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Reading With Sea

A book club on your own time

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I am very excited to be announcing a new format for our reading group starting in June.  What we have been doing here since February is trying to create a reading group that is completely flexible and in that process the experience has become overwhelming.  What we need to do is simplify, simplify, simplify, just like Thoreau said.

Here’s the new deal:  Each month we will feature 1 full length book (either nonfiction or fiction) and 1 essay.  That’s it.  The book selection will change monthly (obviously).  The essay, however, will be from the same collection.  For the next hand full of months, after June,  you will only need to pick up one book.  All the essays we will be reading for a while will be from the following collection:

Pick up your copy of this collection as soon as you can.  Keep it with you since we will be reading various essays from it at the pace of one per month until we are through.  The essay we will be reading in June will be Mark Twain’s Corn-pone Opinions.

The book that received the most votes and therefore will be read in June is:

Oh The Glory of it All
by Sean Wilsey

I hope this all makes sense to you.  After the month of May I will be taking down all past discussion comments and past reads to make the page clean for the new format.

If you have any questions or comments please feel free to voice them.  This simplification process is the result of much reflection and feedback.  I hope this new format will allow everyone to feel more relaxed and eager to participate.

-Sea

The book raffle for May is coming to a close.  I will keep the poll open through Sunday the 18th and then Sunday night take it down and reveal the results Monday.  Please get your votes in if you have yet to do so.  I hope you are all enjoying your reads for this month.  I myself am half way through The Savage Detectives and will be finishing Tokyo Vice this coming week.  Then on to The Help.

-Sea

March becomes April.

The turning is complete and we find ourselves in April.  The Book Discussion page is updated.  At the request of members, I have kept the discussion questions from previous month’s selections on the page and people are welcome to continue their conversations.  Please continue to mark clearly which book you are referring to when posting.

A few of you have offered suggestions on restructuring the book discussion, which included having questions that allow for discussion while reading, rather than needing to finish the book before being able to answer questions.  As a response to this request, I have posted very generic book discussion questions for The Savage Detectives and Tokyo Vice.  These questions refer to subjects such as content, tone, character development, etc.  I used the questions posted on the author’s page for The Help.

I will not be reading The Help and I wanted to announce that I will leave the discussion on this book to those of you who are actually going to read it for April.  Personally, I am in the mood for more seedy, dark, sarcastic, sharp, rough, and raw sort of reads so I am going to stick with the other two selections to begin with as they seem like they may fit into my current appetite.    On that note, I will be updating the Sea’s Reads page soon as I know that some of you do actually want to know what I am buying, reading, loving, rejecting and so on.  Also, at the request of members, I will be writing more about the books I am reading and what I think of them.  On this note, I wanted to write a short disclosure, first:

I allow myself to get swept away with what I read whether that means being in love or full of disappointment, so as a forewarning, my comments will be gushy and sometimes flirtatious despite leaning on one side or the other.  I enjoy sinking into what I am reading.  I am stating this clearly, here and now, so that it does not surprise you.  Whether I am writing about an ex-dominatrix I admire, a female pastor that stretches my intelligence, a philosopher who often opens my mind, a poet who tickles and pleases, or a novelist who phrases something just right I will gush about what I like and gush about what I do not like.  The first to these posts, was written a few days ago about Whip Smart by Melissa Febos, which you can read here.

Also, I will be writing about books that I read, some of which are written by people that I know.  In the first month, September of 2008, in Nick Horby’s first collection of essays he wrote for the magazine, The Believer, entitled, The Polysyllabic Spree, he lays out some ground rules for his entries: “I don’t want anyone pointing out that certain books I write about in this column are by friends – or, in the case of Pompeii, by brothers-in-law.  A lot of my friends are writers, and so some of my reading time is, inevitably, spent on their books.  I won’t attempt to disguise the connections, if that makes anyone feel better.”  I echo Hornby’s statement.  I am confident in what I like enough to know that the reasons fall outside of who the author is.  Seriously.  I promise.

When my friend, Isaac Marion, years ago, wrote a short story about zombies, I read it.  Immediately, I asked him: “what did you even write this?”  I have always enjoyed Isaac’s stories, but his zombie feature was not something I appreciated.  I do not have a taste for vampire or zombie stories.  Never have.  Years later, after he wrote that short story, he turned it into a full length novel and now that novel has been picked up by an agent and a publisher, talked about by bloggers and reviewers and optioned in Hollywood.  This is my example.  Isaac’s zombie story is his most popular writing yet, but my least favorite.  Despite my understanding of what he was doing with this idea and what he was saying through the story and though I have absolute support for Isaac, I do not like something just because I support the author.  Just like I do not enjoy The Flaming Lips’ newest album simply because I think they are brilliant musicians.

Stay tuned. And feel free to email me.

seabenjamin@gmail.com

-Sea

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Hi. Hello.

I need to tell you all something; I need to come clean.

Questions posing conversations based on thoughts around owning vs. borrowing, keeping vs. giving away, what snacks you prefer to accompany your reading, etc., are of minor interest to me.  The above are surface conversational topics and throughout this current month I planted them on our site as a test.  I wanted to understand what would draw more traffic and discussion.  The express purpose that prompted this reading group was to facilitate discussion over mutual reading.  At the plea of several people, over the span of a couple of years, I finally decided to put together this group in order to collect fellow readers.  Not being a big blog reader, I had no idea what I was getting myself into, so now, after a few months, I need to readjust.  My intention and hope is that this group will flourish into a space where individuals can enter as their schedule permits and thoroughly discuss their reads, for good or bad.

In realizing that people need to connect in order to be inspired to return and participate, I am trying to write quick pieces, here and there, that draw interest, while relaying what I am, personally (outside of the group selections) reading. I am wondering, will this be enough for you, or do you need those light-hearted postings to connect with.  And yes, I am going to continue using the word connect, because it is essential to my purpose.

I want to give space for you to connect, but I need to admit that I do not think I have the stamina for daily posts on things like, whether anyone keeps the dust jackets on the books they are reading or if you can watch television and read at the same time or do you take breaks when you read?  Such topics are featured on just about every other book related site I have come across and while these may be easy to respond to, I prefer more depth.  I want to clarify – I am not, in any way, saying that these are bad questions or that they are not worth your attention, but rather that this is meant to be a reading group and not necessarily just a book related blog.

I am not a blogger.  I am much more accustomed to small groups, lingering moments and good conversation.  This is just me, personally.  I do not want to discount any other method, I merely wish to focus a little more specifically to actual reading discussion.

I would like to hear your voice on what I have expressed.  Here is what I am thinking in broken-down form:

My personal passion lives in discussion that is rich, full of various points of view and goes in-depth over what I am reading. This is what I would like to focus on with our site.  What I am wondering is how would you like this?  Would taking away the lighter questions of what you enjoy eating and drinking when you read take away from your experience?  The moment I publicly published this site, it became not only mine, but more yours.

Please feel free to express any and all thoughts along these lines.  I do not want to chase anyone away or infer that these lighter questions are not good enough, but I have never been one that has any talent or as I said before, stamina, for small talk.  This does not mean that small talk doesn’t have its place, just that I am not good at it.

Let me know your thoughts.

-Sea

I have to say that I am really proud of the membership we have here at, Reading With Sea. We have a diverse group and that is always a wonderful and unique dynamic.  At times, in certain circumstances (or most) diversity is a difficult goal to reach, but I can think of nothing better than diversity to lay a solid foundation that great discussion and camaraderie to flourish out of.   I am so pleased with our members.  The reason I am choosing this moment to make this sweeping sentimental announcement is that I have come across some writings by a couple of our fellow members.  One may not agree with the beliefs held in the ideas written about, but I could not imagine anyone being able to say it’s not amazingly well written.  On that note, I want to invite you to check out the blogs of a couple of our members:

Frank – http://www.frankdion.wordpress.com

Dee – http://www.createdformore.wordpress.com

With minds like these, no wonder these two just so happen to be married.

If you (fellow members) write and have your blog and want a “spotlight” get in touch with me and let me know.  I’d love to read your writing and be a support.

-Sea

We are nearing the end of March.  This is the second full month that our group has been alive.  I cannot tell you all enough that the more input we share with one another, the better this group will be.  How do you want this group to look as we head further on down the road?

On that note, I want to open discussion now.  If you have ideas, reflections, complaints, comments, musings, wishes, desires, expectations, etc., etc., share them with us here, by responding to this post.  Let us know how we can improve our group and continue to make this experience beneficial and enjoyable.

Adrienne Rich wrote a collection of poems entitled, The Dream of a Common Language, which I have always thought to be a nice sentiment.  I hope you will chose to respond to this post and express your thoughts so we can move into our third month with excitement and continue to improve our reading group.

-Sea

Are there any new directions we want to take?  Focuses we want to enter?  Trends we want to comment on?  Literature we want to explore?

If you could describe what type of books you prefer to read or read the most, what would it be?

-Sea