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Kimm

Objectivist Book Club

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Book clubs have become quite fashionable thanks to Oprah Winfrey. I have joined a book club because I discovered my reading has dwindled quite a bit over the years. Unfortunately, I find that the types of books chosen are quite disappointing for my Objectivist sensibilities. Imagining that there may be other Objectivists out there who would be interested in expanding their horizons, reading more and discussing that reading with others sharing the philosophy, I am exploring the feasability of starting an Objectivist book club possibly right here on this forum (if allowable) or in a seperate group if there is enough interest.

I think that choosing books that we, as Objectivists, might be more likely to enjoy may be quite interesting. There could be list of suggested books that might include Rand, some of Rand's favorites like Victor Hugo or even Mickey Spillane and Nevil Shute. Non-fiction could also be of interest, whether history or economics, politics or philosophy. Depending on whether or not there is any interest, the books for each month could be picked by a vote from suggestions or assigned by specific member for that month. The discussion could entail symbolism, writing styles and techniques, likes and dislikes.

I have enjoyed the increased time I dedicate to myself and the interesting viewpoints of others. That my current book club selections and viewpoints are coming from some unwholesome philosophical assumptions I enjoy less. In expanding my literary horizons and reading things with the backdrop of Objectivism, I discover more about myself and Objectivism. In the hopes that there are others who would be interested in an Objectivism-oriented book club, I decided to post this.

Thank you,

Kim M.

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Sounds interesting. Some of my local Objectivist friends and I had a Harry Potter discussion group and got together to discuss each book for 3 or 4 sessions.

I like the idea of having in depth discussions of Ayn Rand's novels. One person could choose an interesting scene or part of a novel that everyone can discuss from all angles: literary, psychological, ethical, political etc. All of Ayn Rand's books are such wonderful examples of applied philosophy.

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All of Ayn Rand's books are such wonderful examples of applied philosophy.

That's such a great way to put it. Many of us are familiar with Miss Rand's fiction but how many of us study Objectivism through her novels? I'm thinking of something along the lines of Andrew Bernstein's brilliant courses on topics that he hasn't covered.

I had for several years viewed her nonfiction as her philosophy work and her novels as her artistic work. I was wrong to make such a separation because now, on many levels, the novels further my understanding more than the nonfiction books do.

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It's a good idea. I would be interested if I could meet the deadlines. I was wondering if anyone would like to start now, using a bookclub format, and talk about Atlas or The Fountainhead.

Here's a question. Rand named her three parts after the Logical Axioms, I doubt that they are merely superficial names, does each part dramatize the named axiom more than the others do? For example, does Non-Contradiction have more on non-contradiction than Identity?

Americo.

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I would do it.  I really like Betsy's idea, and think that THAT would be the best place to start-with Ayn Rand's novels.

I disagree. One of the values I would hope to gain from an Objectivist book club would be a chance to learn about (and share) quality literature that might not be widely known. I *know* Ayn Rand's novels are great; I've already read them. I want to learn about and read high-quality literature I *haven't* read before.

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What great interest.

Book clubs generally work by everyone agreeing on a book and reading it by a specified date. I've never participated in an on-line book club before, but in person everyone would meet on the 'due' date and then talk specifically about the book for a few hours. In the one I'm currently in a person is selected to prepare some questions that we can then discuss. Of course there is no need to stick to the current questions, freely ranging into other areas is accepted. For a large book like Atlas Shrugged, it may be best to break it up into sections (300 to 400 pages seems the most managable by those of us who are already busy).

Since there have been a lot of replies, let's get started.

I think we may need an initial idea list to vote for this month's selection. Once we accumulate some number of suggestions, we'll do a vote for this month's selection. We could set a monthly deadline of the 2nd Monday of the month (so the first discussion would start on October 11th). It may be best to start a new thread for each book discussion.

Would it be agreeable to have the person whose submission is picked be the moderator/facilitator of the discussion and get us kicked off with their thoughts and perhaps some questions for us to post upon?

So if Betsy submitted We the Living and the greatest number of votes selected We the Living for the first discussion, Betsy would open the new thread and post the book and the read-by date and, on the date itself, some questions in relation to the book that we could use to kick off discussion and perhaps her initial thoughts on her questions and other random thoughts. I know that ARI has Teacher's guides for many of Rand's books and many publishers are catering to the book club phenomenon as well by including Reader Guides to help kick off discussions.

Ayn Rand's works may lend themselves to much more in-depth analysis, as Betsy pointed out. Since we're not limited to a two-hour get-together for each book, a thread devoted to that book that can go on indefinitely may be just the thing.

This is how I would envision it working. Any other suggestions?

To help get the ball rolling, I'll start collecting suggestions and the voting will begin whenever you see one you like (I'll post the current list with the person who submitted it and it's current vote total daily). The voting should be over by September 2nd so we have time to get the book and read it. We may want to pick two books (one for October and one for November) so that we can have plenty of time to order and read the books. So I think the winner and the runner up of the current vote will be the October and November book. We can pick the book next in-line while we're discussing the one we're reading in that thread. Any other suggestions? Is two months ahead enough?

I guess the only other thing to mention is that the book should be available on-line (like Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Ayn Rand Bookstore) so every one can get it.

I'll list my first suggestion as One Lonely Night by Mickey Spillane. It needs to purchased in a collection called The Mike Hammer Collection, Volume II. The entire collection of three Mike Hammer novels is 517 pages and is listed at Amazon for $11.25. From one of the customer reviews "this one has Hammer facing a communist cabal in NYC while helping a progressive politician fight against a possible scandal". I've never read it, but I am interested in reading something from the Pulp Fiction 50's.

Kim M.

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My suggestion is to start small. I'd like to pick a favorite scene in an Ayn Rand novel and discuss it to death for a week or two. (I'd like to do the "boy on the bicycle" scene at the beginning of the last book of The Fountainhead or Dagny and Francisco's childhood from Atlas.)

The next time we can take a new book or play by someone else and alternate like that as long as it is interesting to enough people.

Maybe GreedyCapitalist can set up a separate area on the board for Book Club topics.

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Count me in too. Though I'm not sure how much of the material I can read with a 19 hour course load :).

I like Betsy's suggestion of discussing favorite scenes from AR's novels, especially since its something I will have time for.

Manjari

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Wouldn't it be better to discuss a novel chapter by chapter? It would be easier to dissect a novel in small increments, then have an overall analysis when you finish the novel or play.

Anyway, I do have the Spillane book you mentioned already, so that one would be ok with me. Some other suggestions:

Barometer Rising, by Hugh MacLennan

The Crying Sisters, by Mabel Seeley

(I would prefer Seeley's The Whispering Cup, but it's out of print)

The Gadfly, by E. L. Voynich

Quo Vadis, by H. Sienkiewicz

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Wouldn't it be better to discuss a novel chapter by chapter?

That would be a big commitment and my suspicion is that less people would participate if that were the format. We tried this method a month or so ago with The Ominous Parallels and it didn't work very well.

Picking something that can be read in one sitting (i.e., small works/articles or selections of larger works) would be a much more manageable commitment. I, for one, would not participate in a chapter-by-chapter format whereas I would participate in something like the above. Betsy's suggestions, for example, are fairly quick reads but they can generate weeks worth of discussions. This format would allow for a much more selective focus and is more time friendly.

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I'll list my first suggestion as One Lonely Night by Mickey Spillane.  It needs to purchased in a collection called The Mike Hammer Collection, Volume II.  The entire collection of three Mike Hammer novels is 517 pages and is listed at Amazon for $11.25.  From one of the customer reviews "this one has Hammer facing a communist cabal in NYC while helping a progressive politician fight against a possible scandal".  I've never read it, but I am interested in reading something from the Pulp Fiction 50's.

I read all of Spillane's Mike Hammer series as it came out, and absolutely loved it. If you find that you really enjoy Spillane, you might also be interested in the Matt Helm series by Donald Hamilton. Another wonderful example of that genre.

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It seems there's a bit more interest for shorter works or specific scenes.

Suggestions so far:

One Lonely Night--Mickey Spillane, ~180 pages, $12, suggested by me

Boy on the Bicycle, selection from Fountainhead--Ayn Rand, suggested by Betsy Speicher

Dagny and Francisco childhood, selection from Atlas Shrugged--Ayn Rand, suggested by Betsy Speicher

Barometer Rising--Hugh MacLennan, 240 pages, $9, suggested by Kitty Hawk

The Crying Sisters--Mabel Seeley, 317 pages, $24, suggested by Kitty Hawk

The Gadfly--by E.L. Voynich, 312 pages, $15, suggested by Kitty Hawk

Quo Vadis--H. Sienkiewicz, 589 pages, $14, suggested by Kitty Hawk

Matt Helm series--Donald Hamilton, suggested by Stephen Speicher--may want to keep your eyes open for this at your local library sale. It does seem to be available through Amazon.

This can be whatever each of you chooses to make of it.

I would have a lot of catching up to do for a Fountainhead scene--it may seem impossible, but I have not read it!

So if you prefer works other than Rand, now's your chance to try to get something else in! Please cast two votes so we can get a winner for October and a runner-up for November, or two weeks later depending on the length of the read and depth of the discussion.

Kim M.

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My votes;

Book 1

I vote, as Betsy suggests, to start with a section of Atlas Shrugged.

1) We probably all have it available, so we can get the experiment going soon.

2) It's a good book.

3) It is as Objectivist and fiction.

4) We could join a book club anywhere if we wanted to study non-objectivist literature.

Book 2

AS could potentially last a lifetime, maybe we don't need a second book?! :rolleyes:

But if we do; any of the Mickey Spillane novel would be completely new to me and (I am guessing) it would be a complete contrast to Ayn Rand?

Brent

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Hugo, Hugo, Hugo. Hugo is nice. Thoyd, would you like to add a suggested title? Don't forget--this is not a one shot deal. If the book club works out, there will be plenty of opportunity to add to the list.

Brent, I did originally join a non-Objectivist book club only to end up with such reads as Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons, The DaVinci Code and Confederacy of Dunces. I believe there is a HUGE difference between the books that people who share an Objectivist philosophy would like and books that people with hodge-podge philosophies consider 'deep' and worthwhile.

I'm casting my vote for Barometer Rising, and I will refrain from voting for my own suggestion (if we each voted for our own, we may not get there) and The Crying Sisters.

So far we have:

Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged excerpt of Dagny and Francisco's childhood suggested by Betsy Speicher: 2 votes.

Mickey Spillane's One Lonely Night, suggested by me: 1 vote.

High MacLennan's Barometer Rising, suggested by Kitty Hawk: 2 votes.

Mabel Seeley's The Crying Sisters, suggested by Kitty Hawk: 1 vote.

E.L. Voynich's The Gadfly, suggested by Kitty Hawk

H. Sienkiewicz's Quo Vadis, suggested by Kitty Hawk

Donald Hamilton's Matt Helm Series, suggested by Stephen Speicher--possibly out of print

Alexandra York's Crosspoints, suggested by Manjari

We need a tie breaker! If anyone prefers different, please vote. Else, on Friday, we'll have Atlas Shrugged for October (good point, Brent, about us all having it) and Barometer Rising for November.

Betsy and Kitty Hawk, are you both comfortable with preparing some prompting questions and possibly leading the discussion? If not, we'll come up with something else.

I'm really excited! I hope that we all get some new insight and learning out of this club.

Thanks,

Kim M.

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Betsy and Kitty Hawk, are you both comfortable with preparing some prompting questions and possibly leading the discussion?  If not, we'll come up with something else.

I don't think I'b be comfortable as the discussion leader. I enjoy reading and discussing Romantic novels, but I'm no Shoshana Milgram, so to speak.

For my two votes, I'll go with Spillane's One Lonely Night, and MacLennan's Barometer Rising.

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