The Readers Review: Literature from 1714 to 1910 discussion

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Group Information > What is "Group Improvement Suggestions" All About?

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Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.) (captain_sir_roddy) | 1483 comments Mod
This is the folder for you to post suggestions for improving the structure, mechanics, and day-to-day operations of "The Readers Review." I want this to be our group; and more than anything, I want all of us to take ownership for making this a comfortable and happy environment where we can share our love and appreciation for the literature we are reading and discussing.

So, make suggestions, be creative, and think outside of the box. I would like to think that the goal is to make this a really interactive and dynamic group that will be loads of fun to participate in. Cheers! Chris


message 2: by Jan (new)

Jan (auntyjan) | 483 comments Perhaps the Introductions section should remain at the top, above the Adam Bede discussion.


message 3: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 3582 comments Jan wrote: "Perhaps the Introductions section should remain at the top, above the Adam Bede discussion."

Personally, I always like the current discussion at the top, since that should be the primary focus of members, but that's just my opinion; others may feel differently.


message 4: by [deleted user] (new)

Everyman wrote: "Jan wrote: "Perhaps the Introductions section should remain at the top, above the Adam Bede discussion."

Personally, I always like the current discussion at the top, since that should be the prima..."


I thought GR just automatically put the thread with the most recent post at the top. Can you change that?


message 5: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 3582 comments Kate wrote: "I thought GR just automatically put the thread with the most recent post at the top. Can you change that? "

Within a topic, the thread with the most recent post will float to the top, unless there are threads which the moderator has marked as important, in which case they will always be listed first. (These threads are marked with an asterisk. The rest of the threads below these follow the last-post-to-the-top rule.)

But the order of the topics can be set by the moderator, and it doesn't change unless the moderator goes in and changes it. Thus, within the Adam Bede topic the threads will move around, but that topic will stay on top until Christopher moves it down or sets another topic on above it. (New topics always start at the top, but can be moved anywhere in the list.)


message 6: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 3582 comments Chris or Kate, please change the current reading book on the group home page from Adam Bede to Brothers K!


message 7: by [deleted user] (new)

Everyman wrote: "Chris or Kate, please change the current reading book on the group home page from Adam Bede to Brothers K!"

Oops. Thanks for the catch Eman. Fixed it.


message 8: by Malcolm (new)

Malcolm Esquire (MalcolmEsq) | 289 comments Hi, would it be possible to create chatrooms/discussion forums so that if one wishes to discuss various aspects from an author's output it can be done there safely in the knowledge that anything they write would not be consldered as 'spoilers' because everyone participating there have prior knowledge that, for example, recurring themes and contrasts and comparisons to other works by the author will be discussed.

I recently made the blunder of comparing certain aspects of duality and characters admiting their guilt in writing in a number of works by Wilkie Collins, namely Basil, The Woman in White, Armadale, and The Moonstone.

The person I had discussed this with and raised these points had also read these works, but the next person to enter had not and was concerned that they had read in our discussion what they had termed 'spoilers'.

If this can occur when discussing Wilkie Collins, how can anybody be expected to discuss with any depth or meaning, for example, the works of the likes of Charless Dickens, Mary Braddon, Anthony Trollope or Ellen (Mrs. Henry) Wood?

In short, can individual rooms be created to discuss the work and techniques of the most popular authors of the era?


message 9: by [deleted user] (new)

Malcolm wrote: "Hi, would it be possible to create chatrooms/discussion forums so that if one wishes to discuss various aspects from an author's output it can be done there safely in the knowledge that anything th..."

Easily done, Malcolm. If you look in the topic "A Focus on our Authors" you'll see threads have already been started on Nietzsche and Tolstoy. No reason you can't start a thread for any other author (or group of authors) you wish to discuss. Anyone can start a thread, so if there is a particular author you want to talk about go ahead and set one up. These new threads should be created as they are needed/wanted so we don't end up with a lot of empty ones, but there isn't any limit to how many can be set up.

Spoilers are really only applicable to the current group read, so no problem there.


message 10: by Malcolm (new)

Malcolm Esquire (MalcolmEsq) | 289 comments Kate wrote: "Malcolm wrote: "Hi, would it be possible to create chatrooms/discussion forums so that if one wishes to discuss various aspects from an author's output it can be done there safely in the knowledge ..."

Thank-you Kate. I am new here and so still learning way way around.

Exactly how is that done? One is unfamiliar as to how to create a thread.

Could someone kindly explain the differences between a group, club, topic and thread and what are the distinguishing features, please?


message 11: by Malcolm (new)

Malcolm Esquire (MalcolmEsq) | 289 comments Kate wrote: "Malcolm wrote: "Hi, would it be possible to create chatrooms/discussion forums so that if one wishes to discuss various aspects from an author's output it can be done there safely in the knowledge ..."

Ok, thanks for clearing up that point as the person had said it of 'Basil', which they had not yet read and was contemplating reading.


message 12: by [deleted user] (new)

Malcolm wrote: "Kate wrote: "Malcolm wrote: "Hi, would it be possible to create chatrooms/discussion forums so that if one wishes to discuss various aspects from an author's output it can be done there safely in t..."

To create a new thread, go to the Readers Review home page. On the discussion board you'll see a list of "folders" in bold type and then various "topics (same as "threads"-- the terms are used interchangeably around here)" underneath each one. The home page only shows a maximum of 8 topics/folder and there can be a lot more so you can expand the list by clicking on the "view all" which is opposite the folder title.

To add a new thread to one of the main folders just click on the one you want. Another discussion board screen will pop up with a list of topics and over to the right of the topic header is a "new topic" option which you can click on. Pretty self explanatory at that point.

I suspect "club" and "group" mean the same thing, but I'm guessing.


message 13: by MadgeUK (last edited Dec 08, 2010 09:46AM) (new)

MadgeUK | 5214 comments If this can occur when discussing Wilkie Collins, how can anybody be expected to discuss with any depth or meaning, for example, the works of the likes of Charless Dickens, Mary Braddon, Anthony Trollope or Ellen (Mrs. Henry) Wood?

In short, can individual rooms be created to discuss the work and techniques of the most popular authors of the era?


If you look at the way Christopher has set up the two Group Reads, The Brother's Karamazov (was only our second), you will see that there are threads for each part of the book and there are a Background Information and Resources threads. Using these threads judiciously means that you are less likely to introduce spoilers to a discussion. If you feel something is necessary to the discussion before folks have reached a particular point, the custom is to write SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER so as to alert those who do not want to read any further. Also, if at the start of a book discussion you feel a particular topic would be useful, you can request the Moderator to create such a thread. I usually request a Background Information/Resource thread(s) for instance. If Off-topic discussions occur, there is a 'Cafe' thread where these can be transferred to.

Club is the overall name, here it is The Readers Review.

Group is the group of people who have chosen to join and are discussing things within the club, or just lurking, as the case may be.

Thread is a particular string of comments (posts) within a listed topic. This is a such a thread within Group Improvement Suggestions within the Readers Review club.

These general conventions tend to apply to most of the clubs on GR (Goodreads).


message 14: by Gail (last edited Dec 05, 2010 09:56AM) (new)

Gail | 91 comments Is there any possible way to limit the political discussions a bit? They seem to overtake every thread. I understand that politics can be construed to inform every part of life, but on a poetry thread I'd like to read poems and textual analysis of poems. I'd like to contribute a poem and then engage in some conversation about the poem. In a book discussion, I'd like to discuss plot, text, characters, the relationship to other literature, literary analysis, and the like. Could the political discussions be moved to accompanying threads specifically created to discuss politics as it relates to the work(s) being studied?
ETA corrected spelling


message 15: by [deleted user] (new)

Gail wrote: "Is there any possible way to limit the political discussions a bit? They seem to overtake every thread. I understand that politics can be construed to inform every part of life, but on a poetry thr..."

All valid points, but we aren't going to create separate threads to discuss politics. That way lies madness!!

In some works like Brothers Karamazov the political and social issues are integral to the story and some readers want to discuss those points. If you are more interested in the literary aspects then by all means help turn the discussion by jumping into the conversation and discussing plot, characters, literary analysis, etc.

Alternatively, feel free to speak up and object within a thread when you see a conversation going in inappropriate directions.


message 16: by Gail (new)

Gail | 91 comments I appreciate your prompt response. One thing I don't want to do is engage in any sort of confrontation, so I'll be quite careful in how I word any posts I might make.


message 17: by [deleted user] (new)

Gail wrote: "I appreciate your prompt response. One thing I don't want to do is engage in any sort of confrontation, so I'll be quite careful in how I word any posts I might make."

Thanks Gail. It's sometimes difficult to find a diplomatic approach and I know a lot of people really are uncomfortable with confrontation, but it really does help when group members speak up to the extent they can. I appreciate you bringing this up!


Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.) (captain_sir_roddy) | 1483 comments Mod
I'm chiming in too. I agree with Gail. We simply must, all of us, do our very best to keep politics, sex, ethnicity, and religion out of these threads; unless it directly pertains to a book or poem being discussed. And then the greatest tact and sensitivity should be exercised by us all.

I think that we are all very much agreed that the last thing that we want is for anyone to feel the slightest discomfort here.

There, I'm done, and off of my proverbial soapbox.

Cheers! and Happy Holidays to Each and Everyone of You!


message 19: by [deleted user] (new)

Christopher wrote: "Cheers! and Happy Holidays to Each and Everyone of You!"

I hope that's not an indication that you intend to vanish until the end of the holidays!!


message 20: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 3582 comments Gail wrote: "Is there any possible way to limit the political discussions a bit? "

I personally agree with you, which isn't really totally hypocritical even though I've sometimes been among the guilty ones, because I always tell myself I shouldn't, but then I do. (I am the same way about eating whole pints of Ben and Jerry's dark chocolate ice cream. I have plenty of willpower, but what I sometimes lack is won't power.)

That said, though, all of the books we read were written in a specific political environment, and many of them reflect aspects of that. And some people prefer to read works for their perceived political undertones as much as or more than for their overt content.


message 21: by Gail (new)

Gail | 91 comments I do see that point, Eman; however, I have a bit of a problem with so many book discussions somehow winding up in dissertations about, or at least containing massive digressions into, today's politics. I find this especially true as we see the same positions posted over and over in discussions of widely divergent books.

Of course the Reform Bill and various advances in medical practices are relevant to Middlemarch, and any discussion of Huckelberry Finn would be meaningless without cosiderable reference to slavery. But certainly in the case of, say, MM, the book is far more about human relationships and how character develops over time than it is about political reform. Even thought Eliot integrates the politcal issues better than either Trollope or Dickens, those issues are still secondary to her plot and characters.

As always, that's just one woman's opinion. For the most part I enjoy this group and have learned far more here than in any college class, as there are so many who contribute insights that others may have overlooked.


message 22: by MadgeUK (last edited Dec 07, 2010 09:04AM) (new)

MadgeUK | 5214 comments Gail wrote: I have a bit of a problem with so many book discussions somehow winding up in dissertations about, or at least containing massive digressions into, today's politics.

It goes without saying that I am the one most at fault over introducing politics to our discussions because that is the prism through which I see life and books. Just as there are others who regularly introduce religion because they see life and books through that prism.

Isn't one of the reasons that the classics remain on the bestseller lists that they continue to hold a mirror up to society and speak to every subsequent generation? I was watching a TV documentary earlier today about the exploitation of children in Victorian times and how books like Dicken's Oliver Twist helped to change the law. The commentator made the point that some of the arguments used then, like the value of education, are as pertinent today (as UK students protest over increases in university fees) as they were then. Similarly, child labour in other parts of the world continues to be a problem. Many of the political/social arguments which Victorian authors put forward are still very pertinent today so what is secondary to a plot becomes a very subjective matter, particularly if some readers have an interest in those arguments.

As Kate as said, politics and religion are integral to the Brothers Karamazov because Dostoevsky made them so, and this was our first group read. There has been much civilised in depth discussion of both text and content in that discussion. Analysis of poetry does not seem to have 'caught on' although pertinent comments have been posted (as well as some unfortunate, impertinent ones:(). Anyone is free to jump in with some textual or character analysis on any topic, as Kate says. This is a new book club so perhaps we are all still finding our feet but it was founded with a view to conducting some serious in depth discussions about books and poetry in a tolerant and pleasant way or, as Chris puts it, with 'the greatest tact and sensitivity.


message 23: by Gail (new)

Gail | 91 comments Oops, I deleted my post, which conflated two different groups. Sorry about that.

I'll try to be tactful, admittedly not my strongest point. *o*

A little impertinence can be a fine thing.


message 24: by MadgeUK (new)

MadgeUK | 5214 comments You have been exceedingly tactful and not at all impertinent Gail, no problems there:).

I look forward to your textual analysis in the poetry threads - that is not my strongest point. I did attempt it with couple of poems but got no takers so gave up.


message 25: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 3582 comments Gail wrote: "I do see that point, Eman; however, I have a bit of a problem with so many book discussions somehow winding up in dissertations about, or at least containing massive digressions into, today's politics..."

I'm with you there.


message 26: by MadgeUK (last edited Dec 07, 2010 09:48PM) (new)

MadgeUK | 5214 comments 'So many'?? There have only been two book discussions on Reader's Review and the latest of these was around a book steeped in politics which looked to the future - indeed, which foretold the rise of communism in Soviet Russia, a subject very pertinent to our own times. And despite the many poems posted by myself and others, there has been practically no discussion of them and no textual analysis. Do those who take the trouble to seek out poetry for the Day or the Month, or write poems, also have to analyse them? If textual analysis is wanted, why have most of the poems been ignored and not commented upon at all? ONE (regrettable) political digression about one author's book has not prevented comment or analysis of the many other poems.

And what about the massive digressions into religious topics like submission, obedience, salvation, redemption etc etc etc and their relevance to reader's everyday lives? Not that I am complaining about those but there is a need for fairness here. Is discussion of the politics of God exempt from criticism?

IMO all that has been needed was for off-topic discussions to be taken more promptly to the Cafe or the Background thread. But this is a new club and such methods have not yet been developed. Our Moderators may also be less willing to intervene to redirect conversations in these early days.


message 27: by Gail (last edited Dec 08, 2010 04:48AM) (new)

Gail | 91 comments Madge: I mentioned above in #23 that I was mentally conflating two groups. I am quite sure you know precisely what I mean. If not, send me a direct message and we can discuss this privately without taking up board space; after all, that's what I'm beginning to dislike: what essentially are private disagreements taking up space on literature threads. What I'm saying here is that I don't want to have this group to evolve into the same off-topic digressions as other groups.

I certainly agree, Madge, that massive digressions into religion--or the poster's lack thereof--have been indulged in too much. Of course I would personally attempt to redirect people to the text, but I believe I saw a couple of posts trying to do that in the TBK group, and those posts were rather ineffectual in their results. Naturally religion and politics are important themes in TBK, but I find lengthy posting about one's personal experiences, whether politcial or religious, more suitable to the Cafe and Background threads.

Please understand that I'm not trying to be argumentative, but to further book discussion. It seems that our little give and take is turning more combative, which I surely don't want.

As to the poetry, I didn't meant to imply that anyone posting a poem had to analyze it; I don't think that can be read into my post. Poetic anyalysis is my weakest point in lit. studies, and I was hoping that the poetry thread would be a place to do that. When I posted a poem, I mentioned just a couple of things, rather lamely at that, noticeable in the poem. I was hoping that I'd see more of that. I wasn't demanding to see more of it. ETA a grammar correction.


message 28: by MadgeUK (last edited Dec 08, 2010 10:26AM) (new)

MadgeUK | 5214 comments I am quite sure you know precisely what I mean

I only now realise what you mean but I am only concerned with this group, which was set up with different criteria. I prefer not to get involved in PM exchanges. We'll move on and I will let the Moderators make decisions about what is a suitable post and what is not. I agree that off-topic exchanges are best moved to the Cafe or Background threads, although this is a specific thread for discussing group improvement suggestions, not a literary thread. As Kate said above 'feel free to speak up and object within a thread when you see a conversation going in inappropriate directions' by asking for the topic to be moved elsewhere.


message 29: by MadgeUK (new)

MadgeUK | 5214 comments BTW everyone, I enjoy most of the religious discussions (some get too deep for me) despite being an atheist, and I like to hear some personal experiences/background because it 'humanises' the discussions and helps me to understand where a person is 'coming from', as they say these days. For a long while I thought Patrice was a bloke and visualised 'him' as a handsome young man, then I learned she was a woman and yesterday I learned she is a granny like me! I enjoyed knowing what Chris was doing in Cather's Nebraska, love hearing about other people's pets, liked Rochelle digressing into dressing up our Avatars and empathised with Everyman having a cold spell. In a club I like to be clubbable with y'all because it makes the Pond seem smaller:D.


Elizabeth (Alaska) I hope it's OK to revive this thread. I would like to see a separate folder for Balzac, in addition to the thread that has been created in the author folder. As there were several who voted for La Comédie Humaine in the most recent poll, perhaps there are several group members who plan to read various titles by Balzac. We may not be reading them all at the same time, but it would be helpful in the future to review what members have said about a specific title in the past, even though the title was not a group read. And Balzac has so many titles, I am hesitant to suggest a buddy read for any of them.


Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.) (captain_sir_roddy) | 1483 comments Mod
Elizabeth (Alaska) wrote: "I hope it's OK to revive this thread. I would like to see a separate folder for Balzac, in addition to the thread that has been created in the author folder. As there were several who voted for La ..."

With respect to authors in our time-period, in languages other than English, you might wish to bear with your moderators for just a bit. We are just now assembling a "Travels Abroad" department for all of you. We hope to make a presentation to the group in the near future. Stay tuned!


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