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Any interest in a “Book Club” of sorts?

February 21st, 2009 · Posted by Hugo · 39 Comments

For many years, I’ve been a fan of endurance sport, be it cycling (mountain biking), paddling, running (trial running FTW!)… I’ve discovered being a fan (of participating) doesn’t mean I successfully motivate myself to do it often enough. Typically I have to enter for a race in order to motivate me to train regularly enough to achieve a good level of fitness. (And even then, I don’t train enough.)

A great solution to the motivation problem? A training partner! Anyone that’s been there knows how much that helps with motivation. I’ve found this to be true even in the case of downhill skiing! If you’re feeling like being lazy, it takes only one in the group to stand firm to help others overcome their laziness.

So that’s one reason, but certainly also not the only reason for a book club! The other stronger reason is because there’s so many interesting things to discuss in a group, each member can contribute their own experiences that seem relevant to the thoughts encountered, or maybe certain sections raise questions for some that are best answered by other real live people in a conversation. It’s just like the comments and discussions below a blog, it contributes significantly to the experience of a post.

So how would this work, a blog-run book club? Well, if there’s interest, we’d read a certain section each week, or every two weeks, or whatever, and then “come together” on the blog, someone (me?) will write a short summary or intro about the section we’ve read, then we’ll discuss! Just like usual. In an ideal world, it would be possible to limit the main conversation to members of the “club”, i.e. the people that are actually reading the book. (If it’s more than just me, of course… :-P) In fact, I’d want the comments of the members (readers) highlighted, emphasized, the primary focus, but still provide another area for observers to contribute as well, especially if their field of expertise is relevant to the discussion. We’ll see, but to start with, it will be a plain old blog post with plain old comments like we have here.

Without much further ado, here’s the list of books I’m keen on reading, to see if there’s any interest in others joining in:

And that isn’t even an exhaustive list of the things I want to tackle. How about A Short History of Nearly Everything or Guns, Germs, and Steel? (Hmmm, and then there’s fiction: Dune? ;-) )

Any interest? And you’re welcome to vote for books here even if you’re not going to join in on reading them (say so though), since what I read will certainly have some influence on what I blog, and you’re all readers of this blog. What would you want me to write about?

And on top of all that, any recommendations?

Categories: Religion and Science
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39 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Hugo // Feb 21, 2009 at 3:04 pm

    There’s also the possibility of developing a blog-post-discussion-club-thingy, but this would depend on my vapourware personal software project, making it easier for people to share the posts they found interesting here, so that those interested can start a discussion.

  • 2 Ben-Jammin' // Feb 21, 2009 at 5:09 pm

    I’m game. At least to start and try. :)

  • 3 Hugo // Feb 21, 2009 at 5:12 pm

    Sweet. By which I guess you mean you’re prepared to tackle those a bit outside of your typical choice… ’cause there’s certainly a diversity of books up there.

    Bones, Rocks and Stars I want to tackle in the process of getting some thorough “age of stuff” material published on this blog, and to see if I can give it to some Hovind-fans as presents or something. ;-)

  • 4 -M- // Feb 21, 2009 at 5:26 pm

    I’m interested as well, with all the “free” time i have now…my only problem would be the get the books, but I am sure I can sort something out…

  • 5 Hugo // Feb 21, 2009 at 5:34 pm

    Which books? The sciency-ones, I’d expect, would be where your contribution would be most helpful, to answer all our uninformed silly questions… :-P Like your offer to help me get a grip on Ernst Meyr.

  • 6 -M- // Feb 21, 2009 at 5:45 pm

    Sure but remember where I live now! Not that easy to get access to books! ;) But I have to go back to Stellies soon, so I shall be able to get access to some of them!will do my best anyway!

  • 7 Hugo // Feb 21, 2009 at 6:05 pm

    Hmm, on looking back, I also see I wasn’t particularly clear on making the request, let’s hope it’s okay if I do it here:

    If you’re keen on joining in on something like this, which book or couple of books might interest you?

    The above was just my generic list of things I’m interested in reading. We need to find a good intersection of interests. And I need to stop writing every second comment. :-P

  • 8 Ben-Jammin' // Feb 22, 2009 at 3:13 am

    What about substituting Jerry Coyne’s Why Evolution is True for the university textbook? It should be cheaper and easier to read.

    I’m personally interested in everything from Frankl down inclusive except for the Sagan. But I’m willing to read stuff in theistic language and perspective if others are willing to read stuff from a naturalistic perspective as well.

    Now, to get some Dennett or Flanagan on the list… :)

  • 9 Bendul // Feb 22, 2009 at 10:43 am

    Straight up!

    I’m reading “everything must change” at the moment; really enjoying it. But I’ll be keen on hitting “sex, bones and rockstars” anyday.

    Ben-jammin. That sounds great. I was gonna suggest if we have that kind of dynamic going that everyone gets the opportunity to recommend a book that everyone reads (in order of who has been here the longest, and is of course willing and able to read/interchange like you have suggested).

    I would love to read what you recommend; and would love to recommend something by Brian McLaren to you; sure you’re input will be something McLaren himself will vale more than the “inputs” he recieves on a day to day basis from “like-minded” others…

  • 10 Bendul // Feb 22, 2009 at 10:44 am

    Oh yeah; I think Rollins stuff will also be great for these kinds of interchanges…

  • 11 Kenneth Oberlander // Feb 22, 2009 at 1:13 pm

    @everyone.
    I’m game, just finished Stephen Pinker…I also have Mayr’s What Evolution is, which isn’t that difficult to read. I don’t like certain aspects of the book, but it is a nice clear read.

    What about Neil Shubin’s new book, Your Inner Fish? I’ve been dying to give it a try, but can’t get hold of a copy. This should serve as extra incentive.

    Anything by Gould is good, if you can get past his tendency to waffle. I second Ben-Jammin’s suggestion of Dennett and Coyne, as I haven’t read anything by either author.

    Jared Diamond’s books are also very good. Dawkins’s Ancestor’s Tale is superb, but someone stole my copy…sigh.

    Carl Sagan’s Demon-Haunted World is very good, as is his Pale Blue Dot, which is a bit dated, but still well worth the read.

    -M-, Bendul, if we decide on one of the books I have, you guys are welcome to read my copies.

  • 12 -M- // Feb 22, 2009 at 5:48 pm

    @ Kenneth: I am really keen to read some Gould or Sagan, thanks!and I still have *that* Dawkins book sitting next to my bed…but I dont want to wake up some old demons…if u know what I mean…;)

  • 13 Hugo // Feb 23, 2009 at 12:37 am

    I’m afraid I’m unable to suppress my curiosity for yet another book, adding to my list:

    Jesus Wants to Save Christians by Rob Bell and Don Golden.

    Anyway, I kinda feel we haven’t got enough interest / eye-balls here for the top half of the list yet. Hopefully I can collect another couple gotta collect another couple of eyes. Maybe in a month or two.

    So I’m leaning towards kicking off with some science book… What Dennett might you recommend? (Dennett certainly intrigues me, he’s got some excellent thoughts, and I loved his treatment of Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Life iirc.) And who’s Flanagan?

    -M-, if you’re referring to Ye Olde Daemons in this site’s history (*grin*) you needn’t worry. They’ve been exorcised. And seriously, thanks for the prezzie! I do feel a right ass for only having read the first couple of pages. *sigh* I reckon I should make a habit of reading *something* every night. Some fiction as well, it’s good for the soul. (For those wondering: I currently have a Neal Stephenson and a Robert Heinlein waiting on my shelf, and Brave New World about to arrive in the mail, much thinner than the other two. And a long wishlist.)

  • 14 Ben-Jammin' // Feb 23, 2009 at 1:14 am

    Owen Flanagan: The Problem of the Soul: Two Visions of Mind and How to Reconcile Them, The Really Hard Problem: Meaning in a Material World, Consciousness Reconsidered, Varieties of Moral Personality: Ethics and Psychological Realism and a whole bunch of other books on similar topics. I’ve only read the first one and liked it.

    Daniel Dennett: Darwin’s Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meanings of Life, Elbow Room: The Varieties of Free Will Worth Wanting, Freedom Evolves, Consciousness Explained, and others. I’ve read the last two and liked them – especially Freedom Evolves.

  • 15 Kenneth Oberlander // Feb 23, 2009 at 11:23 am

    @-M-
    Do you have my God Delusion?

    For followers of this thread, yes, I do lend out books indiscriminately, and yes, I do forget who I gave them to…

    WHO HAS MY ANCESTOR’S TALE???

  • 16 -M- // Feb 23, 2009 at 11:52 am

    @ Kenneth

    Nope I do not have your God Delusion ;). I bought it last year but never had the time to read it…

  • 17 Cobus // Feb 25, 2009 at 3:14 pm

    I’m glad to find more book-readers out there. I’m looking for a number of my books as well:-)

    Hugo, definitely interested, and as you might suspect most of the books on that list will interest me as well. May I add some:

    Transforming Mission – Some would say that book that started it all… so if you plan on reading emerging literature, then why not TM as well. We’ll be doing a real book club over the coming year on this book, so I’ll be blogging on this myself.

    I’ll also be interested to discuss Tom Sine’s The New Conspirators and Bevans and Schroeder’s Constants in Context.

  • 18 Hugo // Feb 26, 2009 at 2:18 am

    Excellent idea. Transforming Mission has just been added to my amazon.de shopping basket, for when I place my next order. (Next week?)

  • 19 Hugo // Mar 5, 2009 at 2:00 am

    Soo…. I’m thinking of starting with Bones, Rocks and Stars some time soon, as I want to put together some solid posts (or just some solid references/pointers to material, e.g. that book) on how old stuff is. It seems as good a place as any to start, with regards to encouraging scientific understanding.

  • 20 Ben-Jammin' // Mar 5, 2009 at 3:35 am

    OK, I have put it on request from the local library. :)

  • 21 Kenneth Oberlander // Mar 5, 2009 at 1:50 pm

    I’ll check up whether our library has a copy…

    Do we have some sort of deadline to finish the book by?

  • 22 Bendul // Mar 5, 2009 at 2:16 pm

    Ouch. Deadlines: I hade dem…

  • 23 Hugo // Mar 5, 2009 at 4:04 pm

    Not at all! In terms of the book club, the only schedule thingy will be: when (and who – doesn’t have to be me) to write a blog post introducing what part of the book, for the rest to then discuss as they like.

    Does that sound sensible? It would be a bonus if I/we could throw together a page to point future visitors to, where they can get the basics, any number of references, and potentially discussion if they’ve got questions or contributions to make.

  • 24 Kenneth Oberlander // Mar 6, 2009 at 8:20 am

    @Bendul
    Do you hate the whooshing sound they make as they flash by?

  • 25 Bendul // Mar 6, 2009 at 8:38 am

    haha. yah. who’s quote is that again? Spike Milligan?

  • 26 Bendul // Mar 6, 2009 at 9:29 am

    oooooh! Transforming mission! David Bosch, yes please! Yes please! But first: that rocks, paper scissors book…

  • 27 Ben-Jammin' // Mar 9, 2009 at 4:45 pm

    who’s quote is that again?

    I think it’s Douglas Adams’

  • 28 Hugo // Mar 17, 2009 at 2:18 am

    Gaah, been busy, working too hard. Will have things sane again soon.

    In other news, I’ve placed my order for David Bosch, going to try to catch up with Cobus et al, and join in on the synchro-blogging. ;-) Who knows if I’ll have enough time. I’ll have to make it. Also for Da Bones Book (and a book about computer geek stuff I’m trying to read with a book club at work). If you want to see Cobus’ first post on the book, March 12 on his blog.

    This blog’s next post has 250 words already, I should get it done before going away for a long-weekend.

  • 29 Ben-Jammin' // Mar 17, 2009 at 11:14 pm

    Did we switch books?

  • 30 Hugo // Mar 18, 2009 at 1:08 am

    No, we’ll continue with the plan. “Bones, Rocks and Stars”. What’s the status of your request at your local library? When would you (plural) like me to start with it?

    The David Bosch I just mentioned is “other news”, an additional one I intend to read, hoping to follow Cobus’ “book club”. If we decide we also want to do that one in a “thinktoomuch book club” context, I can take care of it later.

    Yea, I’m probably still tackling too many things at once, but “Bones, Rocks and Stars” will have higher priority. Even if only by virtue of my own passion/interest for it! ;) Would we be able to start in April? 11 chapters, about 15 pages each. I wonder if there’s much point in writing 11 posts. Probably not. Maybe two chapters per post.

    So I still have very little idea of how this will work, it is something of a trial run. Any ideas or inputs are welcome, but we’ll probably end up experimenting together.

  • 31 Ben-Jammin' // Mar 18, 2009 at 6:38 pm

    So I still have very little idea of how this will work, it is something of a trial run. Any ideas or inputs are welcome, but we’ll probably end up experimenting together.

    Dude. You’re not going to design how this club will work? You’re going to randomly try a bunch of stuff and select the stuff that works well? That will never produce good results!

    :P

  • 32 Ben-Jammin' // Mar 18, 2009 at 6:42 pm

    Sigh. Just when I thought I was sort-of-competent with the tags…

  • 33 Hugo // Mar 18, 2009 at 9:23 pm

    Dude. You’re not going to design how this club will work? You’re going to randomly try a bunch of stuff and select the stuff that works well? That will never produce good results!

    Yea, what a terrible idea! But would you expect any better from people that believe in that “evolutionism” thing? This just goes to show how dangerous an idea that is!

    Sigh. Just when I thought I was sort-of-competent with the tags…

    Fixed it for ya. The very day everyone is completely competent, I’ll announce “let’s comment via mengelmoes, so use ReStructuredText rather than HTML from now on!”

    (Don’t worry, it’s actually pretty easy. ;) The biggest problem will be that line-breaks-that-do-nothing will confuse some people – blank line needed. I’ll have help / tips available and all. And eventually auto blockquote-creation too, even though it is so easy!)

  • 34 Kenneth Oberlander // Mar 27, 2009 at 1:26 pm

    Damn, our library doesn’t have Bones, Rocks and Stars…will have to try the town library.

    Although I did get hold of the 2nd edition of The Dinosauria (eds Weishampel, Dodson & Osmolska).

    I think I’m in love!

  • 35 Ben-Jammin' // Mar 27, 2009 at 11:34 pm

    My library request is still waiting to be filled. I’m sure it will be a short wait in geological time.

  • 36 Ben-Jammin' // Apr 6, 2009 at 1:06 pm

    The library doesn’t even have the book yet, apparently. The local Borders books doesn’t carry it. I may have to end up ordering it.

  • 37 Hugo // Apr 10, 2009 at 6:13 pm

    For the record, the review that tipped me off to buying that book:

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2006/05/bones_rocks_and_stars.php

    I’ll be evaluating its potential as potential gift material to certain friends. ;-) But we can also tackle something else if it is easier for people interested in taking part to get their hands on it.

    I’ve also set my sights on “Infidel”, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, as reminded by a comment on this Afrikaans blog post:

    http://piesangverkoper.co.za/?p=246

    It’ll probably be the next book I add to my collection.

  • 38 Ben-Jammin' // Apr 12, 2009 at 5:40 am

    I’ve also set my sights on “Infidel”, Ayaan Hirsi Ali

    I’ve read that book. Pretty good, pretty horrifying.

  • 39 TTM Book Club: Starting with “Bones, Rocks and Stars” in Mid-July // Jun 12, 2009 at 12:03 am

    [...] in February, we sought an answer to the question Any interest in a “Book Club” of sorts? The answer at the time was [...]

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