January 22, 2011

Strange & Norrell: Book Club Edition

I guess I read this back before I started blogging.  For some reason this was a book club pick.  Maybe because we didn't have a December meeting and some bold dude decided this was the time to tackle it.  I must have missed that meeting...

Since I'd already read it I went with The Magicians just to keep with the theme.

I loved J.S. &Mr. N., but I was a literature major and had already read plenty of Henry Fielding, Dickens, Austen, etc.  I got the whole thing and enjoyed the whole experience.  There was only one other guy in the group that enjoyed it that much and only two or three that even finished it.  For them, I recommended The Magicians or Neil Gaiman instead.  (Oh, someone told me there might be a sequal to The Magicians.)

One fun thing was the comparison of formats.  This is a big book and runs to around 850 pages.  I own the trade sized paperback.  One guy had the hardcover (ouch).  One guy had a mass market sized paperback.  Dudem the print was way too small and the footnotes? Forget about it!  But then who reads all those footnotes anyway?  And finally, one guy had a three-volume trade paperback set.  He seemed the happiest since he was just toting the third volume to the meeting.  Nowadays I'd get it on my Kindle. That thing always weighs only 8.5 oz. no matter what I stuff into it!

Have I told you about my all-guy book club?  It's awesome.  We're all connected to a certain bookstore where we meet up, then head over to a nearby pub.  So it's really a book and excellent beer and food club (though we embrace tea-totalers as well).  We have only two ironclad rules: The chosen book must be in paperback and Oprah can't have picked it.  Other than that: anything goes.  We read fiction, non-fiction, kid's books, YA, graphic novels, male writers, female writers, classics, genre, whatever.  Once we were even blessed with a visit by the man himself, Christopher Moore, when we had our A Dirty Job meeting.  We've even had a few females join the group now and then.  I've been in other book groups, but this has been my favorite because it's very laid back and intellectually stimulating.

How about you?  You ever try a book club or do you prefer to go it alone?

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell

The Magicians: A Novel

A Dirty Job: A Novel


C.B. James said...

"Oprah can't have picked it." Classic. I love this. I am the only male in my book club. We started back when we were all teaching at teh same school some 18 years ago. We're none of us at the same school anymore, but the club still meets about 8 times a year.

I do have to put my foot down when things stray too close to Oprah territory.

ms-teacher said...

I LOVED this book. I'll have to get it for my kindle so I can re-read it. I gave away my copy to a friend.

Jim Randolph said...

Yeah, we wanted to read The Road but she beat us to it, so we went with No Country for Old Men.

I thought of you at the meeting because one guy's dog had eaten the back cover off his copy.

Like the new avatar!

Yeah, if I ever decide to re-read it I'll probably go digital too. Although I wonder if the audi was any good? It'd be cool to hear the accents...


Beth said...

My book club refuses to acknowledge Oprah's club at all, even to disdain her books. But I don't think we've read any of hers so far; I could be wrong.

I read The Road before her.

My is an all-women club, and we just pick books we like. Like you we read all over the place, non-fiction, newish fiction (paperback rule, and we check library availability), YA, SF, romance, whatever.

lsmurphy.com said...

Christopher Moore showed up? That is SO awesome.
Sounds like your book club is a blast. Sadly, I don't have time to join a book club. Maybe in the near future, but not now.

Jim Randolph said...


Yes! One of our members os a big fan and heard he was giving a talk/signing at a nearby books store, so made some calls and got him to stop by for the hour or so before he had to go on. It wasn't a regular club meeting. Pretty much him holding forth and us giggling like shoolgirls, then getting our pictures taken with him. Wheee!

And I don't have all the time either. That's why I'm glad they're laid back. I read maybe half the books and love it when they pick something I've read and have even shown up not having read the book. It's all good.

Camille said...

For some reason, I was never able to finish this book when it came out. I've read my share of Fielding, Austen et al. Reader Fail.

I love the sound of your book club. My husband would love it.

CYA said...

I read The Magicians and loved it. It was my pick for my young adult book club consisting of librarians. Even though many members only sorta liked the book, they had plenty to say about it.

We stay away from Oprah's picks also but it's easy to do since she doesn't select ya books. Her loss.