Tag: critical reading

Thoughts on Book Clubs

Posted June 27, 2014 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Literature / 6 Comments

I am not sure if you have noticed but I love books and I love talking about them to excess. I think my wife tends to get sick of my talking about books so I’m lucky to have a book blog where I can focus most of my bookish energy. If my book blog isn’t enough and I still need to talk about books, I often turn to social media. Also there is one other avenue that I use to satisfy my bookish obsessions and that is book clubs.

Now I have an addiction to the book clubs on Goodreads, I’m involved in a few of them but some how ended up being moderators for all of them. Most of them I started because I felt there was a gap in the wide range of Goodreads book clubs that needed to be filled. I would be happy if someone took over as moderator but I’m also happy to be a part of any Goodreads book club that is doing something unique. My primary focus on Goodreads is obviously the Literary Exploration book club, where we get a chance to read from different genres every month. This is the only book club I feel I have to read the book assigned every month.

However I’m also apart of a book club hosted by my local indie bookstore, I love the real life element of this book club. I know this may surprise people, the socially awkward introvert enjoying being out in public but I do all right if I talk about books. I like that the bookstore tends to pick books I don’t know about or had not thought about reading. As a literary explorer this book club has really pushed me into books out of my comfort zone. This has an added bonus; I love being the person that has a different opinion to everyone else. More often than not I’m the one that loves or hates a book while others think differently; I’m not always alone but I like that my opinion is different.

I enjoy hating a book almost as much as liking a book, I just love books and it doesn’t matter my opinion of the book. I find it freeing to write negative reviews and talking about what is wrong with a book. Almost to a point where the idea of a bitchy book club was talked about on social media, a place were people talk about the flaws of a book rather than what they liked about the book. This idea never took off; I doubt there are many people interested in this approach to a book club but I think it would of being fun.

There are negatives about book clubs as well but nothing to dramatic. I personally would love to see more critical thought put into a book when it comes to book clubs. Goodreads book clubs tend to be very basic and there is never any in depth analysis to the books being read. I would love to find a book club that explores literature in great detail; I am still trying to learn how to read critically and I think a place that can help develop these skills would do me a world of good. I have ideas for a club like this but I lack the skills, I’m a novice and I think that makes me wrong for the job.

I digress and need to get back on topic; I use book clubs as an avenue to feed my bookish obsessions but also to help develop my skills. I mentioned that I’m a socially awkward introvert and going to a book club that meets in real life has helped me communicate my bookish love. When I first started I was quiet and didn’t say much but the more I go, the better I have become at talking about books, expressing my opinions about the books. This has been a huge help, not only socially but I think it has had a positive effect on blogging too. I can talk about books with ease online but this book club has helped me develop different ways at looking at a book. I think other people’s opinions on books can be an asset in developing your own skills.

Now I want to ask the readers about book clubs, do they go to a book club, what works and doesn’t work, and anything else you wish to say on the topic. I am particularly interested in ways to find develop my critical reading skills, I know practise makes perfect but I would love to find a way that both nurtures and pushes me. Goodreads doesn’t seem to have that, or I haven’t found it there, so I wrote this post as a way to ask the question and talk about book clubs in general.

Become a Better Reader

Posted September 13, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Literature / 15 Comments

I have been thinking about myself as a reader lately and I thought I might talk about it in a post. I really want to be a better reader but there seems to be so much I need to learn or get into a habit of doing. So below is a list of those things and I would love it if people can give me some hints or tips to help improve myself as a reader.

Note taking
I really struggle with this; I want to learn to write down thoughts and interesting quotes but never seem to work out a good way to do this. I don’t often have a notepad with me so I don’t know how to get into a habit or what will help. I thought about using Tumblr or Goodreads progress updates to do that but I’m not sure if they will help. I just have to somehow train myself into doing this.

Reading Critically
I want to be able to pick out symbolism, motifs and themes throughout the book. If you have been a reader of my blog for a while you probably can see that my reviewing seems to have improved and has more of a focus on critical understanding but I still think I’m a long way off to where I want to be. This might mean I need to read slower and reread books.

Understanding Literary Theory
I think part of reading critically would be to learn literary theory and that can be tricky. I started a BA in English Lit to learn this stuff but feel like I haven’t got into literary theory yet which is probably not true, I’m just impatient. I would love if there were a podcast or something that will slowly go through basic literary concepts and explain them in a practical, easy to understand manner. If I was smarter I would write my own but I still need to learn and probably need help to bounce my autodidactic learning off to make sure I’m on the right track.

Better Reviews
I struggle with synopsis’s and often fill tempted to use a book blurb or Goodreads synopsis instead. This is just one element of a book review that I want to improve, I know I’m getting better but I would love to write ten pages analysing a book without any effort. I know people won’t want to read a review that long but if I learn to write something like that, then I can work out a way to incorporate that into my blog.

There is a lot to learn here and I think I will eventually get to a place where all these points will be incorporated into my regular reading life. When that day comes I am sure I will have a new goal, I’m just inpatient and I want to have a better understanding in literature than I do now. I feel this will come with practise and continually pushing myself to be better and I hope that my blog is a reflection in this progress.