Unofficial GWJ Book Club - Thanks, All.

Awesome. I had to bail for the fiction stuff due to time constraints, but this looks good.

Liyana wrote:

We said that we're probably doing How We Decide by Johan Lehrer next month as a nonfiction pick, and it's the daily deal for the amazon kindle store today- grab it quick if that's your chosen media!

Done. Thanks!

Glad so many of you were able to get the Lehrer book!

NSMike wrote:

I am just going to say that I am seriously favoring this book as a future pick for our group, even if we go with "How We Decide" for next month.

Not to sound like a total snot (while sounding like a total snot), but I don't really do any Stephen King that wasn't written before 1990. How about we tackle Different Seasons and talk about how two of the novellas from this work went on to be, not only King's best film adaptations, but two of the greatest movies of our generation (Stand by Me and The Shawshank Redemption)? We could also talk about why die hard King fans of the 80s won't touch what he puts out now!

Liyana wrote:

Glad so many of you were able to get the Lehrer book!

NSMike wrote:

I am just going to say that I am seriously favoring this book as a future pick for our group, even if we go with "How We Decide" for next month.

Not to sound like a total snot (while sounding like a total snot), but I don't really do any Stephen King that wasn't written before 1990. How about we tackle Different Seasons and talk about how two of the novellas from this work went on to be, not only King's best film adaptations, but two of the greatest movies of our generation (Stand by Me and The Shawshank Redemption)? We could also talk about why die hard King fans of the 80s won't touch what he puts out now! :)

You sound like such a snot
Although I tend to agree, I still have the other book high on my list of must reads.

Sparhawk wrote:
Liyana wrote:

Glad so many of you were able to get the Lehrer book!

NSMike wrote:

I am just going to say that I am seriously favoring this book as a future pick for our group, even if we go with "How We Decide" for next month.

Not to sound like a total snot (while sounding like a total snot), but I don't really do any Stephen King that wasn't written before 1990. How about we tackle Different Seasons and talk about how two of the novellas from this work went on to be, not only King's best film adaptations, but two of the greatest movies of our generation (Stand by Me and The Shawshank Redemption)? We could also talk about why die hard King fans of the 80s won't touch what he puts out now! :)

You sound like such a snot
Although I tend to agree, I still have the other book high on my list of must reads.

I've heard great things about that book but I also like a fair amount of his 90s work and the later Dark Tower books.

Funny, I don't read any Stephen King that WAS written before 1990.

That, sir, is a mistake! Carrie, Christine, It, Misery... so many good ones. But my Stephen King phase was during my early teen years, so I remember the books fondly, though they may not be all that well written. I've tried reading more King since then and just have found that I like thinking of the books the way they were back then. Can we henceforth call this the Tigana effect?

Also, any more thoughts about having someone bring ideas each week so we don't let anyone's choices get skipped over too frequently? For those that weren't at the last mumble session, I made the suggestion that we assign someone every month to pick a few books that we would all have to vote on lest the most persuasive of us end up championing the same person's choices every time. Then that person can post their ideas a few days before the meeting and we can vote then. Thoughts?

Sounds like a good plan to have turns, putting out a few books up for vote.

I play to not recommend any more books for a while, as my suggestion was picked for this month. Finally picked up Mockingjay and blew through it in one night. I'll look back at the spoiler texts and post some thoughts.

Liyana wrote:

Not to sound like a total snot (while sounding like a total snot), but I don't really do any Stephen King that wasn't written before 1990. How about we tackle Different Seasons and talk about how two of the novellas from this work went on to be, not only King's best film adaptations, but two of the greatest movies of our generation (Stand by Me and The Shawshank Redemption)? We could also talk about why die hard King fans of the 80s won't touch what he puts out now! :)

My personal favorite is Apt Pupil, although I have to say both The Body and Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption are fabulous as well. And although I love Shawshank the movie, the story itself is still so much better.

Just a quick reminder that we're due to be finished and have our discussion on the Hunger Games trilogy by Thursday this week. Anyone need more time? I'm almost done with Book 3, would've been done sooner but my weekend was a little busy. I will actually have some discussion questions of my own this time (I already have a few, but I'm waiting to post them until I'm actually done with the series).

If anyone needs more time, say so now. Otherwise, I'm scheduling our discussion for Thursday, March 1 at 8:30 PM EST.

Works for me.

Some questions we might discuss:

Spoiler:

- Most of us are older then young adults, the target group. Did it make it less of a read because of that? Because of that, was the style a nice change, or did it take away from the story.
- How do you feel about the relationship between Katniss, Peeta and Gale.
- Happy to see a movie made of this series? Is Woody Harrelson a good choice for Haymitch?

I'd like to participate, but I'm so far from done, It's not gonna happen for a while. Just go ahead without me.

Unfortunately, I won't be able to participate until 10 or so EST

I will post my thoughts and questions on here in the next couple days because I liked the series and have lots of particular notes and thoughts.

Is that true for your availability this whole week, Bill?

I'm available tomorrow pretty much any time, Thursday I am only available around 9:30EST (revised estimate), Friday I am available anytime.

Anyone object to bumping it to Friday?

NSMike wrote:

Anyone object to bumping it to Friday?

Friday is definitely worse for me. I usually go out with the missus on Friday evenings.

I suspect Friday is worse for most people. I'll just miss this one and post my thoughts here. Maybe PM or email a bit with NSMike once the discussion questions are up.

Edit: Actually, if anyone is still on Mumble or wants to get back on mumble when I get on later that night, I'd be interested in hearing what was discussed while it's still fresh before it all gets consolidated to long term memory in during sleep cycles

Ok, how about a bump to 9 PM on Thursday, then? That way Bill can join us partway through.

NSMike wrote:

Ok, how about a bump to 9 PM on Thursday, then? That way Bill can join us partway through.

Works for me.

Fine as well. Friday I am working till late in the night as it is.

Later Thursday sounds just fine!

Alright, I actually wrote my own discussion questions this time (HEAVY on the spoilers to an extent).

Spoiler:

1. What do you think of the author’s decision to use first-person POV? Do you think it made Katniss a more interesting character, or less?

2. Do you think the suicide pact between Katniss and Peeta at the end of the first games was a believable catalyst for revolution? Do you honestly believe that in the 73 previous years of Hunger Games, no one paired up with their district and did something similar?

3. Do you find Katniss to be an even remotely likely symbol of a rebellion?

4. Do the things that the author takes away from Katniss in book three (Gale, Prim) do anything for your sympathy for her? Do you think giving her a slightly normal life afterward is a bit heavy-handed in the happy ending department, especially for the tone of book 3?

5. Is it obvious yet that I can't stand Katniss?

6. Do you think the author is trying too hard to write to a young-adult audience, and doesn’t give them enough credit to pick up on the subtleties? (Thinking specifically of the author’s rather needless exegesis of The Hanging Tree song)

I didn't even know there was a Goodjer book club! Subbing to the tread to hopefully jump in on next month's book. No way I can read the whole hunger games trilogy in a day.

Radical Ans wrote:

.... No way I can read the whole hunger games trilogy in a day. :)

actually....

Sparhawk wrote:
Radical Ans wrote:

.... No way I can read the whole hunger games trilogy in a day. :)

actually....

I'll rephrase. No way I can find the time to read the whole hunger games trilogy in a day.

There's so much I'd like to say and participate with on this, so hopefully I can make it back relatively early tomorrow night. Here's my thoughts:

BY the way HUGE LAST PAGE ENDING KIND OF SPOILERS. Don't ready if you're not fully done.

Spoiler:

Katniss: I really enjoyed Katniss as a main character, especially with the story told from her point of view. She was able to tell who the main players were and what their goals were at almost all times, even if she couldn't think ahead strategically (with the glaring exception of missing why the Games dude showed her the mockingjay). The author managed to ride the line between the characters feeling a little lost and unsure of themselves (a YA trope) without losing their agency to act upon the world. A key part for me was that Katniss just isn't that much of a likable person. She gets things done when they need to be done... put her in a crisis situation and she'll thrive, but take her out and she starts to lose focus and get frustrated. I'm not sure I've seen many characters written that way before and it really drove my enjoyment of the series to see that explored.

Another thing I really loved about the writing was the fairly heavy portrayal of Katniss's mental breakdown throughout the series. Her neurosis kept building under layers of mistrust of adults (go figure), panic under even low stimulation, the need to find hiding places (there's a name for that I can't remember), nightmares, and building to straight up catatonic fits and schizophrenia. She gets a half-heartedly positive ending in that "she's always tortured by her past and watches in internal horror as her children play on the graves of her friends" kind of way. It's a dark ending, with the only positive outcome for the country being that they didn't trade one sociopath for another and now have a chance at something approaching fair government. I liked that.

Seriously though, what the f**k was up with that 'Let's vote on Hunger Games with the Capitol's children' scene? I saw no reason for it and mental breakdown or no, Katniss and Haymitch break character in a huge way with their answers. Unless I missed something entirely that entire scene was a giant WTF moment for me and really soured the ending. Especially because immediately afterward it's completely forgotten and never mentioned again. Can anyone enlighten me on what the hell happened?

Aside from Katniss I can't even think of any characters worth mentioning in detail. They all filled their roles in Katniss's story. A lot of nice touches on President Snow. Peeta and Gale played extremely necessary but flat roles, even including Peeta's mental breakdown. The "Real or not real" was a nice touch as well. I really enjoyed the slow reveal of depth to Finnick's character. The casual way he and others were tossed aside near the end of the third book was jarring but intentionally so, I think. I'm not sure why I didn't notice it until the end, but I liked how the naming conventions were simple, natural, and character describing. Coin's name made me look back at the others', including Peeta, and chuckle.

Panem: I generally liked the way the world was built up, but I think the conceit that it was some post-apocalyptic version of North America really didn't help it. The separation of the districts was great thematically as long as you didn't try to think about it geographically or logically. The train / hovercraft distances were hard to gauge and better left ignored. The concept that 'high flying aircraft' was impossible due to the ruined atmosphere was not explored very well, although it neatly solved the problems of why carpet bombing wasn't terribly effective and why you could bring hovercraft down with arrows. The juxtaposition of low and high tech in the world worked well in the first book, but lost steam and become more muddled in the last two. It's really hard to believe they had certain technologies but not others.

Writing: Overall I thought the pacing and tone of the books was excellent. Collins was great at building up every few paragraphs to a pithy line, or a realization, or a nice mini-climactic event that really drove the narrative. The over-arching narrative itself suffers behind a sea of moment to moment dramas and joys, especially in the later books, but I appreciated that. That's how life often feels to me... a series of memorable moments and lines with occasional realizations. My life suffers a bit from plot confusion, too, and that connection is another YA trope.

The overall concept of the Hunger Games being used both as Roman Coliseum style entertainment and Oppression was a little tough to swallow... and yet it's not like there's not precedent. I was able to put it out of my mind pretty quickly as there was so much else to see at lower levels of detail. I could see how that would ruin someone's enjoyment of the series if you're not able to reconcile that key disconnect.

Just a reminder that we're discussing tonight at 9 PM. Bring your suggestions for our next selection.

How we decide is heavily favored for next selection based on last month's discussion, as I remember.