21st Century Literature discussion

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message 1: by Marc (last edited Aug 31, 2020 08:57AM) (new)

Marc (monkeelino) | 2742 comments Mod
The mods have been discussing whether we need to recruit some new mods and what kind of changes the group might need/want. Since the group is for and thrives by its members, we thought in place of the September Moderator Pick, we'd have a month-long discussion about the future of the group.

Right now we have two group reads per month:
- An Open Pick (nominated by, voted on, and often led by members)
- A Moderator Pick (chosen & led by a moderator; 8 per year) or A Wild Card (nominated by, voted on, and led by members--restricted to "genre" books; 4 per year)

So, questions for members:
- What things would you like to see stay the same?
- What things would you like to see more/less of?
- Would you prefer more or different group reads per month (e.g., thematic voting, such as varying selections: Women in Translation Month, Small Presses, etc.)?
- Would you be interested in a reading challenge of some type?
- Other ideas/suggestions?


message 2: by Hugh (new)

Hugh (bodachliath) | 2752 comments Mod
Thanks for kicking this off Marc - I look forward to seeing what comes of it.


message 3: by Bretnie (new)

Bretnie | 663 comments Thanks for the new ideas!

I quite like the Open Pick and the Wild Card picks! I find myself not reading the Moderator Picks, but I'm not sure why!

I really like the idea of a themed read every month. Maybe the normal Open Pick and then the Moderator Pick gets tweaked to include a theme?

I also really like the question of the week!


message 4: by Marc (last edited Aug 31, 2020 08:58AM) (new)

Marc (monkeelino) | 2742 comments Mod
We appreciate you being the first to provide feedback, Bretnie!


message 5: by lark (new)

lark benobi (larkbenobi) | 226 comments Would designating a given monthly read to nominations from some more defined time period in the 21st century be interesting? As a way to make sure we're learning about, and reading from, the entire 21st century? It feels like we rarely discuss anything from the first decade. Maybe that's okay though.


message 6: by Robert (new)

Robert | 442 comments The question of the week is great! I also like the polls (I admit I only take part if the book is on my TBR stack) but I think that the moderator pick is a bit extra. I also think the wild card could focus on a non 21st century book. I do notice that the concept of the Wild card as it is confuses people as you have to explain it’s function and still people get it wrong.

Maybe book prize readalongs- they are quite popular in other groups. I think thematic challenges could be set up or something similar to the tournament of books.


message 7: by Suzy (new)

Suzy (goodreadscomsuzy_hillard) | 161 comments Thanks for soliciting feedback! I have enjoyed several group reads along with other members of 21CL, but I have not participated much recently.
I really like the idea of themes. In several other groups I belong to, themes generate a lot of nominations. Also, the idea of different time periods within the 21C could generate ideas beyond what's popular right now.
One thing that is frustrating to me is not knowing when the nominations are open. I suppose I could take responsibility for checking in, but really a notification would stimulate more participation from me and possibly others.
And speaking of participation, it feels like that has dropped off in general from the group, or at least that's my perception. Are there ways to get more participation is a question I think worth pursuing. An example for me is that a book of mine won the nomination earlier this year, but there was very little participation in the discussion.
I would love to be more active and look forward to see what others think.


message 8: by Hugh (new)

Hugh (bodachliath) | 2752 comments Mod
One of my biggest concerns is that too many of our group discussions, particularly the moderator picks, are struggling to find enough participants, which can be quite demoralising particularly for the discussion leader. We have a pre- 2010 discussion active (The Winter Vault) and another from 2012 due to start tomorrow (Infinity).


message 9: by Tamara (new)

Tamara Agha-Jaffar | 277 comments I like the idea of a month dedicated to works in translation. A couple of the other forums I'm in do a Women in Translation, which I enjoy. But I think it would be fun to broaden it out and have a more gender inclusive works in translation month.


message 10: by Tamara (last edited Aug 31, 2020 10:04AM) (new)

Tamara Agha-Jaffar | 277 comments Hugh wrote: "One of my biggest concerns is that too many of our group discussions, particularly the moderator picks, are struggling to find enough participants, which can be quite demoralising particularly for ..."

I've noticed there has been a decline in participation in some of the other groups I'm involved with in goodreads. I don't know if that is because of the current climate which has us all a little stressed out.


message 11: by Bretnie (new)

Bretnie | 663 comments lark wrote: "Would designating a given monthly read to nominations from some more defined time period in the 21st century be interesting? As a way to make sure we're learning about, and reading from, the entire..."

Oooh, it would be interesting to do a two-book month where a pre-21st C ties in with a 21st C one. I can't think of any examples at the moment, but I'm sure you smart people could come up with some good ones!

Oh oh, I just thought of one. NK Jemisin's The City We Became has lots of references to HP Lovecraft, which would be a fascinating side-by-side read and an even more fascinating discussion.


message 12: by Marc (new)

Marc (monkeelino) | 2742 comments Mod
Great ideas/comments---keep'em coming!


message 13: by LindaJ^ (new)

LindaJ^ (lindajs) | 2369 comments I'm pretty satisfied with this group. I do think it worthwhile to try some themed months and have both open and moderator picks be on that theme, e.g., women in translation, men in translation, book set in a particular continent or country, winners of NBA fiction in 21st century, winners of Booker in 21st century, winners of Pulitzer in 21st century, etc. And maybe for the wildcard, pick a genre for the read, e.g., science fiction, thriller, graphic, memoir, etc.

I would not want to read things outside the 21st century in this group. It would seem contrary to purpose of the group.

I like "book talk" and "question of the week" topics. I like the concept of the short story of the week/month but find I haven't done well in keeping up with that!


message 14: by Vesna (new)

Vesna (ves_13) | 160 comments Mod
Hugh wrote: "One of my biggest concerns is that too many of our group discussions, particularly the moderator picks, are struggling to find enough participants, which can be quite demoralising particularly for ..."

Since I've joined the group earlier this year, I participated in 2 moderator picks (Aetherial Worlds; Autumn) and 2 open picks (The Tiger's Wife; Belladonna). I enjoyed them all so I think it's wonderful to have both types of picks. It certainly doesn't feel good when the participation is low, but I hope it's because of the busy schedule or other books are lined up to read, as was usually the case with me. I just want to say that it's not necessarily the lack of interest so I hope knowing this would make it slightly less demoralizing for moderators who are doing a wonderful job. In any event, I am grateful for all the picks that I had a chance to read.

I very much like the idea for theme selections or those from the particular period in the 21st c. as well. These can perhaps alternate with moderator and open picks to keep it at 2 books a month.


message 15: by Sam (new)

Sam | 208 comments I would like to see literature from other genres rather than fiction-- poetry, drama, but especially literary nonfiction. Here, I am incorporating, narrative nonfiction, essays, memoir, biography,criticism etc. I would stress that the work either have elements that would interest literature enthusiasts like interesting prose and strucure (example: Underland: A Deep Time Journey) or a literary topic or theme (example: Radical Wordsworth: The Poet Who Changed the World or Square Haunting: Five Writers in London Between the Wars


message 16: by Marc (new)

Marc (monkeelino) | 2742 comments Mod
Suzy,
We try to limit group wide messages to once a month going under the assumption people are already overwhelmed by the amount of messages/texts/notifications they get, but it would be easy to send out a brief notification with a link for nominations. For the Open Picks, they generally are open around the 15th, remain open for a week, and are then followed by a week of voting so that the selection is made a month in advance.

How do others feel about more notifications from the group... desirable/annoying?

Bretnie, the two-book month idea could be quite interesting (immediately thought of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Huck Out West.

Interest in doing short stories has been sporadic, as has the selection of them by a certain moderator. :/
Although, sending out a notification when one is chosen could be a helpful reminder. (I've been on the fence about how regular such a discussion should be and not wanting to take away from the group book discussions.)


message 17: by Tamara (new)

Tamara Agha-Jaffar | 277 comments Sam wrote: "I would like to see literature from other genres rather than fiction-- poetry, drama, but especially literary nonfiction. Here, I am incorporating, narrative nonfiction, essays, memoir, biography,c..."

If we're willing to entertain nonfiction, I think books about nature and the environment are worth considering.


message 18: by lark (new)

lark benobi (larkbenobi) | 226 comments As a mod over in Newest Literary Fiction I think sometimes about how the membership, and the intention, of these four Goodreads groups overlaps--

21st Century Literature

Mookse and Gripes

Newest Literary Fiction

Tournament of Books

21st Century Lit has the broadest intention of all of these groups. Even if we often end up reading the same books, the other groups are more focused in their intention in some way, NLF by focusing solely on books published within the calendar year, Mookse by structuring discussions around prizes, TOB by the annual tournament. That makes things more predictable in these other groups, where I know what's going to be the focus of discussion from month to month.

This is a very vague suggestion, but I wonder if it might be good to somehow narrow the intention of this group, too? Rather than broadening it?

Unlike these other groups, which have fixed and somewhat narrow intentions, your intention could be dynamic, changing from month to month.

Maybe that's a very long way of saying 'themed reads?'


message 19: by Ami (last edited Nov 20, 2020 07:34AM) (new)

Ami | 339 comments Honestly, I find 21C Lit to be one of the most well-run discussion groups on the platform. Since it's conception and through the comings and goings of moderators, this group stands as having some of the most solid readership. I don't know if changes are necessary either.


Notifications
I like the one message per month. It's concise and does what it is intended to do-inform me about everything going on in the group.

Dedication Months/themed reading across the board
Maybe opening up the Wild Card category to include books from a wider selection of genres, or from 20C Lit and... more Wild Card nominations in general. Members of this group, those who readily nominate and participate, they bring so many varied and diverse reading options to the table. Themed reading is nice, but it has a tendency to feel restrictive over time.

Challenges/Tournaments
A hard "no" on tournaments and challenges, for me. Other groups do this and some do it really well. Having this option here, I would be concerned with its effect on monthly group discussions-detracting from participation.

Again, I like how we read and discuss in here. I hope whatever changes do take place, that it won't overshadow what the group already does well: monthly group reads, short story corner, access to current award winning national reading lists.


message 20: by Marcus (last edited Sep 01, 2020 03:59PM) (new)

Marcus Hobson | 79 comments One initial comment - I love the question of the week. I confess that sometimes I use it as a writing prompt - something to get me warmed up with a page of writing that just streams out - the downside is that sometimes there is so much that I never get around to refining it down to a paragraph to add to the discussion.
On the moderated discussions - for me this year I just haven't had time to either add a book I don't own or read something at a specific time. I really wanted to read The Winter Vault, but couldn't fit it in, but I will go back and read the discussion in a few months when I do read the book. And that is a key point, even if there is low participation at the time, people can go back and read the thoughts of the participants at a later time.
PS I have the Josipovici that has sat on my shelf for 2 years in my hand to join the next discussion. I would not have pulled it down yet without the inspiration from this group!


message 21: by Bretnie (new)

Bretnie | 663 comments I've been thinking about the moderator pick today for some reason. I admit I don't usually read them and I think it's because with the group reads, I've put some thought into whether or not I want to read the options. I feel a little more invested in whatever's picked. But if the moderator pick isn't already on my shelf, I don't have the sense of "oh yeah, I want to read that!"

So I had an idea. Or a couple of ideas.

1. The moderators put together a selection of possible picks and people vote. Like the group reads, but the moderator puts out the options.

2. What if we kept an ONGOING list of "moderator picks" And it ends up being kind of fluid? I don't know how we'd prioritize what eventually gets picked, but somehow we'd collectively have input on what gets picked, but the moderators would still have some control of what's on the list. I'm picturing some sort of long term voting system, not every month, just a "I'd like to read that at some point" system. That way the moderator gets to curate the list, but the people who would actually read and discuss the book get some input also.


message 22: by Marc (new)

Marc (monkeelino) | 2742 comments Mod
I wasn't around for the origination of this group, but I believe the intent of having a Moderator Pick was just to provide another avenue for finding 21st literary gems. Behind the scenes, we frequently discuss what authors/books we might have overlooked, which presses seem to be churning out great work, and what selections we're interested in or have discovered individually.

All of this is very helpful feedback!


message 23: by Suzy (new)

Suzy (goodreadscomsuzy_hillard) | 161 comments Sam wrote: "I would like to see literature from other genres rather than fiction-- poetry, drama, but especially literary nonfiction. Here, I am incorporating, narrative nonfiction, essays, memoir, biography,c..."

I've been meaning to comment about the idea of non-fiction. I like the idea of adding non-fiction, especially narrative non-fiction and essays. I'm not a big fan of memoirs, but would entertain those as well.
I also enjoy the occasional short story collection.


message 24: by Sarah (new)

Sarah | 70 comments I love the literary focus of this group. I have learned much from the very smart members. Without this group, I would only read fluff, chick-lit and social science research. Guess I'm saying I appreciate the hard-working moderators who keep up with 'literary stuff' because I don't. Typically, I don't read the Moderator Pick but don't know why. Maybe have monthly nominations but mix clearly labeled Moderator nominations in with the others. I tire of the genre, right-wrong discussions. Maybe Wildcard could be more specific with themes, time period, etc.

One notification per month is plenty and I really appreciate that one selection begins on the 15th.

Prizes are fun! Positive reinforcement rather than dire threats may encourage participation though I have to admit that the threats are my style as well.


message 25: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 2500 comments Ami wrote: "Honestly, I find 21C Lit to be one of the most well-run discussion groups on the platform. Since it's conception and through the comings and goings of moderators, this group stands as having some o..."

I'm with Ami on that overall comment. I respect the boards with "narrower focus" for contemporary literature and sharp in-depth explorations, but I am grateful for this group to stay on board broadly about what is emerging now. I appreciate access to the combined knowledge of the moderators for their picks, even if I haven't been reading them. I think they are in a better position than I to judge whether that function is now accomplished by voting. BUT they do deserve to be able to moderate books that interest them to moderate! That's a small "payment" for the hours they "give" the rest of us.

Personally, Covid has all but killed my ability to immerse myself in books -- articles, news, presentations by speakers using Zoom and YouTube (Time, Columbia U, ...) are taking the time I would previously have used for reading. Both newspapers and magazine articles are a much larger proportion of my reading.

I do find myself wishing those nominating would offer a 2-3 sentence description of why they are asking their colleagues on this board to read this book alongside them, sharing their impressions and thoughts.


message 26: by Lyn (new)

Lyn | 36 comments Just personally, I prefer book discussions that have just one thread, and spoilers are expected there. With covid, it's more difficult to get a book to read at a particular time, so less likely one can read along in real time anyway. (But I can easily continue to just await the final discussion to comment)


message 27: by Jenny (new)

Jenny | 40 comments I enjoy the discussions, though I rarely participate. I’ve struggled to get copies of the books through the library - mandatory two week quarantine every time they enter or leave a branch (transfer between branches - minimum month wait). Unless it looks like a winner, I’m trying not to buy as my book spending is completely out of control. I’ve definitely discovered some real gems though, like Lost City Radio from a couple of months ago.


message 28: by Jessica (new)

Jessica Izaguirre (sweetji) | 122 comments I just wanted to share my opinion here. I enjoy the discussions in this group and I've been trying to participate as much as possible with the books I am able to read. I've read several Moderator's Pick in the past, the last one was Autumn. During the quarantine my library was closed for physical books and only digital copies were available. The wait for digital books has always been much longer so I wasn't able to take many books for discussions if I didn't already own them. The library opened a couple of weeks ago for physical books so hopefully I'll be able to participate more now.

I like the literary part of this group as well, I have found out so many authors and works thanks to the group readings here. I also like the idea of dedicated theme months, that could help with the selections.


message 29: by Carol (new)

Carol Webster I'm late to this discussion, but I just wanted to add a little note that not all the selections have been available in audio book format so that may prevent some readers from access. I personally can read either type of book but I have a subscription to Audible so I'm always looking for ways to use my monthly credit!


message 30: by Jac (new)

Jac Buchanan (jacbuchanan) | 5 comments Carol wrote: "I'm late to this discussion, but I just wanted to add a little note that not all the selections have been available in audio book format so that may prevent some readers from access. I personally c..."

Really interesting you raised that. It's quite hard for indie authors to afford audiobooks (and most do not have the narrative skill to narrate their own).
So I'm with you in wanting more, and it is a growing market, but I'd like to brainstorm a way to make the process more accessible to indies, thus keeping them in the reading pool. This is where most advancement in literature comes from.


message 31: by Marc (new)

Marc (monkeelino) | 2742 comments Mod
We always welcome feedback, so there's no too-late to this discussion! One of the reasons we limit nominations to books that have been published for at least one year (by the time we start reading them) is to allow for more access (in theory, that should mean they are in more libraries and demand is not quite as high as it would be closer to the release date; it may also mean more formats are available... hopefully).

Thanks for the ideas and your membership!


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