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Chaos Reading Bookclub > Ideas for Themed Reads

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message 1: by Ruby , Mistress of Chaos (new)

Ruby  Tombstone Lives! (rubytombstone) | 3260 comments Mod
Since we're doing future group reads by theme, I wondered if people had some great theme ideas to throw out there?

Some more info on the themed reads:
The idea is this: I pick a theme, we each nominate a book that in some way reflects the theme. The group votes on a book for the next Group Read. We read & discuss the winning book. All the nominated themed books will go up on a group shelf afterwards too.

The book you nominate for the group read doesn't have to reflect the theme in a literal sense. The connection between book and theme can be anything at all, as esoteric a connection as you like. Just post an explanation with your nomination to let us know why you think the book speaks to that theme.


message 2: by Theo (new)

Theo | 159 comments How about "Lost & Found"?


message 3: by Ruby , Mistress of Chaos (new)

Ruby  Tombstone Lives! (rubytombstone) | 3260 comments Mod
That's a great idea. Exactly the sort of thing I was looking for.


message 4: by Emy (new)

Emy | 34 comments Hmmm... "Betrayal". :)


message 5: by Genevieve (new)

Genevieve (genevievedeguzman) | 7 comments Prodigal sons (or daughters).


message 6: by Anna (new)

Anna Kļaviņa (annamatsuyama) | 114 comments Aloofness


message 7: by Ruby , Mistress of Chaos (new)

Ruby  Tombstone Lives! (rubytombstone) | 3260 comments Mod
Nice! I'm liking these. I think "Lost & Found" is a really good one. Keen to think of some more themes that could have multiple meanings....
How about:
-Graphic (visual style, or really explicit!)
-Light (could be about weight or illumination, real or allegorical)
-Barriers (things that impede our progress, physical barriers like walls etc)

I'm also keen to look at a theme that could incorporate architecture and buildings, but in a really broad sense. I've come across quite a few books recently that heavily incorporate those themes: a half-built apartment complex, a city within the walls of an ancient palace, cities as personalities, a never-ending public art sculpture, urban graffiti etc etc


message 8: by Vlad (new)

Vlad Vaslyn (vlad_v) I'd like to take part in this! It sounds like fun!


message 9: by Nasrul (new)

Nasrul (nasrulekram) | 41 comments Ruby wrote: "Nice! I'm liking these. I think "Lost & Found" is a really good one. Keen to think of some more themes that could have multiple meanings....
How about:
-Graphic (visual style, or really explicit!)
..."


I like light! It'd make a fantastic theme.

I have a couple of homographs too:

- Zero
- Dense


message 10: by Nicholas (new)

Nicholas (dexkilo) | 87 comments Ruby wrote: I'm also keen to look at a theme that could incorporate architecture and buildings, but in a really broad sense. I've come across quite a few books recently that heavily incorporate those themes: a half-built apartment complex, a city within the walls of an ancient palace, cities as personalities, a never-ending public art sculpture, urban graffiti etc etc..."

Ooh ooh! Please do "cities as personalities." I have the perfect book for that (assuming it's chosen, of course).


message 11: by Ruby , Mistress of Chaos (new)

Ruby  Tombstone Lives! (rubytombstone) | 3260 comments Mod
Vlad wrote: "I'd like to take part in this! It sounds like fun!"

Well, the first themed read (Insects) is getting up and running. The books have all been nominated, but they've gone up as a group poll which is still open. You can vote on the book you'd prefer to read at least! http://www.goodreads.com/poll/show/67...

Nicholas wrote: "Ooh ooh! Please do "cities as personalities." I have the perfect book for that (assuming it's chosen, of course). "

Are you going to suggest China Miéville? :)


message 12: by Derek (new)

Derek (derek_broughton) | 782 comments LOL. I can see a poll containing five books by Miéville, and one by somebody we've never heard of.


message 13: by Nicholas (last edited Jun 20, 2012 06:25AM) (new)

Nicholas (dexkilo) | 87 comments It was actually going to be Word Made Flesh. I guess I just want an excuse to re-read it, and I want to make other people read it too.

ETA: the theme could be "cities as personalities, but no Miéville."


message 14: by Whitney (new)

Whitney | 1321 comments Mod
Ruby wrote: "Nicholas wrote: "Ooh ooh! Please do "cities as personalities." I have the perfect book for that (assuming it's chosen, of course). "

Are you going to suggest China Miéville? :) ..."


I'd back Invisible Cities in that category against all comers.


message 15: by Nicholas (new)

Nicholas (dexkilo) | 87 comments Whitney wrote: "I'd back Invisible Cities in that category against all comers."

Looks really cool. TBR'd.


message 16: by Ruby , Mistress of Chaos (new)

Ruby  Tombstone Lives! (rubytombstone) | 3260 comments Mod
Nice! Well, I think we can count on that topic for a future themed read :)


message 17: by Ruby , Mistress of Chaos (new)

Ruby  Tombstone Lives! (rubytombstone) | 3260 comments Mod
A. wrote: "Nicholas wrote: "Whitney wrote: "I'd back Invisible Cities in that category against all comers."

Looks really cool. TBR'd."
Me too. ..."


Me three.


message 18: by Whitney (new)

Whitney | 1321 comments Mod
Ruby wrote: "A. wrote: "Nicholas wrote: "Whitney wrote: "I'd back Invisible Cities in that category against all comers."

Looks really cool. TBR'd."
Me too. ..."

Me three."


Yay! It's a great book, I promise!


message 19: by literariel (new)

literariel *stomps fist on a table*

Vampires.


message 20: by Kim N (new)

Kim N (crossreactivity) outside the box


message 21: by Derek (new)

Derek (derek_broughton) | 782 comments Ariel wrote: "*stomps fist on a table*"

Doesn't that hurt? I'm long past being flexible enough to stomp my own fist...


message 22: by Whitney (new)

Whitney | 1321 comments Mod
Derek wrote: "Ariel wrote: "*stomps fist on a table*"

Doesn't that hurt? I'm long past being flexible enough to stomp my own fist..."


I can do it if I take my shoe off and hit my hand with it. Does that count?


message 23: by Ruby , Mistress of Chaos (new)

Ruby  Tombstone Lives! (rubytombstone) | 3260 comments Mod
Anna wrote: "unreliable narrator"

I've never quite understood what that means. Who's to call any narrator reliable?


message 24: by Derek (new)

Derek (derek_broughton) | 782 comments Whitney wrote: "I can do it if I take my shoe off and hit my hand with it. D..."

I'm sure it counts. I'm barely flexible enough to take my shoes off, now!


message 25: by Elise (new)

Elise (Geordielass) | 171 comments "A journey" - to be interpreted any way you like!


message 26: by Anna (last edited Jun 23, 2012 06:12PM) (new)

Anna Kļaviņa (annamatsuyama) | 114 comments Ruby wrote: "Anna wrote: "unreliable narrator"

I've never quite understood what that means. Who's to call any narrator reliable?"


I deleted my nomination before I saw your comment because I come to conclusion that unreliable narrator is not theme.

While we can argue that all narrators are not 100% reliable however in some case the author deliberately use unreliable narrator as narrative device.

Good example of unreliable narrator is this books Florence and Giles

I like this definition: An unreliable narrator typically displays characteristics or tendencies that indicate a lack of credibility or understanding of the story. Whether due to age, mental disability or personal involvement, an unreliable narrator provides the reader with either incomplete or inaccurate information as a result of these conditions. Lack of alignment with the "tastes, judgements, [and] moral sense" of the implied author is a determining factor in a narrator's unreliability.The use of a main character with a mental disability or a skewed perspective is indicative of unreliability as well as the under-developed perspective of a child narrator.


message 27: by Ruby , Mistress of Chaos (new)

Ruby  Tombstone Lives! (rubytombstone) | 3260 comments Mod
Thanks Anna. I've enjoyed books with obviously "unreliable narrators" before - I like anything that adds an interesting twist. I do think that in many books it's interesting to consider the perspective of the narrator, though. I think if it's well written, any book narrated by a character involved in the story should have a degree of "unreliability".

I'm struggling to explain this well, but an example that springs to mind is Breaking News: An Autozombiography. The first part of the book reads as if the characters are two-dimensional, particularly the girlfriend of the protagonist. She comes across as the stereotypical "dumb female", which is really irritating. But then when you consider that the story is told from the perspective of a 30-something "bloke", as his diary, you start realising that the narrative is his understanding of his girlfriend's actions. As the story progresses you do see both characters grow, which helps reinforce the point. I don't think anyone would categorise that book as being specifically told by an "unreliable narrator", but it started me thinking that this is something a lot of writers don't address very thoroughly.

My review of that book probably explains it a little better: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/...


message 28: by Whitney (new)

Whitney | 1321 comments Mod
Ruby wrote: "I think if it's well written, any book narrated by a character involved in the story should have a degree of "unreliability"...."

My favorite use of unreliable narrators has to be by Kazuo Ishiguro, who I've mentioned in other contexts. In some of his books there's sort of a creeping inkling of the degree of self-deception of his characters, until it suddenly kicks you in the head and completely changes your understanding of the story.


message 29: by Ruby , Mistress of Chaos (new)

Ruby  Tombstone Lives! (rubytombstone) | 3260 comments Mod
Thanks for reminding me. I need to pack those to go up north with me!


message 30: by Ruby , Mistress of Chaos (new)

Ruby  Tombstone Lives! (rubytombstone) | 3260 comments Mod
Hey, what about something like: "Living Architecture" or "Buildings Alive" or "The Walls Have Eyes"? Or would you rather go "Places With Personalities"?

I'm just wondering which would get the broadest range of nominations, including everything from cities-as-personalities (which a few of us have nominations for) but also haunted-houses and people-living-underground etc etc


message 31: by Nicholas (new)

Nicholas (dexkilo) | 87 comments Ruby wrote: "Hey, what about something like: "Living Architecture" or "Buildings Alive" or "The Walls Have Eyes"? Or would you rather go "Places With Personalities"?

I'm just wondering which would get the broa..."


It seems like "Places with Personalities" would produce the broadest range of nominations out of the themes you listed. In addition to cities, buildings, architecture, etc., it could be interpreted to include the natural environment as well if you wish.

If not, you could use the words "Built Environment" to limit the topic. Maybe something like "Personalities in the Built Environment." I'm not necessarily advocating for this idea, just throwing out an option to remove nature from consideration if so desired.

I have two books in mind that I think would fit very nicely, though I'm not optimistic about their chances against Whitney's choice in the poll.. And I'd be stoked to read that one as well.


message 32: by Ruby , Mistress of Chaos (new)

Ruby  Tombstone Lives! (rubytombstone) | 3260 comments Mod
Thanks Nicholas. You're spot on with the intention behind "Places With Personalities" - I was hoping to include natural environments as well.


message 33: by Jon (new)

Jon Sindell | 38 comments Whitney wrote: "Ruby wrote: "I think if it's well written, any book narrated by a character involved in the story should have a degree of "unreliability"...."

My favorite use of unreliable narrators has to be by ..."


Oh, my, Whitney, one of my favorite all-time stories is Ishiguro's "A Village After Dark" read beautifully by author Ben Marcus on The New Yorker Fiction Podcast. Talk about unreliable! Such a haunting story. The reading is preceded and followed by a discussion between Marcus and New Yorker fiction editor Deborah Treisman. You can find the podcast at this link to the "Cool Lit Links" page of my fiction blog:
http://jstevensonstories.blogspot.com...

Enjoy!


message 34: by Jon (new)

Jon Sindell | 38 comments For cities with personalities ...

Los Angeles is a city with a big complex personality, and the city is a gargantuan figure on the world stage which, love it or hate it, must be reckoned with. Novels in which L.A. figures as a character would include The Day of the Locust by Nathaniel West, Play It as It Lays by Joan Didion, and I suppose anything by Raymond Chandler (attempted quotation concerning the Santa Ana winds on those hot L.A. summer nights; please forgive errors: "It was the kind of night on which meek housewives feel the edge of the kitchen knife and study their husband's necks.")


message 35: by Whitney (new)

Whitney | 1321 comments Mod
Jon wrote: "one of my favorite all-time stories is Ishiguro's "A Village After Dark" read beautifully by author Ben Marcus on The New Yorker Fiction Podcast...."

Just listened to this, excellent, thanks for the pointer! "The Unconsoled" is next on my Ishiguro reading list, have you read it yet? I assume you've already listened to the podcast from the week after this one, with Rushdie reading Barthelme, but if not it's also a good one.


message 36: by Jon (new)

Jon Sindell | 38 comments Whitney wrote: "Jon wrote: "one of my favorite all-time stories is Ishiguro's "A Village After Dark" read beautifully by author Ben Marcus on The New Yorker Fiction Podcast...."

Just listened to this, excellent, ..."


I'm so glad you liked it, Whitney! I've listened to it repeatedly! I've read nothing else by Ishiguro, but I'm sure I will. And thanks for your podcast tips. I love to load New Yorker Fiction onto my iPod for long walks. This page on my blog -- Whitney, everyone -- lists my all-time fave New Yorker Fiction podcasts. Wonderful world of connectivity!
http://jstevensonstories.blogspot.com...


message 37: by Ruby , Mistress of Chaos (new)

Ruby  Tombstone Lives! (rubytombstone) | 3260 comments Mod
Just a quick note for those who had book ideas on "Places With Personalities", the nominations thread is now open: http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/9...


message 38: by Ruby , Mistress of Chaos (last edited Jul 02, 2012 08:29AM) (new)

Ruby  Tombstone Lives! (rubytombstone) | 3260 comments Mod
Whoa. I have (what I think is) an awesome idea for a future theme:
"Define Magic"

I've just read an Ursula Le Guin short story, Solitude - and had my mind officially blown. Without giving the whole story away, it's based on a girl growing up in an alien society completely different to her mother's (which seems fairly Western/European). A large part of the difference between cultures is the concept of "magic". In the girl's culture, "magic" is about having power over somebody else. Her society believes that this magic/power is evil and to be avoided at all costs. Her mother thinks "magic" is about "primitive superstition".

I would love to see a future group read nomination round for books that explore the concept of "magic" in unusual ways... (ie other than wizards and fairies). Are there many books that cover this do you think?


message 39: by Derek (new)

Derek (derek_broughton) | 782 comments Ruby wrote: "Whoa. I have (what I think is) an awesome idea for a future theme:
'Define Magic'..."


Excellent idea - it leads also to various interpretations of Clarke's law, where "magic" may or may not simply be advanced technology (a great deal of Jack Chalker for instance, though I can't say I'd want to be responsible for introducing him to anyone who hasn't read him before...).


message 40: by Whitney (new)

Whitney | 1321 comments Mod
Derek wrote: Excellent idea - it leads also to various interpretations of Clarke's law, where"magic" may or may not simply be advanced technology..."

And THAT makes me think of The Urth of the New Sun series, where that is exactly what's going on. Set in the far far far distant future, on the surface it's a 'fantasy' novel with medievil style guilds and seeming elements of magic, but underneath it are glimpses of the decayed technology on which this society sits.


message 41: by Elise (last edited Jul 09, 2012 04:30AM) (new)

Elise (Geordielass) | 171 comments Whitney wrote: "Derek wrote: Excellent idea - it leads also to various interpretations of Clarke's law, where"magic" may or may not simply be advanced technology..."

And THAT makes me think of The Urth of the New..."


That was what came to mind for me too, Whitney, I remember reading what I thought was a fantasy novel and suddenly there were defunct rockets and I realised it was actually science fiction. Odd at the moment when suddenly you go through a 180 degree shift, but an excellent series.


message 42: by Derek (new)

Derek (derek_broughton) | 782 comments Whitney wrote: "Derek wrote: Excellent idea - it leads also to various interpretations of Clarke's law, where"magic" may or may not simply be advanced technology..."

And THAT makes me think of The Urth of the New Sun..."


Right - and some of the Eric Van Lustbader novels would be similar.


message 43: by Derek (new)

Derek (derek_broughton) | 782 comments Elise wrote: " I remember reading a fantasy novel and suddenly there were defunct rockets and I realised it was actually science fiction."


Anne McCaffrey's Pern series... imo, an attempt to give a pseudo-scientific basis to pure fantasy: but it probably does fit the category of "Define magic" quite well.


message 44: by Whitney (new)

Whitney | 1321 comments Mod
My Little Pony: Butterfly Hunt creates magic in a young girl's heart.


message 45: by Elise (new)

Elise (Geordielass) | 171 comments Derek wrote: "Elise wrote: " I remember reading a fantasy novel and suddenly there were defunct rockets and I realised it was actually science fiction."


Anne McCaffrey's Pern series... imo, an attempt to give..."


I thought of them too when the Book of the New Sun series came to mind, more fantasy that turns out to be sci-fi, but much as I loved them in my teens, I don't know if I could bear to re-read the Pern novels now. I thought that the writing was going from bad to worse as the series went on, but I suspect part of that was me growing out of them too.


message 46: by Whitney (new)

Whitney | 1321 comments Mod
One more in the "science as magic" category, Roadside Picnic, where incomprehensible artifacts (essentially alien trash) left behind on earth creates zones with seemingly supernatural events.


message 47: by Ruby , Mistress of Chaos (new)

Ruby  Tombstone Lives! (rubytombstone) | 3260 comments Mod
I'm sorry, but every time one of you mentions Pern, I see this. Please stop....




message 48: by Elise (last edited Jul 09, 2012 04:21AM) (new)

Elise (Geordielass) | 171 comments How about "banned/censored/challenged books" as a bookshelf or themed read. Books that are currently banned anywhere in the world, or have been banned in the past.

This is a useful list if anyone is interested: http://www.banned-books.org.uk/all


message 49: by Ruby , Mistress of Chaos (last edited Jul 09, 2012 05:31AM) (new)

Ruby  Tombstone Lives! (rubytombstone) | 3260 comments Mod
FYI - We have another thread elsewhere with one of those banned books lists if you're interested.

Personally, I'd think most reasonably well known books have been banned somewhere in the world at some time or other though. It feels a little meaningless to me. I'm also a bit disinclined to read something on the basis that someone else banned it. Keen to see what others think though.


message 50: by Ruby , Mistress of Chaos (new)

Ruby  Tombstone Lives! (rubytombstone) | 3260 comments Mod
So does anyone have any preferences for the next theme? I'm wondering if we could even just get people to nominate books they wished had gotten up in previous polls. But it might be too soon for doing retrospectives!


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