Book discussion thingie P3 - Reading "The Quarry"

Continuing the discussion from Book discussion thingie part the second - making a list to make a smaller list:

So, now that we’ve pretty unanimously decided to read The Quarry by Iain Banks, we can decide how exactly we’ll do this.

Questions that need to be answered:

  1. How long do members need to acquire this book?
  2. Are we going to read it all in one go or do it gradually, eg. discuss after every 3 chapters?
  3. Should we figure out number 2 by discussion here or vote on it on Loomio (or both)?
  4. Depending on which way we choose to do this, how much time will we give for people to read before discussing the work?

If I haven’t misunderstood, everyone is okay with doing this quarterly, meaning 3 months time reserved for one book. That’s hopefully not too little and not too much time The novel is 326 pages long, so it’s not a short one, but not a huge tome either.

If we decide to read the whole book in one go, it’ll be easier to organize since everyone can do it at their pace. On the other hand, I think we’ll forget some important little details that might be caught if we discuss the novel regularly and have it all fresh in our minds still. It’s also possible to read the book in two sessions and discuss it at the midway point, or read it in three sessions etc. But whatever we choose, let’s try to keep the nature of the book in question in mind. The writing style, plot, pacing etc. all have an effect on how easy or preferrable it is to discuss it at different intervals.


Personally, I will be reading it in two different ways.

I will devour the thing as fast as I can, potentially in only a few sittings, one or two if it’s really good and I have the time.

I will re-read the specified chapters more carefully and with a critical eye for the purpose of making a positive contribution to the discussions. Who knows, I may even take notes.

This being my first book club, I will be looking to the group for hints on how to conduct oneself. :regular_not_insane_smiley:

Oh, assuming we divide it up into chunks of more easily discussable reading. I will, of course, defer to the groups wishes in this regard.


This will be slowish for me. I am lucky enough to have a Kindle (plus the Android app) and enough disposable income to buy a book whenever I feel like it, so I had the book on my phone within seconds after the choice was finalized. But I’m certainly happy to wait until everyone (including the broke and those out in the Book-Desert Hinterlands) lays hands on a copy. (And hey, you broke folk: if ten quid is all that stands between you and the book, PM me and I’ll get an Amazon gift card out to you or something. Your participation is far more valuable to me than the dollar equivalent of a lunch at Taco Bell.)

If everyone had the book now and everyone read at my speed, my vote would be to discuss along the way, like every chapter or so. I started reading last night, and I’m already on Page 20, or about 6% of the way. I know there are chapters, since the book starts with a big ol’ 1, but I don’t know how many chapters there are since I’m still in Chapter 1, and the Kindle edition at least has no table of contents, and I am somewhat loath to flip ahead just to see where the 2 is. This is the kind of thing that sometimes makes me prefer dead trees. :wink:

So anyway, if we’re going to have to take up to three months to do this, I’m going to delay my reading until just before each deadline, to keep my memory fairly fresh. @Miasm 's re-reading approach sounds sensible to me, but I almost never have patience for re-reading a book until I’ve forgotten what happens in it.

In a perfect world, where you were all exactly like me (okay, for a given value of “perfect”), I’d suggest we’d start once everyone has a copy, discuss every chapter upon having read every chapter, and (based on a totally wild-guessed chapter length of, say, 30-50 pages), schedule one to two chapters a week. Of course, this may be wildly overoptimistic in terms of how fast people comfortably read and how intense they want the discussion to be, but anyone who paid attention to Badass Dragons of the Wasteland knows all too well how wildly overoptimistic about deadlines and scheduling I can get.

Maybe someone who has already read the book can suggest an appropriate size of bite-size pieces to read and discuss? Someone who is familiar with the pacing, and the density and subtext and all that stuff? I just think, IMHO, three months might be a good length of time to digest and discuss something like Infinite Jest or Gravity’s Rainbow, but might be too leisurely a pace to keep us all focused on this relatively slender volume. But that might just be me, of course.

Also, a side note: earlier in the book-nominating process, I mentioned that we could read Johnny Got His Gun, the 1939 National Book Award winner written by Dalton Trumbo, if only because I have half a case of paperback copies which I can mail out to interested readers who might otherwise have trouble securing a copy. That offer still stands for our next book, if enough people want to read it. (I, myself, somewhat shamefully haven’t read it yet, though these books have been in our house for nine years now. I did see Metallica’s One video, so at least I know the important plot points from the 1970 movie.)

And finally, when it comes to decision-making, I think we can have all the discussion here and only use Loomio when we’re ready to put things to a vote. (The Loomio-inaccessible can vote here and we can manually add their vote so they retain a voice.)

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As I mentioned elsewhere, I borrowed it from the library, so I will be reading the entire thing between now and mid-Feb, because I don’t have any choice :smile:

(feel free to send me a Taco Bell gift card though, @Donald_Petersen)


Those are need-based tacos only, sirrah. Demonstrate the need (by either not possessing a library card or salivating into my Inbox) and the card is yours!

We don’t have to use 3 months to do this, it’s just like the time limit. I’ve personally counted all this book choosing and pre-discussion to be a part of that time.

Like @miasm, I also might be reading the book in one go anyway and either taking notes or going back to the chapters when we discuss them. Or not. I’m not sure, honestly. I really kind of would like to discuss this in parts, because then we can get as in-depth discussion as possible, but I just want the organization to be as easy as possible and stress-free for participants.

To those who already have the book in their possession: how many chapters are there?

Can’t you re-borrow it? Or is it in such high demand? I’m probably getting my library copy tomorrow, and unless many people suddenly want it really bad, I’ll probably be able to re-borrow it online. You get 3 re-borrows before you have to return the book, so I can keep it for almost 4 months (unless someone else wants it when there’s no other copy available)…

The library has two copies of the ebook, and some dead tree versions, to be honest I was surprised there were no holds on it (I’ve always had to wait for the Culture ones).

I can definitely renew (2 or 3 times, I think) if there aren’t holds, and could always go back on the hold list, anyway. Getting it back again won’t be an issue if needed.

But I don’t expect I’ll struggle to get it read by then anyway.

Yeah, that’s how I think we should operate, too. DIscussion here, possible voting in Loomio.

Where’s the main book discussion thread? (I’ve already read the book some time prior to boingboing even contmplating a book club, but The quarry is at hand, and ready to be reread.)

The link is at the start of this thread.

Since you’ve read the book, can you tell me how many chapters it has? And knowing the pacing of the book, how often would you personally like to discuss the book as we read?

Should I post this to the blog and let people know what we are going to be reading and that they can join the discussion here?


Excellent suggestion, but I move that we work out the logistical details first, with a reading schedule, and all those instructions posted to the beginning of the Discussion thread so even the (very welcome) n00bs know what we’re doing and when.


I wouldn’t mind, but I want to know what others think. Especially @Mindysan33, since this was her idea to begin with.

That sounds like a good idea. Let’s figure out the schedule and then more people can join if they want to. This is hard to organize as it is, with so many people with so many different situations. I guess we just need to grab the bull by the horns and make a decision.



Sounds good to me. Just let me know.

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I think @jerwin refers to the eventual thread that will actually contain the discussion (correct me if I’m wrong!), and we don’t really officially have one yet, as far as I know. Once we work out the schedule, I think we should start that thread. If we decide to read and discuss by chapters, it would make sense to begin with a thread entitled BBS Book Thingie Discussion - The Quarry Chapter One and start the thread with a post outlining the schedule and whatever few instructions are necessary (like, maybe, “Discussion of Chapter One goes in this thread. We begin reading on 2/06/15 [or whenever], and the goal is to have the first chapter read by 2/13/15 [or what-have-you]. You may begin discussion as soon as you’ve finished reading, but people who haven’t finished the chapter won’t be reading this thread until they have, so discussion may be a bit light before 2/13 [or etc.].”) Anyway, those guidelines are totally fake and for illustrative purposes only, but I think it might help guide the discussion (especially if people decide to join in) if each chapter has its own thread and each thread begins with a small instructive paragraph like that.

Whaddaya think?

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I think we ought to wait to open discussion until the date we are all supposed to be done – I think it’ll encourage more participation from the slower readers and faster readers… I read at a pretty fast pace (one-two books a day) and fear I’d be done with the thread before others even joined it.


Yeah, that will probably be the way to go. God knows I’m never able to enjoy TV Club-type discussions of most of my favorite shows, since my circumstances always keep me two or three episodes behind the broadcast, so I feel excluded from all those yummy discussions, since they’re over before I’m ready. Somehow, though, I always have time to read (if only because my bowels are so fabulously regular), and I’m treating this discussion like a fun homework assignment with hard-and-fast deadlines, since I’m looking forward to the discussion so dang much.

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That sounds like a good plan. Of course, we first have to make sure that the majority actually wants to discuss this chapter-by-chapter (or less frequently, like every 3-5 chapters), and not after reading the whole book. I made a proposal in Loomio so people can vote on this issue, and then we can use that result as guidance on how to proceed (it’s not a final decision, just something to easily check people’s opiions).

Here’s the Loomio community again:

If you haven’t joined yet and want to, you can do that, but it’s not mandatory. Your opinions will be heard here just as well.

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Okay, turns out the Kindle ebook does have a Table of Contents. (Derp on my part, just forgot to look in the new place where the new version of the Android app puts it.)

Eight chapters in total.

Chapter One - around 33 pages
Chapter Two - 51 pages
Chapter Three - 49 pages
Chapter Four - 41 pages
Chapter Five - 45 pages
Chapter Six - 40 pages
Chapter Seven - 61 pages
Chapter Eight - 5 pages

So… maybe one chapter a week, with the last two chapters combined for Week 7? How does that sound to everyone?

I’m gonna go vote on Loomio. I’ll post this breakdown there as well.


eight chapters

1: 1
2: 35
3: 86
4: 135
5: 176
6: 221
7: 261
8: 322

end of book: 326
So yeah, a lot of things happen in chapter 7…

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