

1. If I understand the question, it doesn't show up in the numbers on the poll page; I don't think Goodreads has a way to do that. When the poll is complete I go through the comment record of all the people who have voted for the work (only looking at works that have a chance of being in first or second place) and assign the appropriate weighting at that point. So when I report the results of the poll I will report both the raw score (the number of actual members voting for the book) and the weighted score, which is the one that counts. Often they are the same, but in close polls there have been cases where a work that led in the raw score did not lead in the weighted score.

I see that Lily interpreted the question a bit differently, so if her interpretation is what you means, as noted above the comment count is taken at the time I analyze the poll results, after the poll closes. (We have never had any member making a series of largely irrelevant comments in order to elevate their number of comments for voting purposes, and I'm quite satisfied that no member of the group would ever try to "game" the system in such a way. We are all serious about the integrity of the discussions here.)

2. The vote begins when I feel there has been enough time for everybody to see the proposed list and comment on it if they wish to, usually roughly a week to ten days after I announce the list. (This time around I also have to wait for the result of the Dickens sub-poll.) After that, the poll is put up when, frankly, I get around to it. I will always announce in this topic when I have opened up the poll, so, as they say, watch this space!

We do not generally announce polls by a general email to our whole membership list because we want participation to come primarily from people who are actively following the group (the poll is always up for at least a week, so if people check in at least weekly they will always have a chance to vote).


message 15: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan Moran | 83 comments Thank you, Lily and Eman. No, no, no, not trying to game the system, sorry if it sounded like that. This is just an interesting system, that's all. Trying to understand it. It makes sense now.


message 16: by Aleph (new)

Aleph | 50 comments Top of list for me is Malory or Seneca. Next down is Hawthorne. Happy to see others feeling the same. Not too interested in four rereads: Austen, Conrad, Dickens, Dickens. Very uninspired at thoughts of another dollop of Trollope.


message 17: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan Moran | 83 comments I think Le Morte D'Arthur is perfect for this group. We/they have covered so many of the great and memorable epics, I'd love to study this one here.


message 18: by Genni (new)

Genni | 837 comments Thomas wrote: "Hawthorne's Blithesdale Romance is in part a parody of the society that the American Transcendentalists proposed. I've been interested in reading this ever since we read some of those folks a while back."

I read it after we read the Transcendentalists here. I enjoyed it.


message 19: by Genni (new)

Genni | 837 comments This is a hard list to choose from! I've been wanting to read Aristotle with group for awhile, but I spent last year reading almost all of his works and need a break. :o Burke, Seneca, and Malory probably top my list...


message 20: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments Jonathan wrote: "Thank you, Lily and Eman. No, no, no, not trying to game the system, sorry if it sounded like that.."

I had no thought that you personally had any such thing in mind. It was just a sort of general comment in case there might be people thinking in that direction.


message 21: by Zippy (new)

Zippy | 155 comments Please, not Trollope. Just finishing La Vendée and I'm all Trolloped out for a while.


message 22: by Natalie (new)

Natalie Tyler (doulton) Zippy,you read La Vendee? I have never been brave enough. I have much respect for you,


message 23: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments Natalie wrote: "Zippy,you read La Vendee? I have never been brave enough."

Bravery needed to read Trollope? I'm shocked. Shocked!


message 24: by Natalie (new)

Natalie Tyler (doulton) Have you read "Ls Vendee" Everyman? It's the only book that the Trollope group has not got up the bottle to read.


message 25: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments Natalie wrote: "Have you read "Ls Vendee" Everyman? It's the only book that the Trollope group has not got up the bottle to read."

I admit not.

And I'm amazed to find that apparently Gerould has no entry for it. Unless under a different name. Nor does Margaret Drabble.

But at least Walpole liked it: "
"it is the true strain of human sympathy running through the book that makes it memorable ... it was remarkable that a young unkown novelist should be able to produce anything as sturdily honest and undecorated as this." - Walpole"

At least it's available free on Kindle. But what's wrong with it that it gets no entry in Gerould or Drabble?


message 26: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments The poll on which Dickens novel to put in the poll for our next read hasn't garnered many votes. Maybe people don't care, but if they do, it's time to vote!


message 27: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan Moran | 83 comments Everyman wrote: "The poll on which Dickens novel to put in the poll for our next read hasn't garnered many votes. Maybe people don't care, but if they do, it's time to vote!"

I voted and I will reread and join in if it happens to win. E-man, any idea on whether there will be an interim read and what it might be?


message 28: by Natalie (last edited Feb 07, 2017 09:27PM) (new)

Natalie Tyler (doulton) Sorry for the typo. It's my aging eyes. According to _The Oxford Reader's Companion to Trollope_: La Vendee boasts "inflated and artificial dialogue, some tedious recapitulation of events, characters as wooden as the painted figures in the garden, no real sense of place--one of Trollope's later strengths--all muddy the novel."

Almost all Trollopeans denigrate this novel. Donald Hall says it is a book filled with "dreary factual detail." I think Walpole might be the only one who liked it. If I were 30, it would be on my list but since I have enough books to read and/or reread to last until I am about 5000 years old, I have seriously pruned ambitions.

But I admit that I have not read it.


And I'm editing this so that you don't think I am trying to gain in posting numbers: when does the next book start to be read? I hope to participate, but typically need a bit of lead time.


message 29: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments Jonathan wrote: " E-man, any idea on whether there will be an interim read and what it might be? ."

Yes, there will definitely be an Interim Read between the Republic and the next book. We always do that as an "intellectual palate cleanser" and so that people won't feel the need to stint reading and discussing the last week or two of one book in order to get a head start on the next.

The Interim Reads (except the occasional extended winter holiday IRs) are never announced in advance, though I've got a pretty good idea what this next one is going to be. But it will be available online, so no need for anybody to worry about buying or borrowing a book, and it's short enough (as all IRs are) to be able to read in one sitting.


message 30: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments Natalie wrote: "And I'm editing this so that you don't think I am trying to gain in posting numbers: when does the next book start to be read? I hope to participate, but typically need a bit of lead time. "

The next book will be announced usually at least a month before the start of the discussion to give people time to get a copy (some people in non-English speaking countries have a harder time getting books quickly).

After the end of the Republic discussion, there will be a two week Interim Read, as discussed in the response to Jonathan. Then the next book will start. Since the Republic goes through March 14, the IR will be March 15-28, and the next book, then, will start on March 29th.


message 31: by Natalie (new)

Natalie Tyler (doulton) Thank you for the explanation. I appreciate it.


message 32: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments Natalie wrote: "Thank you for the explanation. I appreciate it."

I appreciate your asking. If you had the question, I'm sure others did too who for some reason weren't willing to ask it.


message 33: by Sue (new)

Sue Pit (cybee) | 329 comments Oh, on my Goodreads page for this group, it states the finish date for the Republic as February 21, 2017, so perhaps part of the confusion...or at least that is how it appears on my screen! ha! No matter. Apparently there is plenty of time to decide the next read, unlike what I was thinking.


message 34: by Thomas (new)

Thomas | 4409 comments Sue wrote: "Oh, on my Goodreads page for this group, it states the finish date for the Republic as February 21, 2017, so perhaps part of the confusion...or at least that is how it appears on my screen! ha! No ..."

I corrected the finish date. Thanks for noticing that, Sue.


message 35: by Zippy (new)

Zippy | 155 comments Natalie wrote: "Sorry for the typo. It's my aging eyes. According to _The Oxford Reader's Companion to Trollope_: La Vendee boasts "inflated and artificial dialogue, some tedious recapitulation of events, characte..."

How odd to be placed in a position to defend Anthony Trollope against famous literary critics! I'm only about 75% finished, but I think I can speak a little about those complaints. The 'inflated & artificial dialogue' is spoken by the aristocracy to differentiate it from the peasants'. It's not a difficult or tedious read at all. In fact, La Vendée contains one of the most entertaining "No, I do not love you" scenes I've ever read.

What's not to like about reading the Victorian Englishman's version of both the French royalists' and republicans' points of view? I'm with Walpole. But if it gets terrible at the end I'll let you know.


message 36: by Zippy (new)

Zippy | 155 comments Question: Before I vote, I wonder if anyone can give me some information on audio versions of Le Morte d'Arthur.


message 37: by Lily (last edited Feb 10, 2017 11:08AM) (new)

Lily (joy1) | 4998 comments Zippy wrote: "Question: Before I vote, I wonder if anyone can give me some information on audio versions of Le Morte d'Arthur."
This is ordering site, not personal experience, but shows three unabridged versions that are available. I leave to others to comment on whether they have used any of these.
http://www.audible.com/search/ref=a_h...

(Beware of the comments -- typical Amazon fashion, they don't seem to necessarily match the edition being explored.)


message 38: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments Zippy wrote: "Question: Before I vote, I wonder if anyone can give me some information on audio versions of Le Morte d'Arthur."

Lily has given you good information on this. I would just add to watch out for abridged vs. unabridged versions.


message 39: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments The mini-poll chose A Tale of Two Cities as the Dickens novel for the poll.

That done, the poll is now up and ready for voting. It will be up for one week. Vote early, but not often!


message 40: by Zippy (new)

Zippy | 155 comments Lily wrote: "Zippy wrote: "Question: Before I vote, I wonder if anyone can give me some information on audio versions of Le Morte d'Arthur."
This is ordering site, not personal experience, but shows three unabr..."


Thanks, Lily. Now it's even harder to decide. :-)


message 41: by Tommi (new)

Tommi Karjalainen (asiaton) | 4 comments Everyman wrote: "The mini-poll chose A Tale of Two Cities as the Dickens novel for the poll.

That done, the poll is now up and ready for voting. It will be up for one week. Vote early, but not often!"


We vote by commenting here? If so, I vote for the Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities.


message 42: by Lily (last edited Feb 10, 2017 05:12PM) (new)

Lily (joy1) | 4998 comments Tommi wrote: "Everyman wrote: "The mini-poll chose A Tale of Two Cities as the Dickens novel for the poll.

That done, the poll is now up and ready for voting. It will be up for one week. Vote early, but not oft..."


No, Tommi. Go to the poll. See the upper right part of the home screen. If you are on some device where you do not see that, try this: https://www.goodreads.com/poll/list/1...


message 43: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan Moran | 83 comments Can someone give us more info on the Trollope novel? Is it part of a sequence? For instance, are their previous works of his that we should have read to be introduced the characters and setting?


message 44: by Natalie (new)

Natalie Tyler (doulton) _Orley Farm_ is a stand-alone novel. It is not part of a series.


message 45: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments Jonathan wrote: "Can someone give us more info on the Trollope novel? Is it part of a sequence? For instance, are their previous works of his that we should have read to be introduced the characters and setting?"

No, it is not part of a series. It is a stand-alone novel. You don't need o have read any other books by him.


message 46: by Lily (last edited Feb 10, 2017 07:13PM) (new)

Lily (joy1) | 4998 comments Jonathan wrote: "Can someone give us more info on the Trollope novel? Is it part of a sequence? For instance, are their previous works of his that we should have read to be introduced the characters and setting?"

This has more information about the novel, but it does also have so called "spoilers," if you care about such things.

https://trollopesociety.org/book/orle...

This is the London Trollope Society site. There is apparently also a New York Society. I did not search for it. The Victorian Web has a fair amount on Trollope, but in a quick search, I did not identify Orley Farm. (Cecily has a long review here that definitely expounds on the story itself.)


message 47: by Ashley (new)

Ashley Adams | 327 comments Tommi wrote: We vote by commenting here?

Even though we don't vote here, this space is sometimes used to lodge an argument to try to sway the vote :) I see Trollope is gaining a lot of discussion here, but I'm personally torn between Dickens or Conrad and Austen. I'm not a fan of Austen, actually, but I know many people in the group are. Perhaps it would be best to read it with support of group enthusiasm?


message 48: by Lily (last edited Feb 18, 2017 06:57PM) (new)

Lily (joy1) | 4998 comments In these closing hours of the choice of our next book, I am going to share the article that determined my original vote. I do so knowing it unlikely to have any influence on the outcome for our next read, but to suggest to those of you who are U.S. citizens why it might be worth your time to also read Edmund Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France if you haven't already and even though I am about as certain about it as about Aristotle that we won't be reading either together as a group: https://qz.com/898134/what-steve-bann...

A quotation from the article: (view spoiler)

Again, I write this far more in the spirit of reaching out to influence your reading rather than in any effort to influence your vote for our next discussion on this board. After the results are in, I just think most would be not even bother reading this post about the possible significance of attempting to understand Burke.


message 49: by Rosemarie (new)

Rosemarie Lily, I have read the Edmund Burke book and found it a very worthwhile read, and very enlightening.


message 50: by Roger (new)

Roger Burk | 1717 comments I heartily agree. With the current political turmoil and division. Burke is a renowned classic that is very timely to read. He was a Brit who supported the American Revolution but opposed the French. With Burke you will both enrich your soul and gain insight into current affairs.


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