Sunday Salon: Abandoning Anna

Remember when I was really excited to join the read-a-long for Anna Karenina? And then I only managed to post once about it? Anna, it's not you. It's me.

In all seriousness, I was enjoying reading Anna Karenina, which surprised me somewhat. What I was surprised to find, however, is that despite my love of sharing the reading experience, I don't like read-a-longs. I didn't like having arbitrary places to stop each week. I found myself focusing on the ending points more than the book itself. I had trouble forming my thoughts for weekly blog posts. When I read, I want to be swept away at the pace that feels right. Reading a set number of pages each week was unsatisfying.

I do love discussing books once I've read them, and I think that's one reason I so enjoy my new book club. For book club discussions, count me in. For read-a-longs, however, I think I'll pass until the final discussion.

I'm already starting to think about my 2012 reading goals, and reading more classics is once again in play (although perhaps in a more realistic way for next year.) In fact, I'm going to spend my extra hour today perusing my copy of 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die to help pick which classics I'll read next year.

Now tell me: do you like read-a-longs (discussing books as you read) or book clubs (discussing books after you've finished them) better?

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  1. When it comes to blogging, I very much prefer just waiting until the end or perhaps for very long books doing something at the mid-point and then again at the end. Having all the dates to keep up with just disrupts the reading for me.

    However, my church's book group breaks books up into small chunks (50-100 pages) each week, and it works very well. I think it probably works because we usually read nonfiction, and breaking the books up gives us a limited number of topics to dicuss each week. With novels, it works less well, although it does work.

  2. I have a hard time with readalongs for the same reason that you do. I often get swept up in the tide and want to read more than the others are reading, and that makes me a little dissatisfied. I had this problem with War and Peace, and eventually gave up. It's a super huge book, and I just couldn't get into reading a chapter a day for some reason. I can understand what you mean perfectly.

  3. I have a hard time with readalongs as well. I typically finish the book ahead of time if I really like it, or I drag behind and hate the deadlines if I dislike the book. I'd rather give it a good shot and discuss afterwards.

  4. I'm with you, Carrie - I don't like to spread a book out over weeks. I usually read only one book at a time, and I read about 100 pages a read-a-longs don't work for me. On the other hand, I love book club reads.

  5. Readalongs generally don't work well for me either. I need to just stay engaged with a book the whole way through, which is why I haven't read Anna Karenina yet. I need to wait for the perfect time.

  6. I'm just about to participate in my first readalong (Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility for "Advent with Austen":, so I'm very curious how it's going to go. I have to say I was a bit apprehensive even before reading your post and now even more so - but I guess I won't know whether I'm cut out for readalongs before I've tried, right? I'm mainly worried that I won't be able to keep up because I don't have a lot of time right now, or that I won't like the book...

  7. I agree that sticking to a reading schedule sometimes takes the fun out of a book. I like read-alongs, but I do tend to storm ahead and then schedule my posts for the appropriate weeks and join in with the discussions as they appear. I am pleased that you are still enjoying Anna - I was worried your post meant you hated it.

  8. I've only done a couple of readalongs, but I've actually really enjoyed them. I read books I probably wouldn't have read otherwise. Plus, if I get ahead, I just wait to post my thoughts.

    I also usually have several books going on at the same time, so spreading it out doesn't bother me.

    Oh - and Anna took me longer than it has EVER taken me to read a book: a year. A whole year. It certainly wasn't a favorite.

  9. I like read a longs when the books are really long, otherwise I might not have anything else to say on my blog for a long time ;)

  10. Personally I rather just review or discuss a book only after I've finished. To me it's just easier time-wise (of which I never seem to have enough). Off to check out the Book Club link.

  11. My inability to participate in readalongs or challenges or all of those other popular blogger activities stems from the fact that I can't plan my reading in the least. Even when I was in school and I had to read a book according to a certain schedule, I would always just speed ahead to be able to work on my own terms. Or I would read the book ahead of time just to be assigned a different book... So neither form of discussion really works for me. I just go with the flow and if I happen to be able to participate in a discussion - awesome. This is unfortunately rare, but a predictable side-effect of my personal reading style...

  12. I've never been in a book club but I don't really like read-a-longs for the same reason as you... And I never finish the books when I do read-a-longs!


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