Book Club News

NPR’s “I Will If You Will Book Club” is activating again and looking for suggestions about what to read next.

If you love book clubs, have been looking for a book club, or have always wondered what being in a book club entails, the IWIYW Book Club is a great, low-commitment place to start – especially when you have input into the reading material.

For those who want to understand the premise behind IWIYW, check out this post.

Want to suggest a book? Visit the NPR Monkey See blog, check out what others have recommended, and share your ideas in their comments section.

NPR Hosts Book Club for Younger Readers

Hot on the heels of Teen Read Week and just in time for Halloween, NPR presents a book club for kids age 9 – 14 and, right off the bat, members will be reading Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book.

A couple of extra-cool features about this club and its first selection: You can watch this video on Mouse Circus, Gaiman’s website for young readers, of the author reading his book. This offers young readers the opportunity to gauge their own impressions, then see how the author interprets his writing. And, on Halloween (Monday, Oct. 31), NPR’s afternoon news program, “All Things Considered,” will chat with Gaiman about The Graveyard Book and answer listener questions.

Full details are here, including a link to submit your questions and thoughts about The Graveyard Book.

Margaret Atwood Joins Online Book Club Discussion This Afternoon

A quick update to my previous post on online book clubs: Blind Assassin author Margaret Atwood will be joining The Atlantic’s online book club discussion of her book in less than an hour at 2 p.m. PT (5 p.m. ET). You can follow the discussion via the Twitter handle @1book140 and on www.theatlantic.com.

Further details, including how to ask questions, are available in this Mashable article.

Looking for a Book Club?

The Atlantic magazine is joining the online book club ranks, starting June 1 with the first chapter of Margaret Atwood’s The Blind Assassin. You can participate via The Atlantic’s website comments section or, for those with less time and an ability to encapsulate lengthy tomes into pithy headlines, on Twitter. More details here.

I’ll update this post with links to both online comments sections once they launch. In the meantime, it’s a perfect weekend for getting caught up in a good book. Here is the link to the weekly chapter discussions for The Atlantic’s 1book140 book club. You can follow and join the discussion on Twitter at @1book140.

Chapter 4: “Façade”

Last post on this subject – at least until the next IWIYW Book Club: Final chapter of Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman: Dream Country is “Façade,” and the NPR “Monkey See” book club discussion will take place Tuesday here.

Chapter 3’s discussion, which took place while I was in New York, covered “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” a mash-up of the Shakespeare play and an extended reverie wherein The Bard strikes a deal with Dream, the originator of stories, for several plays. Watch Shakespeare’s play take form while his characters take on lives of their own.

Lots of intriguing discussion of this four-story graphic novel and the rules and creative leaps of storytelling thanks to “Monkey See”’s avid readers. It’s been an interesting choice – and everything that freewheeling, open-ended writing and critique should be. I’ll keep you posted when the next IWIYW Book Club commences.

Writing that inspired me this week:

“Mythologies take longer to die than people believe. They linger on in a kind of dream country that affects all of you.”
~ From “Façade,” The Sandman: Dream Country by Neil Gaiman

Purrrr-fect Night Reading

If you’ve ever had a nightmare about your friendly pet turning on you for a reason that makes no sense upon waking, and then tossed the whole thing aside as “dream logic,” then “A Dream of A Thousand Cats” is for you.

It’s the next graphic story in NPR’s I Will If You Will book club and one of four tales that make up the club’s selection The Sandman: Dream Country by Neil Gaiman.

There’s a growing thread of fascinating comments already at the I Will If You Will blog post.

Sweet dreams, everyone!

I Will If You Will, Part 2

A quick reminder that the I Will If You Will online book club over at NPR is holding its first meeting this week, on Thursday, April 21.

If the selection (Neil Gaiman’s graphic novel The Sandman: Dream Country), a love of reading, a desire to chat about books – or all of the above – appeal to you, details about the time of Thursday’s live (my bad: updating to add: not a live chat this time; rather a blog post plus lots of great commenting in the “Monkey See” Comments section) discussion will be available here. I’ve updated the link above to the discussion, which started today (4/21).

The Sandman is actually four short stories, in graphic format, exploring the nature of dreams. The reading that’s due Thursday is the first story, “Calliope.” For readers who find this selection gritty, grim or graphic, note that a later section actually sent me back to re-read Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Low art meets high art in a social media book club!

For those who can’t wait for Thursday, here’s a “Monkey See” blog post for all you voracious book-lovers to sigh over: “The Sad, Beautiful Fact that We’re All Going to Miss Almost Everything.”

Writing that inspired me this week:

“I am that merry wanderer of the night.”
~ William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream

I Will If You Will

I started reading a graphic novel called The Sandman: Dream Country today. It’s only the second time I’ve ever attempted to read a graphic novel, and the first time I’ve stuck with it.

Hmmm, you say, not really my cup of chai. Normally, I would’ve said so too.

My first foray was the Batman reboot The Dark Knight. Despite being a big fan of the ‘60s TV show, this gothic vision of the Caped Crusader just didn’t pack the same POW! I was also an avid “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” watcher, but somehow never was tempted to pick up Joss Whedon’s Fray series.

So, why now? Why Sandman? It’s the next selection in the I Will If You Will Book Club, a side project of NPR’s “Monkey See” blog (see fawning rave for this culture blog in previous post). I’ll let blog editor Linda Holmes explain the concept:

“For those of you who don’t know, the I Will If You Will Book Club began here at ‘Monkey See’ as a way to read books we might otherwise not choose to tackle, whether because of their reputations or because they’re a different style than we typically prefer, or whatever. We have gone both lowbrow (Twilight) and highbrow (Moby-Dick). I have personally been really glad that I read both of those books, even though they were both difficult in their own unique, vampy, whale-anatomy-intensive ways.”

You’ll have picked up that the whole thing started as a sort of Twilight dare. A lot of people who love good books and films and who generally support reading have piled on the Twilight-hatin’ bandwagon. And a lot of those same haters have never read the book that ignited the flame that became the series and later the movies. It was a bit like the whole Harry Potter sensation, but with many, many more dementors.

The premise of I Will If You Will is that one might be a bit hasty with the criticism prior to the actual reading of the book (and, to be fair, seeing the movie is not the same thing, as any Harry Potter fan will take pains to tell you in groaning detail – far, far too much detail). Reading the book gives you a foundation from which to detract or change your mind. It seems to me that this is the difference between thinking critically and just being critical.

It’s why I’ve read Twilight and The DaVinci Code and other novels that capture the attention of the masses, and I don’t mean “masses” in any kind of insulting sense. That is what popular culture is all about, and it’s why I’m a consuming member of the masses myself.

As writers, and as consumers (“devourers” might be the better word, in Sandman context) of writing, exploring new territory is imperative. It expands our vocabulary, literally, and the creative centers of our brains to boot, granting us access to new options (for example, storytelling that’s fully embedded in a visual medium – yet relies on the imagination in deeper ways than films or TV shows do).

Reading this graphic novel today reminded me (as a corporate communicator) that I’ve seen both health and safety information conveyed in comic-book-esque form, and the uniqueness of the medium – in our seemingly all-online world of communications these days – may be just what a particular, targeted audience is looking for.

I’d have serious reservations about recommending this volume to anyone under the age of 20, but if you’re into the “we’ll all learn together” approach of I Will If You Will or you were curious about graphic novels or you were looking for a book club, maybe you’ll check it out here (there’s still time to get The Sandman: Dream Country and devour it before the first online chat starts).

Writing that inspired me this week:

“Maybe I wrote in invisible ink/Oh, I’ve tried to think/How I could’ve made it appear/But another illustration is wasted because the results are the same/I feel like a ghost/who’s trying to move your hands/over some Ouija board in the hopes/I can spell out my name.”
Aimee Mann, “Invisible Ink” from the album “Lost in Space”