Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
especially welcome to extensive readers

Monday, July 04, 2005

All my reading groups are online

I've just finished reading Hand Me Down by Lee Nichols-it was the June Book of the Month pick at ChicklitBooks. Chick Lit books is run by Rian Montgomery(found the site by searching for info on a book called Next Big Thing by Johanna Edwards)and the title speaks for itself. Rian keeps the site very well updated and it's a good place to check out female friendly titles(I like that term,female friendly-have to figure out what the opposite of that would be).

The whole reading group/book club thing,I've only done online. There is a real Jane Austen Book Club(the Fowler book was great,hit all the right notes)and I've been part of it. It's at the Republic of Pemberley,THE best Jane Austen website around. How it works:

A title is selected by the adminstrators-they alternate between a JA book(the books are done in order of publication)and a non-JA but somewhat related book(example,we read a book about the way of life for Regency/Georgian women,The Gentlemen's Daughter).

A schedule is set to discuss certain chapter per week(week 1-chapters 1-5,etc)and at the end,there is a follow-up discussion. Folks are asked not to reveal any plot points beyond the chapters in discussion(there are always newbies who haven't read the book several hundred times like many of us). The reading group is referred to as Group Read(a separate board was recently made to accomedate the GR-before,we posted on either the actual board for the book in question or if it was a non-JA,the Library board).

The best thing about doing a reading group this way is the comfort factor-no worrying about whose house you're going to meet at,what to wear,are we having Chinese food again or what? You can sit in your jammies and post away to your heart's content or just read So-and So's post about why Mary Bennet is the most overlooked character in P&P or how Fanny Price really should've married Henry Crawford,who truly loved her(I firmly disagree on that one) . Those who have read the book usually select a Group Read Focus aka a theme to highlight certain sections of the story. I've done that myself and it makes rereading more fun-one of my GR themes was based on Nabokov's writings on Mansfield Park. Nabokov wasn't a big JA fan but did like MP and compared it to a fairy tale which is what I did. Fanny Price is a very controversal heroine for JA people-folks either like her or find her to be a total milksop. It was a honor for me to be one of the pro-Fanny brigade.

Since Pemberley takes time off in the summer(many of the members go to the Annual Meeting which is held around the country-I went to the one held in England back in '02 and it was one of the best experiences in my life),I decided to give the ChickLit read a chance. I post only moderately on forums(my sister and I share the computer) but try to keep my hand in it. Hand Me Down is a good read-the plot centers around Anne Olsen,the youngest of two highly sucessful sisters,Charlotte and Emily(yep,the names are supposed to be from the Brontes)whose fear of all things used extends to not wanting to date Ian,her sister Charlotte's high school ex, despite the chemistry between them. Lee Nichols herself answered some of our questions(nice-only had that once at ROP)and I'll probaly read her next book.

I think that one of the biggest selling points about the Oprah Book Club is that you avoid the whole "what to read next" discussion-she plunks the book down and that's that,no debate or hurt feelings. Most groups who met in the real world seem to have this struggle. At ROP,we get to suggest what non-JA title gets picked and at ChickLit,Rian set up a poll(there was a three-way tie,so some of us changed our votes to make things easier),which makes the whole process better.

The longest book I read in GR was Tom Jones. Not everyone was able to keep up(took alot of planning for the GR leader to set up a timetable for that baby)but those of us who did had a great time. Another good thing about ROP GRs is that everyone is welcome and if you don't join in one GR,you can wait for the next one without any points taken away. Atleast,that's how I feel about it. Maybe,I'll join one of those reading groups that meet in person someday but for now,the internet provides plenty of good book talk for me.

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