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Group Reads > The Great Gatsby

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message 1: by Faye (last edited Jul 15, 2011 04:27PM) (new)

Faye | 673 comments Mod
In the Question #58 thread http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/5... Paula had the great idea of revisiting some of the books we were forced to read in high school and see if they are really as bad as we remember or if some maturity brings a better perspective to the classics. Well I say try anything once...

I'm proposing a group read of The Great Gatsby, a book that seems to have been much-loathed in teen years, but must be forced down young throats for some good reason.

If you're game and want to discuss it - this is your thread. It's going to take at least a week for my library to get a copy in, but then I'll commit to reading and posting my thoughts.

I've never been a member of a book club, live or on-line, but if you want to join me, I'd be pleased for the company and any suggestions you have for making this thread a fun and successful one. If we like it, we can pick a new book when we're done this one and keep going.

Cheers.

Edit - July 15, 2011

Okay - I'm so pleased to have so much company. As you may know, Paula has agreed to moderate.

We have decided that we will be making comments about certain chapters in given time frames so that nothing gets spoiled. If you read ahead, you may want to keep notes on your thoughts to post during the appropriate time.

The schedule is:

Chapters 1-3 First Week July 18th

Chapters 4-6 Second Week July 25th

Chapters7-9 Third Week August 1st


2nd Edit, July 15, 2011

Paula's excellent first question - What one word would you use to describe each of these characters: Nick Carraway, Daisy Buchanan, Tom Buchanan & Jay Gatsby?


message 2: by Faye (new)

Faye | 673 comments Mod
Okay. My library has 2 copies (1 large print and 1 regular.) There's a 5 person wait for each. I've signed up for both, but it could be as much as 15 weeks before I get my mitts on one! I'll consider it a good sign that there are at least 5 other people in the world that want to read this book.

hmmm... maybe I'll have to consider a rare purchase. I wonder if our small town book store has a copy?


message 3: by [deleted user] (new)

I am definitely game, I had to also read it in high school but I don't remember it that well. I love the idea though hopefully we get more people so we can keep this going.


message 4: by Paula (new)

Paula (paulay) | 200 comments Faye wrote: "In the Question #58 thread http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/5... Paula had the great idea of revisiting some of the books we were forced to read ..."

I'm in! I'm going through my books to find Gatsby and I'll invite some friends to see if they want to be part of it! When do we start?


message 5: by Mekerei (new)

Mekerei | 204 comments I also read this as a set reader at high school. I'll go to the library and see if I can get it out. Otherwise I'll beg, borrow or steal (not really) a copy.

I'm in!!!


message 6: by Tiffany, Administrator (new)

Tiffany | 1786 comments Mod
I just started reading this this evening but never had to read it in high school. Yes, there was at least *one* person who never read it in high school! Actually, at least 30 -- our Sophomore or Junior class was broken up between two English teachers, and my teacher didn't teach The Great Gatsby, but the other teacher did. So I never ... had to or got to (?) read it, so I'm going back and reading it now.


message 7: by Kristin (new)

Kristin | 221 comments I did not read this in high school, either. Found my husband's copy on our shelves, so I'm in!


message 8: by Faye (new)

Faye | 673 comments Mod
Cool. Glad to have so many takers.

What do you folks think... should people start reading and posting right away? Do we want to try to read to a schedule? do we need any rules or guidelines (fun ones encouraged...?)


message 9: by Caity (new)

Caity (caity_johnson) Just ordered a copy! I actually seem to remember liking this book in high school, but who knows, maybe I'm making that up... In other online book clubs that I have seen, people have set up a timeline for discussions, to help accommodate readers of various speeds. Discussions of chapters 1-4 until this date, 1-8 until the next date, and so on. That way people can read at their own pace and keep notes, and then comment during the appropriate time period without spoiling the book for others.


message 10: by Tiffany, Administrator (new)

Tiffany | 1786 comments Mod
Faye wrote: "What do you folks think... should people start reading and posting right away? Do we want to try to read to a schedule? do we need any rules or guidelines (fun o..."

I'm already plowing through the book, so I'm happy to discuss it whenever anyone else is, in whatever fashion you choose!


message 11: by Faye (new)

Faye | 673 comments Mod
I ordered my copy, too. Which is saying something since I'm a major library user. It should be here within a week or so. *fingers crossed*

I really like Caity's suggestion above that there be a timeframe for discussing chapters. I think we need to give people a week to get a copy of the book and "sign up" for the group if they want.

Could someone with the book in hand tell us how many chapters it has? It says it's 180 pages on http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/46.... That seems like a slim volume. Does 6 weeks from now seem like a reasonable completion date? Too long? Too short? How long do you think you'll want to read the whole thing?


message 12: by Paula (new)

Paula (paulay) | 200 comments Faye wrote: "I ordered my copy, too. Which is saying something since I'm a major library user. It should be here within a week or so. *fingers crossed*

I really like Caity's suggestion above that there be a ti..."


I think four weeks is long enough. And, maybe, once a week post questions and answers? I'll be willing to moderate this book if anybody thinks we need a moderator (since it was my idea to begin with). What does everybody think? Should we start next Monday? July 18th?


message 13: by Kristin (new)

Kristin | 221 comments Four weeks sounds good to me. We could do two chapters the first three weeks and three the last week.


message 14: by Mekerei (new)

Mekerei | 204 comments Good plan Kristin


message 15: by Ivy Sarah (new)

Ivy Sarah Moe (ivysarahmoe) I actually liked it when I read it in high school. It was the summer read so no guided get to chapter x type thing and I got through it in a day.


message 16: by Faye (new)

Faye | 673 comments Mod
Sounds great, Paula. Please do moderate/ ask guided questions. Let me know what the rules/ guidelines are and I'll put them in the first posting of the thread.


message 17: by Paula (new)

Paula (paulay) | 200 comments Faye wrote: "Sounds great, Paula. Please do moderate/ ask guided questions. Let me know what the rules/ guidelines are and I'll put them in the first posting of the thread."

Okay! I'll get to work on it and get back to you asap.


message 18: by [deleted user] (new)

Paula wrote: "Faye wrote: "Sounds great, Paula. Please do moderate/ ask guided questions. Let me know what the rules/ guidelines are and I'll put them in the first posting of the thread."

Okay! I'll get to wor..."


Sounds great to me also! Thnaks Paula and Faye


message 19: by Donna (last edited Jul 12, 2011 03:37PM) (new)

Donna | 1350 comments Faye wrote: "In the Question #58 thread http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/5... Paula had the great idea of revisiting some of the books we were forced to read in..."

You are KILLING me!!! I swore never again, and now you're making me so tempted to go for round four. Are you sure you don't want to try "My Darling, My Hamburger"?


message 20: by Harold (new)

Harold | 119 comments Like most of you I read this in high school. I'll get a copy and join in when the discussion starts. If I'm understanding things correctly discussion starts around August 18th?


message 21: by Faye (new)

Faye | 673 comments Mod
Hi Harold - I think discussion will probably start sometime next week and last for a month. I think we'll probably have timeframes for discussions of each chapter, but the guidelines are still being hammered out.


message 22: by Faye (new)

Faye | 673 comments Mod
Hi Donna - the wait list for my library's "My Darling, My Hamburger"? copy is astronomical, so we're going to have to hold off on that title for now. BTW, what school made you read this ;)


message 23: by Donna (new)

Donna | 1350 comments E.G.H.S., Elk Grove Village, IL, Home of the Grenadiers. I know a lot of people in my age group from other places who've read it, which made me think it might be a 70's thing, but then my goddaughter told me it was on her reading list last year. And the fact that there are a bazillion holds on it tells me it must be holding up. Who'd a thought?


message 24: by Chris (new)

Chris (chrismd) | 408 comments I don't think I hated in high school (or maybe it was college), but I definitely didn't find anything memorable in it. Then one day about ten years ago I had a sleeping baby in my arms and didn't want to go get the book I was reading. Gatsby was within reach, so I started it again. This time I loved it. Sometimes I think good literature - like so much else - is wasted on the young!


message 25: by Susan (new)

Susan (chlokara) | 846 comments Exactly Chris. I wish I could redo college at the age I am now.


message 26: by Donna (new)

Donna | 1350 comments A friend and I were just discussing how college (like youth) is wasted on the young.


message 27: by Casey (new)

Casey | 141 comments I was just thinking of reading this. I wish I could say I want to reread it now that I'm a little older, but in high school we watched the movie instead of reading it, apparently in honors english you're not intelligent enough to actually read a book.


message 28: by Susan (new)

Susan (chlokara) | 846 comments Oh, that's what all our education dollars are going for. All that high priced popcorn!


message 29: by Harold (new)

Harold | 119 comments For me college was definitely wasted on the young. I dropped out of college when I was 20, Had about a C average. I went back and graduated when I was 42. Had a straight A average.


message 30: by Mekerei (last edited Jul 14, 2011 07:41PM) (new)

Mekerei | 204 comments Have to agree with you Harold, did much better as a adult student. I understood how much my bachelor was costing; loss of income while studying and student loan to pay back. Education can be wasted on the young LOL


message 31: by Susan (new)

Susan (chlokara) | 846 comments I'm in for the group read.


message 32: by Tiffany, Administrator (new)

Tiffany | 1786 comments Mod
If Paula doesn't mind, I have a question for those of you who read it in high school (or even college, but more for those from high school, since high school English classes tend to be so different from college classes): When you read The Great Gatsby in class, how was it taught? What did your English teachers say about it? What parts (themes, plots, characterizations, whatever) were focused on? What points were made about it?

At some point in my reading, I started trying to imagine how the English teacher at my high school (Whom I ADORED, but didn't have her for that class, for whatever reason) would have taught it, then started wondering how your teachers taught it.


message 33: by Donna (last edited Jul 15, 2011 01:09PM) (new)

Donna | 1350 comments Tiffany wrote: "If Paula doesn't mind, I have a question for those of you who read it in high school (or even college, but more for those from high school, since high school English classes tend to be so different..."

Metaphor, metaphor, metaphor. There might have been more, but after 30 years? Yeah, metaphor is what I remember.
And Casey, aren't you the lucky girl - we had to do both.


message 34: by Eileen Maddock (new)

Eileen Maddock | 2 comments ok, so look what i found after i said i couldn't find it......
- Eileen


message 35: by Faye (new)

Faye | 673 comments Mod
Please note I've added the following edit to the first post in this thread:

Edit - July 15, 2011

Okay - I'm so pleased to have so much company. As you may know, Paula has agreed to moderate.

We have decided that we will be making comments about certain chapters in given time frames so that nothing gets spoiled. If you read ahead, you may want to keep notes on your thoughts to post during the appropriate time.

The schedule is:

Chapters 1-3 First Week July 18th

Chapters 4-6 Second Week July 25th

Chapters7-9 Third Week August 1st


2nd Edit, July 15, 2011

Paula's excellent first question - What one word would you use to describe each of these characters: Nick Carraway, Daisy Buchanan, Tom Buchanan & Jay Gatsby?


message 36: by Paula (new)

Paula (paulay) | 200 comments Hi, I'm Paula, who will be moderating our reading of Gatsby and I'm looking forward to the next few weeks. I've just started my re-reading of the book and I'm enjoying it.

Tiffany had asked a very interesting questions: how was Gatsby taught to you in High School? For me, it was plot, character - protagonist, antagonist, themes, etc.


message 37: by Faye (new)

Faye | 673 comments Mod
Well I've just finished Chapter 4. I can see why this book would be hated by adolescents, especially those that already had little appreciation for English class. The first couple of pages I was concerned that the cadence of the vocabulary was going to make me regret suggesting The Great Gatsby for this group. If your vernacular is limited to MTV/ Facebook, making your way through this book would be a very slow process as you may have to look up every 3rd word. Since most teenagers probably would not enjoy this process, many might miss the actual actions described with the impressively large and poetic words used by the author.

However, after a few more pages, I discovered that I LOVE the cadence and the vocabulary. I doubt I would have used so many big words in the preceding paragraph if I hadn't found it inspiring.

I also like the perspective of the narrator - an outsider looking into a world of much freedom, wealth and bad behaviour. Which, if you think about it, should be of interest to teenagers if it weren't for the vocabulary.

At this point, it all seems very mysterious and intriguing. I very much look forward to the story that will unfold.

To answer Paula's first question, here goes:

Nick Carraway - outsider
Daisy Buchanan - doll
Tom Buchanan - egoist
Jay Gatsby - orchestrator

The Buchanan's in one word (each) were tough!

And to answer a question Paula didn't ask, one word to describe Jordan Baker - Jaunty - Fitzgerald, after all, uses it at least 3-4 times to describe her.


message 38: by Paula (new)

Paula (paulay) | 200 comments oops - how could I forget Jordan Baker and one word to describe her????

Thanks for the reminder.

And to the readers of Gatsby out there: give your first impressions of the book. I'm holding off on giving mine. I want to moderate and not rush in and opine (I will give mine later on in the week).

Faye has us off to a really good start. Thanks Faye.


message 39: by Harold (new)

Harold | 119 comments My level of interest picked up for me in chapter three. One and two set the stage and introduced charactors and set atmosphere. Gatsby makes his first real appearance in three.

Fitzgerald's writing took me a little while to get used to (as Faye alludes to) but now I'm appreciating it's excellence. Check it out!

The lights grow brighter as the earth lurches away from the sun, and now the orchestra is playing yellow cocktail music, and the opera of voices pitches a key higher. Laughter is easier minute by minute, spilled with prodigality, tipped out at a cheerful word. The groups change more swiftly, swell with new arrivals, dissolve and form in the same breath; already there are wanderers, confident girls who weave here and there among the stouter and more stable, become for a sharp, joyous moment the centre of a group, and then, excited with triumph, glide on through the sea-change of faces and voices and color under the constantly changing light.





message 40: by Susan (new)

Susan (chlokara) | 846 comments I just finished the first three chapters of Gatsby, which I have not read in decades, and I found the book amazingly entertaining and quick and easy to read.

I just reread the section quoted by Harold above, and realized that the writing intentionally puts a distance between the reader and the action, just as Nick is the observer at a distance from the action. The quote actually gives me the feeling that I have an alcoholic buzz going on and I'm wandering around the periphery of a party where everyone seems to be at the center of things except me.

And, as Donna said above, metaphor, metaphor, metaphor -- Gatsby and Nick are on West Egg, looking across the water at East Egg -- the unsophisticated westerners looking across a great gulf at the established rich easterners.

And Daisy and Jordan as first described (one of my favorite quotes):

The only completely stationary object in the room was an enormous couch on which two young women were buoyed up as though upon an anchored balloon. They were both in white, and their dresses were rippling and fluttering as if they had just been blown back in after a short flight around the house. I must have stood for a few moments listening to the whip and snap of the curtains and the groan of a picture on the wall. Then there was a boom as Tom Buchanan shut the rear windows and the caught wind died out about the room, and the curtains and the rugs and the two young women ballooned slowly to the floor.

Their clean whiteness and lightness floating above the world, as compared the the ash pit that Myrtle lives in.

I'm having a little trouble reading it anew "cleanly" -- without bringing in things I remember, or think I remember from my previous reading. For that reason, and because I'm terribly bad at that sort of thing, I don't want to attempt the one word description of each character yet.


message 41: by Donna (new)

Donna | 1350 comments Well, it appears that, like Faye, I'm going to have to break down and buy a copy because I'm still two out on the reserve list & you guys are getting way ahead of me.
Wonderful comments so far, by the way. I'm never going to have anything as salient to say.


message 42: by Harold (new)

Harold | 119 comments Donna wrote: "Well, it appears that, like Faye, I'm going to have to break down and buy a copy because I'm still two out on the reserve list & you guys are getting way ahead of me.
Wonderful comments so far, b..."


Donna - Try this, or alternatively, google "The Great Gatsby"

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/f/fitzg...


message 43: by Susan (new)

Susan (chlokara) | 846 comments I read it online, too, at http://www.publicbookshelf.com/fictio...

It is one of the few things my office has not figured out to block out ;-)


message 44: by Faye (new)

Faye | 673 comments Mod
Thanks for the tips for online reading!


message 45: by Donna (new)

Donna | 1350 comments This is fab Susan, now if I can just convince my employers that this would be the best use of my time while I'm sitting on hold with insurance companies....


message 46: by Tiffany, Administrator (new)

Tiffany | 1786 comments Mod
Susan wrote: "And Daisy and Jordan as first described (one of my favorite quotes):

The only completely stationary object in the room was an enormous couch on which two young women were buoyed up as though upon an anchored balloon. They were both in white, and their dresses were rippling and fluttering as if they had just been blown back in after a short flight around the house. "


Susan, I completely agree with that quote that first introduces Daisy and Jordan. That description, and Jordan perched as if she were balancing something on her chin (which I think Fitzgerald uses twice), will probably stay with me for quite some time. Genius!


message 47: by Tiffany, Administrator (new)

Tiffany | 1786 comments Mod
What one word would I use to describe each of the main characters? Hmmm...

Nick: reporter
Tom: brute
Daisy: dreamgirl
Gatsby: mastermind
Jordan: whimsical

But it seems like the characters are a lot of contradictions, too. Nick isn't *just* the outside reporter; he gets inside a bit, too (But is probably more outside than inside). Daisy isn't *just* the sweet and innocent dreamgirl. Gatsby seems like a mastermind (of parties and plots), but then you find out that in another aspect of his life, he's not as much of the linchpin as he is in his social life. I think that's one interesting thing about the story (at least for me) -- the characters each seem one way (they seem very archetypal/one-dimensional), but then when you stop and think about it, they have a polar opposite side. (Trying not to be spoilery, for those who haven't finished yet.)


message 48: by Tiffany, Administrator (new)

Tiffany | 1786 comments Mod
Faye wrote: "Well I've just finished Chapter 4. I can see why this book would be hated by adolescents, especially those that already had little appreciation for English class. The first couple of pages I was co..."

Faye, from reading Tender Is the Night, various short stories, and now The Great Gatsby, I've also fallen in love with Fitzgerald's cadence. It's like... It's like hearing someone speak the story to me. Maybe it's like hearing Fitzgerald speak the story to me. I almost feel like I know him personally, just based on the cadence and tone of his writing.


message 49: by Paula (new)

Paula (paulay) | 200 comments Hi,

I love reading all the comments. It is hard to forget the ending when you're reading it again. Here's my impressions of the characters:

Nick: snobbish
Daisy: limited
Gatsby: somewhat a dreamer/manipulator?
Jordan: silly
Tom: brute

Fitzgerald's writing is elegant. He was the person who coined the phrase "Jazz Age". His writing style seems to wrap itself around you to get to a point - just like jazz pianist will improvise up and down the keyboard, never quickly playing that melody, but adding layer upon layer upon it until you have many versions to sift through, and decide which is the original tune.

If you wish to see a good movie, I recommend Midnight in Paris, Woody Allen's latest. If you see it, you will understand my recommendation.

More questions for the next section will be coming!


message 50: by Tiffany, Administrator (last edited Jul 23, 2011 12:10PM) (new)

Tiffany | 1786 comments Mod
I have another question for the group... I'm sorry, Paula! I'm not trying to hijack your discussion!

Don't read this question until after you've finished (re-)reading the book. There are no spoilers, I just don't want people reading the book with this question in mind.
Edit: Or, if Paula prefers, this question can be saved until the final week of our discussion.

Apparently, some critics see The Great Gatsby as The Great American Novel. What do you think? Yea or nay? And why do you agree or disagree?


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