Babble Book Club: Upcoming selection ideas?

431 posts / 0 new
Last post
Caissa

I probably don't say it often enough. Thank you Kaitlin for coming up with the idea of the BBC and thank you for facilitating it.

Kaitlin McNabb Kaitlin McNabb's picture

Oh Caissa, no thanks necessary. Thanks to everyone for participating!

 

Kaitlin McNabb Kaitlin McNabb's picture

Okay! Canada Reads selections are up! (Book bios repurposed from the website without permission)

[British Columbia and Yukon] Carol Huynh (Canadian Olympic wrestler, what what!) defends Richard Wagamese's Indian Horse.

-Saul Indian Horse, an alcoholic Ojibway man who finds himself reflecting on his past when he becomes a reluctant resident of an alcohol treatment cenrte.

[Prairies and North] Ron MacLean (Bantam hockey ref/Don Cherry soundboard) defends David Bergen's The Age of Hope.

-Hope Koop struggle with her safe, steady and predictable life as a wife and mother of four living in small-town Manitoba.

[Ontario] Charlotte Gray (historian/writer) defends Jane Urquhart's Away.

-epic family saga spread across multiple decades and countries, detailing the history of an Irish family in Canada.

[Quebec] Jay Baruchel (Popular Mechanic for Kids teen crush/Goon-writer) defends Hugh MacLennan's Two Solitudes.

-1945 publication of the challenging dichotomies between the French and English.

[Atlantic] Trent McClellan (Canadian comedy media elite) defends Lisa Moore's February. 

-Story about the tragic sinking of the Ocean Ranger oil rig on Valentine's Dayin 1982, with the loss of all 84 abaord.

...

Quite the range of picks.

A couple in my mind I immediately said "no way"

What are others thinking?

 

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Don't sweat it, Caissa. I hear that guy's from the East Coast. You know, one of those people.

Caissa

I like February.

By the way, any thoughts on the guy who is dissing Caissa on the Facebook page. Wink

Kaitlin McNabb Kaitlin McNabb's picture

Internet anonymity will never be revealed!

Also, I'm going to put up a poll in Facebook about the Canada selections and such [join the Facebook BBC group to vote, or let me know your decision here too]. 

Let's get this all nailed down for Sunday, so we can all start our new selection together after BBC with Nik Barry-Shaw!

Caissa

I slogged my way through another chapter last night.

Kaitlin McNabb Kaitlin McNabb's picture

Haha, I'm kind of feeling that way at the moment as well. I think the writing is so far away from what I have been reading for the last couple of years. Maybe if I was still in school I would rip through this, but I find myself dragging my feet...

infracaninophile infracaninophile's picture

I did find a recent book (2011) in the public library, Generation NGO, about the experiences of young Canadians working in various NGO situations abroad. It's more anecdotal and reflective than analytic but definitely presents a nuanced view.

 

As for the next selection, I am not a member of the BBC Facebook group but had a look at the choices and would have chosen "Something Other than A Canada  Reads selection" although in other respects I wouldn't mind re-reading Hugh Maclennan's book, for all that the issues in an concerning Quebec have changed significantly since the era depicted. However I loathe Canada Reads and intend to ignore it.

Kaitlin McNabb Kaitlin McNabb's picture

Thanks infracaninophile! I think the book you found, Generation NGO, would be a great juxtaposition to the current read, as it is a little fact heavy for my liking, but also because 'Paved with Good intentions' really details the hypocrisy of NGOs and it would be interesting to see if people have noted upon that in their experience.

 

As for the next selection, I hear ya on Canada Reads, as do most. The intention would not be to try to boast the program, but explore another window of how CanLit is viewed, and potentially engage with another community's opinon on CanLit. Thanks for voting though anyhow, and I will factor it in! So far the poll goes (including your vote!):

Richard Wagamese's Indian Horse: 5; Lisa Moore's February: 1; Hugh MacLennan'sTwo Solitudes: 1 and none for the other options (well some have said Canada Reads: blah, and then voted for a book, so.)

So we will keep the discussion going for a bit and get everything hammered down for Sunday on if we want Canada Reads choices, or something else. I'm going to check library availability as well.

Kaitlin McNabb Kaitlin McNabb's picture

Well it seems like people are interested in reading Indian Horse, which is great as it has wide availability in libraries and bookstores; however, the downfall (or more than one?) of this book being a part of Canada Reads is that the hold lists for the library are quite, quite long! There seems to be numerous copies at many locations, but I wonder if the same is at bookstores.

Hmm, might prove challenging to find?

infracaninophile infracaninophile's picture

Yep, there is a three-month-long waiting list at my library,despite their having multiple copies.  

Kaitlin McNabb Kaitlin McNabb's picture

yes it is making me double think our plan because I feel like it might be the same case in bookstores and what not...

Caissa

The book is available in local bookstores here in SJ. I saw it Friday. The books are also readily available to order online.

Kaitlin McNabb Kaitlin McNabb's picture

Well that is good for those who want to buy, unfortunately we were trying to work on availability especially for this time around. I am still interested in reading this book, and I think a few others will be as well, but it seems the only option is to purchase it. How are others feeling about that?

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

I can give people pdfs of this novel from my local library in 25-page chunks (it's 232 pages long). I know many of us prefer to read from dead tree, but this is an option. PM me for more info.

infracaninophile infracaninophile's picture

I have reservations, on principle, about selecting (on anything like a regular basis) books that have to be purchased.  I'm a bibliophile but  only buy books that I will read many times or consult as references on a frequent basis. Moreover, I consider being a regular and high-volume public library patron to be a social democratic thing to do. We will only have libraries if we use them, and they are a multifaceted resource and centre of community.  My local branch (a small rural outpost of the Hamilton library) was slated for closure but the pooh-bahs from downtown were stupefied by the size of the crowd that packed the community hall to support the library, which was given a stay of execution. It gives one faith in the power of the written word to see migrant workers and urban commuters joined in common commitment to free availability of books and information. 

So far I've managed to read 3 BBC selections during the reading periods (others I would have had to purchase or were, like Indian Horse, requested for months in advance). Obviously whatever works for the majority is a fair decision, but requiring readers to buy the books will narrow down the participation rate considerably.  Patronising public libraries is also a way to support writers, because library purchases account for substantial sales, and libraries respond to user volume and demand.

Reading a pdf onscreen (I have a desktop computer) is a possibility; I'll check out Catchfire's suggestion.

On balance I'm not onside with an expectation that participants will buy the books chosen.Chacun a son gout, however.(Sorry, can't do accent marks...)

 

 

Left Turn Left Turn's picture

Yeah, I'm not down either with reading a book I can't get from the public library. Like infracaninophile, I only buy books I think I'll read multiple times and/or consult as a reference. I bought Paved With Good Intentions, as it fit my book buying criteria, but The Indian Horse most definitely does not. Nor am I down with the pdf idea; the reading it by pdf I could live with, but having to contact Catchfire every 25 pages is too much of a hassle. So if The Indian Horse is the selection, I'll sit it out.

Kaitlin McNabb Kaitlin McNabb's picture

Thanks for all the input! Really helpful!

Personally, I go back and forth between buying and not buying books, and I really like to use the local library as well -- except currently I am living in the US and having small Canadian publishers, and well just Canadian authors in general, is not really on their agenda, same goes for bookstores, oy, so I have had to buy and ship the last few books, which has been a tad expensive, but I like the idea of supporting those local publishers as well. 

It kind of stinks that this one has so many holds on it because it does seem like an interesting read. From a few others I have talked to, everyone seems pretty pumped about this read, and if Catchfire is suggesting a PDF, well then, I think we should go ahead.

Catchfire, do you think there is a way to make the PDF more readily available, like through google drive? I have to ordered a copy, but I might play around with my phone scanner and see what I can do so Left Turn and Infrancinophile and others can access the book without having to email someone all the time. 

 

Kaitlin McNabb Kaitlin McNabb's picture

The availability thing is always something that is a bit tricky too because in the past when we have read more independent authors, those aren't really available either in libraries, or sometimes anywhere (that NGO book was difficult to track down!). It makes it challenging to pick books that are both on the Canadian/independent/unread and available/accessible. 

Should we all read Atwood?

Caissa

I'm an avid bibliophile whose household probably purchases in excess of 100 books a year. That an music are our only addictions. Purchasing another book here or there is fine with me. I have purchased February and will most likely purchase Indian Horse as well.

The last book I purchased for the BBC was far longer than it had to be.

Kaitlin McNabb Kaitlin McNabb's picture

Also, after some brief, enlightening, research with Kim, we have various ebook forms available through iTunes (I didn't know you could buy books on there), kobo, kindle, etc. all for at least $10 cheaper than the paper form. Also, we are in the process of contacting the publisher in hopes of obtaining some copies of the book for readers unable to get a copy -- nothing has been solidified, but we will keep everyone up-to-date on that.

Okay a bit of a rougher transition than I hoped! My fault! I have been preocupied with some other things. That and baking cookies. 

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Kaitlin, I had planned to put the book up on dropbox or something--the reason I can only get 25-page increments is because that's all my university library allows, in their infintie wisdom of how to make ebooks convenient to its users. It's not ideal, obviously. If we can get other copies, that would be awesome!

Also: please send cookies.

infracaninophile infracaninophile's picture

It kind of stinks that this one has so many holds on it because it does seem like an interesting read.

Frankly, I'm surprised that you're surprised.  The only reason there have been issues of obtaining most of the selections through the public library system is that the timing has been such as to guarantee limited availability.  Of course anything on the Canada Reads list is going to be requested by numerous  library users (whether or not they end up reading it). Additionally, anything that is  only recently published (as was the case with Paved With Good Intentions) will have limited availability -- if any -- because it is not yet in the system.

If it were a priority to select books that were readily available, a huge selection of outstanding possibilities exists. We would simply have to wait a few months to choose Canada Reads selections -- the hoopla will die down soon enough -- and wait 6-12 months for just-published works to make their way into general circulation.  I am puzzled at the seeming need to focus on the new, the media-hyped, or the little-known and obscure.  So many great books out there already, so little time!

Catchfire is extraordinarily generous to offer to send individual participants up to 10 separate pdf's -- I'm not sure whether I would manage to read a whole book onscreen (haven't ever successfully read a whole book on the computer yet), but I'm reluctant to expect him to go to all that trouble. I certainly appreciate his offer however. One of these days I'll invest in an e-reader, but since I live in an electronic "dead zone" (can't even pick up a cell phone signal) one would not be of much use at the moment. I can't beat the service, quality and choice available at the public library; I drop in at least twice a week and pick up several new books to read each time. With online ordering, a volume from another branch will be there for me in 48 hours. If I do buy books, I go through alibris or abebooks, and many excllent books are available used for practically nothing, and in perfect condition too.

So I defer to the will of the group, but the availability issues are mere sequelae to the decisions around timing and selection.

 

 

Kaitlin McNabb Kaitlin McNabb's picture

well put infrancinophile, it was definitely an oversight on my behalf about the whole Canada Reads thing. Surprising was also that there is a seemingly interesting book too. I agree we have hit a strange dichotomy of 'extremely new' and obscure titles, probably to balance out readers and also expose everyone to new titles and new authors. It has been difficult to satisify all needs of BBC members -- it seems with one selection, something fails, with another, something else fails.

I definitely look to everyone in the club about suggestions, since it is diificult to propose, and also not the goal of the club. Being exposed to new authors and works is important and doesn't necessarily work if I alone choose books. Everyone has done a good job receommending reads. Also, I think we have hit a nice stride with reading Canadian authors though, and I would like to carry on, on that road.

About Indian Horse, I have contacted the publisher to see about obtaining copies for those readers who are unable to get copies through the library. We will see how that goes and what comes of it. I don't mind post-poning this read until another time when books are readily available, I am just in the middle of waiting for the publisher's response.

In the mean time, are there books out there that hit the criteria of: (1) Canadian author, (2) available in libraries, (3) available in bookstores (preferably independent), that anyone would like to suggest. Also, we dicussed this time reading fiction to balance out the non-ficition we just read.

Again, I have suggested People Park by Pasha Malla which is a wide enough release to be available everywhere.

 

Thanks!

Kaitlin McNabb Kaitlin McNabb's picture

(also, yes Catchfire! incredibly nice offer! you = best)

Caissa

I would be very pleased if someone, anyone would just pick a book. Wink

I'm purchasing Indian Horse tomorrow regardless of what book gets chosen.

Maybe there was something good on the socialis science fiction list from a few weeks ago.

Kaitlin McNabb Kaitlin McNabb's picture

[warning: this post has a bit of "real talk" in it]

Just thinking on this subject, obsessively, and the repeated issues that books like Paved with Good Intentions and Indian Horse have raised about availability, I feel the need to re-emphasize that inclusivity and availability is something BBC strives for. A couple selections have fallen short of that mark, and for the most part everyone has been patient and understanding.

I feel the need to apologize for the lack of fluidity in the transitions between books, as well as some discussion areas. Issues of time zones, author discussion, availability, etc., are exacerbated by the fact that my work at rabble is on a volunteer basis, so unforutnately, it is not always my number one priority, and also by the feelings of being "poked at" leading to a bit of a disheartening mood towards the club. It is a bit difficult to work in the vacuum of rabble, satisfy most reader, and have participation during conversations, all while feeling like you are do a bad job.

On that note, I really like doing BBC, obviously, and I hope I can make things a bit smoother soon, and always appreciate everyone's input on that matter, as while as the necessary contributions to the club. The club was built around the idea of sharing books and authors we like, discussing writing, and exposing others to unfamiliar authors or genres we might not readily read. I am well aware of the problems surrounding our dichotomy of selections, quickness of transitions, and inclusive participation. It is something I am working on and will hopefully have down to a science soon enough.

So, how about let's start fresh with new selection, as mentioned above, one that will be easy to access for everyone and a good read. We will sideline Indian Horse for another time down the road -- because it does seem like a good read -- and choose something new that everyone can read through over the holidays and beyond.

Kaitlin McNabb Kaitlin McNabb's picture

Caissa, I hear ya on that one. If we don't have objections before tomorrow, I'm pulling the trigger with People Park because I keep bringing it up and we need to start reading!

Tomorrow morning, I'm going have a new babble thread up for everyone! Laughing

Caissa

Kaitlin, I think you are doing an awesome job with BBC.  You have nothing to apologize for and have gone above and beyond the call of duty on founding and coordinating it. We BBC denizens are comparable to herding cats. Somehow you seem to get us in the corral. Hats off to you for that and everything else you do.

Kaitlin McNabb Kaitlin McNabb's picture

Thanks Caissa, definitely wasn't writing all that stuff to get some shout outs, although much appreciated. Embarassed

I would like to make BBC better for everyone involved, and I think the issues brought forth are important ones that we have recently moved a bit away from, for whatever reason. The critique of the club is always appreciated and very useful, sometimes I get a little, well over-sensitive about things. Shocking I know -- I mostly don't have a heart for things except animals and my partner. 

But we all like chatting about books and reading books, and this is a good place for it. I would like to know if people like the final discussion we hold, and what times work best. We have tried a few and I'm still not sure of the best results...

So again, for this chaotic selection: last ditch efforts for books and I'll do the random selection ,or if none, well we'll just take a chance on my personal selection!

Left Turn Left Turn's picture

Kaitlin McNabb wrote:

Caissa, I hear ya on that one. If we don't have objections before tomorrow, I'm pulling the trigger with People Park because I keep bringing it up and we need to start reading!

Tomorrow morning, I'm going have a new babble thread up for everyone! Laughing

People Park sounds like an interesting read. It's got a wait list at the Vancouver Library, but is available at the Burnaby Library.

Left Turn Left Turn's picture

Kaitlin McNabb wrote:

I would like to make BBC better for everyone involved, and I think the issues brought forth are important ones that we have recently moved a bit away from, for whatever reason. The critique of the club is always appreciated and very useful, sometimes I get a little, well over-sensitive about things. Shocking I know -- I mostly don't have a heart for things except animals and my partner. 

But we all like chatting about books and reading books, and this is a good place for it. I would like to know if people like the final discussion we hold, and what times work best. We have tried a few and I'm still not sure of the best results...

First off, I apologize for the limited availability of Paved With Good Intentions. It was available at the Vancouver Library, so figured it would be available in the other major library systems across the country as well.

A few thoughts about the "final" discussion. I'd personally prefer if we could get away from the "final" discussion model for the book club. I noticed with the Paved With Good Intentions discussion that the comments I made prior to the "final" discussion hour were ignored by everyone except yourself, Kaitlin. I'd prefer if the discussion thread could develop more organically than what the one hour "final" discussion results in.

What I do think would be useful would be a discussion "start" time. Give us 3-4 weeks to read the book, in which there's no discussion. I'd prefer it if most of the discussion were not taking place before the set discussion time, as I tend to like to read the whole book before I discuss it.

If there is to be a set discussion time, I'd prefer a weekend evening, pacific time. I know this puts it later for folks on the east coast, but maybe 5 or 6 pm pacific time would be workable? Weekday evenings and weekend afternoons I often have stuff on, which often makes these times less than ideal for me.

Kaitlin McNabb Kaitlin McNabb's picture

Left Turn no apologies necessary about Paved with Good Intentions, it was a good choice, and despite limited availability I pushed it through because, well at the time, the author was enthusiastic to talk about it !Wink 

Also thanks for the input on discussion time and structure. Unfortunately, I think the weekends don't work well for the majority as per a past conversation when I used to schedule them all on Sunday. I can definitely schedule a later discussion to better suit both EST and PST (around 8-8:30), but our folks in the maritimes might find that too late! Canadian time zones are tricky to accomodate for sure -- still working on that curve.

About the 'final' discussion structure, I still like the idea of discussing as we go because I know some people prefer not to discuss the final for various reasons. I would like to stay with that format where the thread is open to all IF they want to throw down opinions while they are reading. The 'final' discussion date was meant to be a time when all aspects of the book could be discussed and more of a closure to the read. Everyone here seems to either do this: read the book in one day on the first day (ahem, Caissa, I'm looking at you. Ha) or read the book in one day on the last day (this is me, usually). I think that structure can continue to work and readers can check in on the thread when they choose to submit their p.o.v. Let's keep giving it a go with the way we have it and I will do a better job moderating by bringing past points forward for discussion.

 

Caissa

I'm not buying the book unil Dec 27. Tongue out

Kaitlin McNabb Kaitlin McNabb's picture

don't let the haters change you Caissa.Wink

Caissa

I'll still have the book finished by New Year's day. Wink

Kaitlin McNabb Kaitlin McNabb's picture

I've recently become a bit obsessed with Leanne Shapton, and subsequently am dying to read her latest book 'Swimming Studies' which is her memoir about competitive swimming. It is supposed to be very interesting and offers more meditations and reflections than just those of the pool and pool life. As per her usual style, she has incorporated drawings and paintings into the novel as well.

Thought I would just throw it out there as book stuff, but am not sure it is right for BBC as since it is relatively new release, Summer 2012, library holds seem to be long at the branches I have checked out; although she is Canadian, the book is printed by a USA publisher, Penguin USA, which is a big corporate publisher, and well yes.

Anyhow, let's talk books again if you want! I'm started to comb through my goodreads (just started; good aggregator of ideas) for ideas for next pick!

Kaitlin McNabb Kaitlin McNabb's picture

Stumbled upon this GG winner (late in the game) through some CanLit sleuthing: Cool Water by Dianne Warren 

Probably not new to anyone but myself, but of all the reviews I have read seems like it is really, really, really good. And bonus! it is about Saskatchewan.

Here is the Quill and Quire review (3 stars -- I don't really know how Q&Q works) and description from the publisher.

But the heart of the town beats in the rich and overlapping stories of its people: the foundling who now owns the farm his adoptive family left him; the pregnant teenager and her mother, planning a fairytale wedding; a shy couple, well beyond middle age, struggling with the recognition of their feelings for one another; a camel named Antoinette; and the ubiquitous wind and sand that forever shift the landscape. Their stories bring the prairie desert and the town of Juliet to vivid and enduring life. 

Left Turn Left Turn's picture

I don't suppose we'd be up to reading Les Miserables, would we? I know it's not Canadian (not that I ever thought that should be a restriction for the BBC), and it's over a thousand pages in legth... but I'm on a big Les Mis kick since I saw the movie yesterday.

Kaitlin McNabb Kaitlin McNabb's picture

I don't know if a 1000 page book would go over well for BBC -- just seems too long. (I think we are pushing it with the 350+ at points.)

I, myself, am not too interested in reading Les Mis ...

 

Kaitlin McNabb Kaitlin McNabb's picture

Psychology and Other Stories by C.P. Boyko looks like an interesting read:

From Georgia Straight:

ONE OF THE most unfairly slept-on books of 2012, C. P. Boyko’s Psychology and Other Stories (Biblioasis) tackles mental health and the professionals who assess it from six diverse yet tightly controlled angles. These are stories with many moving parts and a range of styles and settings, from tender coming-of-age tales to intra-family corporate takeovers. But they all have psychologists and psychiatrists circling the periphery, and it’s rarely clear whether anyone’s lives are improved by having them around.

From Quill & Quire:

There is no story called “Psychology” in C.P. Boyko’s second collection. Instead, Boyko’s stories boldly assert that the practice of psychology – along with its cousins, psychiatry, psychotherapy, and self-help – is a type of fiction. These sciences of the mind, the stories suggest, almost always fail to produce the intended results. In the hands of a lesser writer, this pervading theme  – far too obvious to be considered subtext – might cause a reader to grow weary over the course of six stories. However, Boyko never becomes preachy or didactic, and the work retains a generous sense of humour throughout. 

Kaitlin McNabb Kaitlin McNabb's picture

Rolling back on previous suggestions, I think Taras Grescoe's Strap Hanger looks like a great non fiction read on cities and the transportation issues that plague them. From the reviews I have read, it seems like it does a nice job of exploring a variety of cities, particularly European ones (as they are the model for non-car transit) and also three major Canadian cities are devoted a chapter each.

Spoiler alert: Montreal and Vancouver are presented with hope and somewhat positivity whereas Toronto is presented as a tragedy. 

A few people have suggested this read before, and it looks like the availability is opening up again in libraries. Should we go for it for next selection?

Left Turn Left Turn's picture

I'd also like to bring back my previous suggestion of Something Fierce: Memoirs of a Revolutionary Daughter by Carmen Aguirre.

And I'd also ask that there be some actual discussion of the selection before a book gets picked. There was no discussion of Cool Water before it was picked as the current selection. Merely suggesting it does not a discussion make.

Kaitlin McNabb Kaitlin McNabb's picture

I agree, but it is difficult to have a discussion when people choose not to weigh in. I think a lot of people are happy to read whatever is selected, or wait until something strikes their fancy.

In the interest of keeping things rolling with books, Cool Water was selected right away so people could keep reading.

This thread is always open to drop selections, and I usually give plenty of notice (or have been more focused on that lately) for selection ideas. For my last suggestion, I went back through the thread to find other books members have suggested, so don't worry, the book ideas aren't just coming from me and have been discussed at some point!

I think in lieu of conversation at the moment about our selections, it is the best bet to take from what we have already considered reading, and hopefully more discussion will start up soon!

kim elliott kim elliott's picture

Hi Kaitlin, I have some hurry up reading to do but am really glad to be reading Cool Water, it is not something I would have picked up on my own. In terms of next selections, how about Ru by Kim Thuy (translated by Sheila Fishman) or Thomas King's Inconvenient Indian (or an earlier book like the Truth About Stories ot his edited volume Our Stories). In terms of how books are chosen, seems like you've tried a few methods. I'm a fan of the poll, but another method could be to give each book club member a turn at selecting. Or, you could just select on your own based on the various suggestions (randomly?).

Kaitlin McNabb Kaitlin McNabb's picture

Thanks Kim.

I think the poll has probably worked the best so far with the hybrid system of getting members to make the suggestions and aggregating them into the poll! It seems like a good way to get a mixture of genres/writers/publishers and keep everyone happy for the most part!

I think I will start the poll as we have four suggestions now, and we can always add more too! I like your suggestion on Ru -- it was nominated for a few translation awards thing year from various awards organizations. It's availability looks potentially complicated because it is still pretty new, but there seems to be a ton of copies at the libraries and good circulation too.

I've put up the facebook poll to vote! For those that aren't members and want to be, I can add you to the facebook group when you request to join. And for those who aren't members and don't want to be, please just leave your vote below and I'll incorporate it in!

1.  Ru by Kim Thuy (translated by Sheila Fishman)

2. Straphander by Taras Grescoe

3. Something Fierce by Carmen Aguirre

4. Inconvenient Indian by Thomas King

Unionist

The Inconvenient Indian. I hope to start reading it tomorrow.

 

Kaitlin McNabb Kaitlin McNabb's picture

Cool thanks Unionist.

Caissa

I've read Indian Horse. I would unreservedly recommend it.

Pages