So what about a Book Club?

Those of you that follow me on Twitter (and if you are interested you can find me as @sunglar, but be forewarned I do ramble on) will know that besides RPGs I work way too much, been called a workaholic, and literature. Currently I’m participating in the second book club I’ve belonged to and loving every minute of it. I think books clubs are great opportunities to share ideas, discuss topics and engage in social interaction sometimes with people close to you, other times stretching your wings and making new friendships.

Book Clubs are certainly more prominent in popular culture, from being the butt of jokes like in the recent comedy Date Night, to appearing in the first episode of the third season of LOST. I recall somebody telling me they did not know of the concept of a book club until they watched that episode of LOST. I belonged to a book club in 2004 and we read some bestsellers, literary classics and lesser known books, but the composition of the club was mostly “lay people”, i.e. not role players. The current book club has only been together for a couple of months and we’ve read various popular books (Shutter Island, Wicked, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Girl who Played with Fire) but this time around the mix includes fellow role-players, geeks and scientists so our reading options are certainly more varied!

If you have never participated in a Book Club group I greatly encourage it. To me role playing games are first and foremost a social activity, the interaction, sharing fun times with friends, are amongst the highlights of gaming. All that being said, the idea of an RPG themed book club has been buzzing around in my head; I’ve thought of the possibility of selecting books of interest to role-players or maybe even selecting an RPG rulebook and discussing it. It could be via a message board, a chat room or even an actual conversation using the communication services out there in the internet.

There are virtual Book Clubs out there, and I know there was even an RPG book club in EN World at some point. So the question is; are any of you out there interested in a Stargazer’s World RPG Book Club? Would you rather we read a novel of interest to gamers or a rulebook and discuss it? If there is interest we could organize something…

Let me know what you think!

14 thoughts on “So what about a Book Club?”

  1. I like the idea of a Stargazer’s World RPG Book Club. Very much, in fact.

    Depending on what the book itself is – probably fiction moreso than an actual rulebook – I would be very interested.

  2. An RPG-centric book club that would include reading games, scenarios, sourcebooks and possibly spin-off fiction is a really cool one. As with most such clubs, availability of product is the main problem (that's why so many clubs i've seen center around bestsellers), but if people are game to at least grab pdfs, it'd be a great way to broaden one's horizons. For example, I haven't read a D&D product since before 3e, and I'm sure lots of people haven't read any NON-D&D products.

    I would also hope more vintage items would be considered and not just new releases. Another idea: Since availability can be a problem, a fun theme for a week could be, say "Ravenloft adventures". Different participants might read different products that fall under that theme (either the RL line or the original RL adventures) and discuss them, compare notes, etc.

  3. I'd be up for that. What kind of format are you thinking? Tapping into a forum somewhere? A blog post with a long comment trail? Each of us do a blog post with initial thoughts, and comment on each others' posts?

    There are some obvious pros and cons with each method.

  4. Hi, I'm running the Literary Role Playing Game Society of Westchester. Our mission is to work on creating more literary quality worlds, and one of the means we've devised to help us with this is to read classical literature, and high quality fiction and fantasy. We've compiled a pretty great list of recommended readings for gamesmasters on our yahoo groups site, in case you or your readers are interested. You can find the list by joining the 'LRPGSW' on yahoo groups and then going to the database section, and then looking at the 'Recommended Readings' table. They are categorized by genre, so it's relatively easy to search through the list by genre (such as 'fantasy', 'historical', 'science fiction', etc).

    That said, what we haven't done to date is actually run a Book Club where we select one book to discuss collectively. That's a marvelous idea, and I'll pitch it to our group and see if we have takers. Thanks for the thoughts!


  5. Greetings all! Really excited about the response, let me answer to each one individually. I’ll finish up with some general remarks.

    @Dane of War, glad you are interested. So I take it your vote would be to read fiction. Would you be OK with an inclusive reading list? Read some fiction as well as rulebook?

    @Mark, great you are on board too… Do you have any preferences in terms of fiction or rulebooks?

    @Siskoid I love your ideas… I think that would be a great way to broaden or reading horizons. Availability of the books to be read is an issue but I Think we can work around it if we plan ahead. I’ll take some ideas for the general remarks at the end.

    @Lugh, in all sincerity I’m open to considerations. We could either do a topic in a forum, or each of us writes a blog posts, or someone could “host” each month (every other month, depending on frequency) and we each contribute in the comments, or even meet in a chat room, talk via skype, we could plan and alternate… Let’s discuss this!

    @VBWyrde that sounds like an excellent idea! I already submitted my request to join the Yahoo Group. My MA is in English Lit so I’ve read many of the classics of English Literature. The Book Clubs I’ve belonged to have been a greatly rewarding experience, I can’t recommend it enough. It’s an excuse to read a good book (not that I need one) and a chance to get together with other people interested in literature, spend some time together, we usually go to a nice restaurant and talk over dinner. Currently were also going to see the theatrical adaptations of the books we’ve read. Doing it virtually we have to think about the options, so let me move on to my general remarks…

    Let me reiterate, I am thrilled about the possibility of a Stargazer’s World book club. Before we actually take a plunge I think there are various considerations.

    1. The books: Are we going to read books on subjects that interest gamers (sci-fi, fantasy, etc.), or even gaming inspired literature, or are we going to incorporate gaming books (rule-books, modules, sourcebooks)? My opinion is that we could play around with the selection and make it a good mix of all of the above.

    I particularly like the idea Siskoid proposed of maybe selecting a theme, say Ravenloft modules, Old School Game rules (we can all come to an agreement on what that means) and then everybody contributes their impression about what they read. I know this is a variation of the traditional “book club” concept but I think it could work along with some more traditional readings (i.e. we all read a book and talk about it).

    2. Time: How often could we discuss a book? Is this something we can plan monthly, bi monthly? Maybe we can alternate, one month reading a book and another month a rulebook (module, game system, etc.). What would be a feasible commitment?

    3. Medium: Where to discuss? Lugh had some interesting ideas… I think a forum topic could be a useful place, as well as using our blogs. If everybody writes a different blog post the only bad thing is that we don’t all have a place to keep all comments together (there may be a techie way to do this and my poor 20th century mindset doesn’t know about it!) but I like the idea of taking turns as hosts, the hosts writes his initial post and then the other members of the club chime in via the comments.

    With technology being what it is we could even have a chat over skype or a chat room in real-time for special occasions. So what do you think, forum or put together a host calendar an each person takes care of that month (or bimonthly) topic?

    I’d like to get some feedback on what you may think about this and then I could write a follow up post, maybe with a poll to cement some ideas. Thank you all!

  6. My votes:

    Rotate between gaming books, gaming-related non-fiction, and gaming-related fiction. Preferably 50% gaming books, 25% non-fiction, 25% fiction. (I.e., game, NF, game, F)

    Rotate hosting the main post for the book. Possibly even have the host pick the book, to bypass tricky voting rules. Comment on the blog post.

    Each book should be announced by the first of the month, and discussion begins the first of the following month. That should give plenty of time to acquire and read the book.

    Rule 4: No pooftas.

  7. I would point out that some books take more time to read than others. Whomever recommends or decides a book should take that into account. Some longer books might be best split up into sections for reading, with a conclusion. I think a maximum number of pages per month for me would be 100, since I have an inordinantly busy schedule. But I do like the idea, and would like to participate if possible. Of course my requirements are not average. I'm working on a number of projects and so I can't see being able to squeeze much more on my plate. But I really like this idea, so I'll try.

  8. @vbwyrde: It's a good point, and with proper planning, we could stack a 24-page adventure module with a 175-page sourcebook/rule set. A light month followed by a heavy month. Knowing the study plan say, 4 books in advance, also makes it easier to track down the reading materials.

  9. Color me interested…

    I'm always in the lookout for good gaming related literature.

    I like the inclusive reading idea. I would suggest throwing maybe a little historical fiction into the mix…


  10. Well, for our part on the LRPGSW Yahoo Group we registered some interest and so started with Chapter 1 of Beowulf. We had some interesting comments on it, and will proceed to Chapter 2 soon. I think given people's busy schedules I'm not shooting for a high level of commitment, but instead a casual approach. Our plan is to simply cover a chapter at a time, discuss, and move on to the next chapter as time permits. I've enjoyed the commentary so far.

  11. Siskoid, I must admit I’ve been lax on following this up. I intend on doing something. I recently had a loss in my family (which is no excuse I know), that couple with work has kept me busy. I hope to write a follow up post next week. Sorry for the delay and thanks for the interest.

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