The snow kept on falling and all was quiet… very, very quiet. That’s all I can say about our November book club meeting, so I’m hoping that all of you who read The Year of Living Biblically will lend your “voices” to some online discussion and commentary attached to this blog post. Here are some questions to prime the pump.
How did you feel about A.J.’s biblical journey? What implications did it have for the people close to him? I found myself wondering how different a year of biblical living would have been for a woman in A.J.’s place (I never really considered how male-centric the Bible is until I read this book). Which part of the book did you find most humorous? Most thought-provoking? Did the book change your views of religion and religious practices? A.J.’s quest to take the Bible literally for an entire year led to enduring changes in his life, such as resting on the Sabbath. Has reading about his quest had any impact on your daily life or how you strive to live it?
Here’s a link to a video of the author’s appearance on the Today Show:
As the weather started to turn chilly and the wind started to blow, we were cozy in the library, talking about our most recent graphic novel read: “Maus“. As one of the group said (and I quote her with permission), “it’s a bigger book than it is”. At 159 pages, it seems too thin to even begin to touch the surface of a topic like the Holocaust. And for those unfamiliar with graphic novels, the format certainly doesn’t seem to lend itself to such a serious subject. We discovered, during our discussion, that this may have been the best way to tell the story of Art’s parents and their experiences in WWII in Poland. It might have been easier to skim over words in a novel, but when you’re confronted by images, even images of mice, it’s hard not to pay attention. We also talked about the fact that this was more than just a story of Holocaust history, but also a story of an adult son trying to connect and forgive his father. It was certainly worthy of the much-delayed Pulitzer Prize it won in 1992, almost 20 years after “Volume 1: My Father Bleeds History” was published. The library also has a copy of “MetaMaus“, which thoroughly traces the creative process and history behind the making of “Maus”, and has interviews with Art Spielgelman and his family. It comes with an interactive DVD, and we listened to a recording of one of Art’s interview sessions with his father. You can even hear the whirling of the exercise bike that his father was pedaling through the whole interview.
Stop on the 2nd Floor of the St. Albert Library to spin our wheel and find your reading destination. Will it be Graphic Novels or Beach Reads? Historical Fiction or Humour? Read one book from your wheel spin and a book of your choice to enter for weekly prizes.
Ladies and Gentlemen! Without further ado, I would like to announce the 2013/2014 line-up for subVERSEive book club.
In no particular order:
Maus by Art Spiegelman
The Year of Living Biblically by A. J. Jacobs
Tweak (Growing up on Methamphetamines) by Nic Sheff
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
419 by Will Ferguson
The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out a Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson
Snuff by Chuck Palachiuk
The Dinner by Herman Koch
1984 by George Orwell
Looking at the list (which was narrowed down and voted on at the last meeting) I feel that we have well and truly embraced the spirit of subVERSEive!
Other news, we wholeheartedly welcome Alison back from maternity leave! Alison and I will alternate book club meetings in the coming year. Anna will still read the books with us, but has a course on Monday nights.
So, first meeting on Monday September 16, 2013. Details to follow!
Weather may have deterred most of the group but our discussion of Persepolis became a full-scale lesson in graphic novels and comics. The table was covered with books about graphic novels (and snacks) and different examples of the format, from old school Swamp Thingto Scott Pilgrim. For someone who had never read a graphic novel before, was Persepolis the best one to start with? We agreed that the format may have made getting into the story difficult. For those readers who are “words people”, reading separate panels with little to no dialogue is a challenge. Marjane Satrapi’s style is heavily influenced by Art Spiegelman’s Maus and by the group of graphic novel artists she was part of in Paris: L’Association. These graphic novels tend to be in black and white, with stark lines and separated panels. We compared these to novels like Scott Pilgrim, which is in full colour and the panels are odd shapes and sizes, sometimes running into other panels. Easier to read? Harder? Depends on what appeals to you. We discussed the content of Persepolis and how this aspect of the history and life in Iran before and after the Shah and the Revolution was something that was really unfamiliar to us. It brought up the question of would you even have children in such a situation. For myself, I could go on and on, as I’m a huge fan of graphic novels. Instead I will leave you with a few resources and a poll question.
First, a great welcome to Viola and Casey, our newest subVERSEive members!
I suspected that the discussion for Jack Kerouac’s On the Road would be wild and contentious. Well, maybe we weren’t wild, but there were strong feelings about the book, especially Jack Kerouac’s writing style and the characters of Dean Moriarty and Sal Paradise. We started the evening with an old video of Jack Kerouac reading part of his book on the Steve Allen Plymouth show. Geoff, our Teen Services Library Assistant, joined us as an aficionado of the Beat Generation, and filled in the gaps on Jack Kerouac’s short life, his beliefs and the reaction from 1950′s society to those who considered themselves “Beat”. The only thing we all agreed on is that this relevantly short book took a very long time to read…and also the the character of Dean Moriarty was, as in Sal’s words, “a rat”. After a brief break for hot apple pie and ice cream (“nutritious and delicious”), we came to the conclusion that this book was un-rateable, and for me, unforgettable.
On a more organizational note, we decided to revert back to the original set-up of subVERSEive, where one group member was assigned the task of leading the discussion at the following meeting. Viola has volunteered to start the group off for Timothy Taylor’s The Blue Light Project. Next meeting: Monday Feb 11th at 7pm in the library.