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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Economy's Effect on Books and a Little Rescheduling

Ok not a lot of input which leads me to believe I've got a lot of busy people out there. I went with my gut and decided to move the book discussion for On Chesil Beach just one day forward to Thursday. We won't open book four until Friday. This will give us a little more breathing room on Gang Leader and getting caught up.

By the way, for those of you who haven't started Gang Leader yet, I've read in about 3 chapters and so far, it is not a disappointment. I'm enjoying the candor and the look at a part of society that rarely gets noticed or told. Pretty fascinating stuff.

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I've been pondering the questions of books and their marketable sustenance lately. For years now, articles have been written about the demise of the book, how and when it will happen. Most people in the industry disregard this as alarmist and extreme. I think they are probably right. And, given the current financial climate, I'm wondering now if there could be a boon in the near future for books as entertainment.

Think about this: the average family already cannot afford tickets to sporting events and movies. Given that those used to be the 'great American' past-times, what do we have left? Now take an economy wherein many families with children are right now pulling the budgets in tight to cover gas and food. But, when the country is in financial distress, they look to entertainment to bring their spirits up. So you tell me, do you think these ingredients could add up to a surge book sales and reading? I'm wondering if it might. Books remain an inexpensive entertainment, which any family can do together.

Financial information on the book industry would tell me otherwise. And of course, if you're going to use books as entertainment, there is the library. There you have the arguments (quite strong ones too) against my idea. Still, if we headed down a road of deep financial strife, I wonder if people would consider books as an inexpensive entertainment.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Hey, How's it Going?

Don't forget, reading commencement for Sudhir Vankatesh's book Gang Leader for a Day starts today. Those still reading On Chesil Beach, will you be ready to discuss by Wednesday or Thursday?

Thank you for all the suggestions of books to not bother with! That was fun.

We're slated for a book opening tomorrow but I'm thinking that maybe I should back off a couple days on that one - say till Friday? What do you think?

For those into On Chesil Beach, any preliminary thoughts? Enjoying it? Don't give away all your feelings now, save some for the discussion. I for one will say I came away with a very positive feeling on this one. Which is nice considering all of our luke-warm to cold reactions to the first book.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Winner!

Irrelephant come on down! You are our winning contestant on the Book is Right!

Congratulations Mr. Irrelephant. Please email me at either tembilina-at-g-mail-dot-com or brown-booksblog-at-gmail-dot-com. Do your eyes hurt yet? I'll be needing your physical address sir.

Coming Up and Fun Weekend Discussion

Ok guys coming up next week we've got three big things on the calendar. First off, on Monday we're slated to start reading Gang Leader for a Day. If you haven't finished On Chesil Beach, just focus on that one for now because I'm planning the discussion for that one to start next week. On Tuesday I'll open the fourth book so you can all get started hunting that one down too. Wednesday is the day I put in the calendar for the discussion of On Chesil Beach. Don't forget to poke around in the Google calendar at the bottom of the page. If you click on the Google button in the bottom right corner, you can pull up a full version of it to look over.

So those dates again are:

Monday, September 29th, we start reading Gang Leader for a Day
Tuesday, September 30th, we open book four
Wednesday, October 1st, we start discussing On Chesil Beach


I also wanted to mention that in the sidebar where it says Hitchpost, links to the book discussions will be permanently left there. So if you wanted to continue jumping into the Lewis Black book discussion, the link is there. And all subsequent book discussions will land there as well.

And don't forget to check back later today for the announcement of the winner of this week's drawing!


Now for the fun stuff!

I loved Meno's suggestion that I ask you guys for your lists of books that just shouldn't be bothered with. So lay it on me. What books would you un-recommend? Maybe books often found on lists of 'must read' books. Tell me the books you've read and loathed, or felt just weren't worth the bother.

I'll give you a couple of mine:

Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger - I read this in high school and no, it was not the book for this young. I hated it. I felt like the people in it were shallow and ridiculous and the point of it all got lost in that fact.

The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood - I so wanted to like this book but absolutely hated it. I was frustrated that I had the 'twist' ending figured out not even halfway into the book, the jumps into the 'fictional' story being told throughout were boring and just useless for me. I thought the idea could have been pursued so well but I was sorely disappointed in this book.

And you?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Discussion: Me of Little Faith by Lewis Black

Ok, today is the day! Our first book discussion. Hurrah!

I'm going to throw out my overall thoughts, then a few questions to ponder and my thoughts on those, and lastly a few quotes I really enjoyed.

I'm hoping that you will offer your overall thoughts, any thoughts you have on my questions, and any questions or quotes you have to add.
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I love Lewis Black's comedy. I especially enjoy watching him go into rage, which is his style after all and what has built him quite a following. While I did hear this coming through the pages, it wasn't as loud or comedic in written form. Delivery is definitely a must with his kind of humor. I confess I did find myself laughing at certain passages, but not near as often as I had anticipated. As far as the overall message of the book, I felt like he made his points clear but had me befuddled as to what he truly believes by the end of the book.

Some questions to ponder:

1) Did anything he said resonate with you?

In the chapter "Knock Knock. Who's there?" I recalled my experience of God as a child. He spoke of being too afraid to pray. I was raised in a rather strict but oddball Christian religion wherein I always had a mental picture of God as a brick wall. I felt like when I prayed I was trying to scale that wall. I never made it.

2) Did his unexplainable experiences lessen your opinion of him? Have you had similar experiences?

I think that all of us encounter unexplainable things which we feel compelled to figure out. Whether we choose to shrug them off, believe science will one day answer them, or interpret them as a faith or spiritual experience is our own way individually to enrich our lives with those experiences. So no, it didn't exactly lessen my opinion of him. It just surprised me quite a bit. I have experienced many things which ultimately have ended up in all different categories for me.

3) Did you detect an overall message beyond religion needing a funny bone?

What I took away beyond the obvious message of 'lighten up guys' was that he was and is consistently open-minded about all approaches. I have not decided whether this level of open-mindedness is good. It's not that I don't promote open-mindedness. Absolutely necessary quality if we are going to grow and learn in life. However, I wonder if being more critical of the things we've seen or experienced can be healthier.

I thought an interesting side note that the people who staunchly believed one thing but were offended by other people's beliefs were making themselves seem more shaky in their professed faith than those that were content to believe their own and leave others to theirs.
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Some quotes I enjoyed:

"'a cultural Jew'. That just sounds like a weird kind of yogurt." -p33

"We are all just shitty little snowflakes dancing in the universe." -p35
(incidentally, Blogher could use this more effectively than the whole flower thing)

when speaking of converts: "just one more moron to throw on the pyre of enlightenment." -p83

"How many times outside of a high-security prison are you somebody's present?" -p117

"We seem to find a shared comfort in our fear of those who don't share our beliefs." -p180

"In a land that should take great joy in the differences of its people - and in the knowledge that those differences are what make us strong - we generally choose to fear diversity while wallowing in our own stupidity." -p180

Monday, September 22, 2008

Book Three Opening

Aha!

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I love this article: 10 Books Not To Read Before You Die, mainly for its extreme wryness. Tell me if you agree with the article. About which books and why?

Next week is Banned Books Week! Check your local library and area for events surrounding this all important time. Check here for local events in every state: bannedbooksweek.org.

Don't forget to comment and put your name in for the drawing. I will announce the winner this Friday.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Announcements: Book Opening and Start Reading

Don't forget yesterday was the kick off of reading Ian McEwan's On Chesil Beach. Don't worry though if you haven't gotten it yet or are still finishing up Me of Little Faith. There is plenty of time to get to this book before we discuss it.

New book opening happening tomorrow! Come by and put your name in for the drawing. Those of you who have won something already, please don't hesitate to make comments too! I'm excited to open the next one. It's a little thicker and a little taller than the others. Hmmm, I wonder what it could be? Maybe Gang Leader for a Day? In Defense of Food? The Story of Edgar Sawtelle? I've heard great things about so many of the books left on the list. I can't wait to see what we read coming up!

Also, I'm still toying with the idea of moving the discussion for Me of Little Faith up to this Wednesday. I'd like more weigh in. Especially those of you still working on that one since it took a bit to get a hold of. Discussions can go on indefinitely but I don't want to make anyone feel left behind or frustrate anyone's efforts here. This is about sharing and having fun and most of all reading reading reading!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Checking in Again

Ok guys, I want to get a feel for what's going on with you and the books so far.

Have you read Lewis Black yet? If not, how far do you have to go? If you haven't acquired it yet, let me know. Maybe we can butt our heads together and figure something out.

Next up: On Chesil Beach. We're slated to start reading that one on Saturday. How are you doing with getting it into your hands? I gotta say this one looks like a quick read also. Though I've heard it is wonderful. But I believe once you do have it in hand, time permitting, it will go quickly. I wanted to do another book opening on Monday, so that once Ian McEwan is read we'll be headed for the next book without interruption. What do you think? Getting too far ahead here?

Also to note: first book discussion is penciled in at September 30th. That's about a week and a half away. How do you feel about this? Shall we leave it there? Move it up? Push it back? Ok, give me some feedback and we'll see how to get this rock rolling. I think as the next few books go by, we'll have a better idea of how this is going to proceed and soon there will be a recognizable system in place. Which would be cool huh?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Winner Announcement and Reading with my Kids

Meno you are our lucky winner for the book two goodie bag! Hurrah!

The twins are becoming more aware of the fact that books have words on the page and they relate to what I am saying. My daughter, W, has repeatedly requested that I read Too Many Dogs by Lori Haskins.



I dearly love this book. It helped my eldest son, B, learn to read. I remember the day he took it to school to read it to his class. His teacher was impressed with his improvement and he was beaming with pride.

This is a simple beginning reader book with short sentences, rhymes and gorgeously funny illustrations. W has started repeating the words as I read them. I caught on quick to this and made sure my finger was pointing out each word as she listened and then repeated. Learning to read can never happen too early. The more the connection between words and the story being told sinks in, the closer we'll get.

I recently finished reading The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch. If any of you have seen his lecture on youtube.com you know how engaging a speaker he can be. His book is no different. The book, basically a continuation of the lecture itself, explains his philosophy about life and achieving dreams. I decided that it so inpired and promoted deep thought for me, that I would read it aloud to my son B.



We've read two chapters so far. After each chapter I ask him questions about what Mr. Pausch has said. We have so far had very nice 20 to 30 minute discussions after reading each chapter in which B has made some very thoughtful observations that I am more and more excited to read the rest of the book to him. So I would advocate that this book is not only fascinating for adults, but a great discussion promoter between parents and young adults.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Book Opening, Book Two!

Welcome to book two opening of the first Brown Book Project. Without much ado, I will just present you this little animation for the reveal.

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Remember, leave a comment here and put your name in for the drawing for a gift goodie bag. We'll begin reading this book next Saturday, September 20th. Not to worry if you cannot get the book in your hands that fast, we will not be discussing the book until October 2nd. We're on a roll now!

**Update: forgot to mention I will announce the winner of the goodie bag on Wednesday, September 17th. So you have till the 16th to get a comment up here!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Apologies - Reschedule Book Two Opening

I am sorry. I need to reschedule the book opening for book two to tomorrow. I spent most of last night at an emergency room for a health problem. Luckily it turned out to be minor and easily treatable, but you can imagine that threw my schedule a bit. I promise that tomorrow morning we'll get this train a-movin'!

See you soon.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Announcements: Book Opening and New Calendar

First I'd like to say that I've been pondering what to do about the problem of getting the books. I think we should go ahead and try to stick to the one week interim for most of the books. But, I think we should set dates to discuss the books further in advance than expected. For instance, we opened Lewis Black's book last week, started reading this week, but many didn't get the book till late this week, some are still waiting for it and some have opted out. All understandable.

So that we can keep the ball rolling I'm thinking we should say we'll discuss Lewis Black's book at the very end of the month. In the meantime, we go ahead and open another book and try to keep momentum going. Here's the deal, I've added a calendar at the bottom of the blog (it's the only place it would fit so that everything could be read properly). There are events there: book openings, book discussions. As we go along, you'll be able to see what's been opened, what's coming up and of course I'll be posting reminders often too.

Plus, if you look at the sidebar where you see "Lynnea's Brown Book Project Montage", that area will grow to show all of the Brown Books that have been opened - giving you a quick glance at where we're at and which books to pick up. Then of course the place where it says Book One will change with each book opened to show the current one we've opened. Will that be ok with you guys?

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My second announcement: I'd like to go ahead and open book two tomorrow and have another drawing! We'll get to unveil another beauty and since I know most of you will finish up reading Me of Little Faith within a day or two, by end of next week we should be good to dig in to book two!

Ok, so here we go again!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Progress

Please tell me if you guys started reading, how far have you gotten? This is a rather fast read and I am about 2/3 the way through and I swear I just started yesterday. That means by tonight I should be done. I want to know how long you guys want before we start discussing the book. I'm thinking I might do another opening tomorrow so that by the time we start the next book (in a week's time) we will have finished this book and gotten some lively discussion started. If that's too fast, let me know. I don't necessarily want to rush this but I also don't want to bore you guys to tears if you've finished and are ready to move along.

I am usually a pretty slow reader unless I come across a book like this one that is easy and moves quickly. Anyways, please let me know how it's going.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Ready, Set, Read!

Ok guys, today is the day we start book one.

Get to reading. We'll be doing another book opening sometime near the end of reading Lewis Black. We'll start discussions on Me of Little Faith during the week we are getting our next books in hand.

This is gonna be a wiiiiiild ride. I'm so thrilled to have you guys along.

Also: I would like to put out there that if any of you have suggestions for change or for any reason whatsoever, please don't hesitate to offer them. You can email me at brownbooksblog-at-gmail-dot-com, or just leave a comment on a current post and we can discuss it.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Announcements

And the winner of the First Brown Book Project Book Opening of the First Book Goodie Bag isssssss........

BigBouquet!
Please email me at brownbooksblog-at-gmail-dot-com and give me your mailing address. I will get your prize out to asap!

Thank you all for participating. Don't forget that we start reading Mr. Black's book on Monday the 8th. Happy reading.


In other book news:

All you Neil Gaiman fans might want to know that he is once again offering one of his books online or downloadable for free this month only. This time around we're being treated with Neverwhere. Go to his blog to get the links and information.

Man wins prize for worst opening line in a novel - and believe me, he deserves the prize.

Palin tried to ban books as Mayor.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Book Opening, Book One - Paaaaaaaaaarty!

Welcome to the First Ever Brown Book Project Book Opening! Officially this is Book One of the First Ever Brown Book Project Book Opening. Say that ten times fast. Practice now because I'll be making you say it after having visited the open bar.

That's right I did say open bar! Come on in and grab your favorite drink, it's all virtual and it's all free. Know what that means? Oh yeah, that means no need for a designated driver! Oh, the hors d'oeuvres will be around soon. We have pate, caviar, little wieners on sticks, cheese balls with crackers and fruit cups. Finger food away, while we discuss the first book to be read.

Speaking of which, shall we unveil? Below is a short (of length and stature) story accompanied by illustrations in which the first book makes its debut!

The Gnome Queen and Her Scepter of Cleanliness

Once upon a time, in a far-away kingdom, lived a land of gnomes. They were a peace loving sort who most enjoyed eating chocolate chip cookies, making sand castles and riding bicycles.



But unfortunately, they had a grumpy, grumbly queen who made them work at chores all day long. She never smiled and she always had more work for her subjects to do.



Then one day, one of the gnomes had a splendid idea. They would all pitch in their meager allowances and buy the queen a gift. Maybe the gift would make her happy and keep her busy so that she would smile and let them play more. So the gnomes all got together and bought the queen a book. They knew that she loved reading but had not had any new books for a long time. When they gave her the book she was surprised to get a gift from her subjects whom she knew she had been so grumpy with.



She opened the gift and was the happiest she had ever been. She thanked them ever so much, promising to be a more happy queen. All of the gnomes in the kingdom jumped for joy.

(Note the 'jazz hands')


Then she did the most astonishing thing. She pronounced that every year hereafter would be a national holiday for celebrating books and that no gnome would ever work on this day of the year ever again.



And a quick little video of the actual opening:

video

Two notes of reminder:

1. Make a comment on this post anytime this week and on Friday I will be pulling one name to win a surprise goodie bag!

2. We will plan to start reading Me of Little Faith next Monday the 8th of September. Get your funny bone out and Lewis Black's book and let's get to reading.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Don't Forget!

Come back tomorrow for the first book opening party! Wear a costume, leave a comment and put yourself in for the goodie bag drawing.

There will be plenty of hors d'oeuvres, wine and cocktails. It's open bar so just join right in and grab a drink.

For tomorrow's opening, I'm excited to share that there will be an original short story. (Short short short). Even the characters are short. Well most of them. See you there!