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Questions of the day

Thursday, Jul 10, 2014

* I’ve been thinking lately that maybe we ought to do a “Book Club” thingy here. Jim Nowlan’s new “Fixing Illinois: Politics and Policy in the Prairie State,” made me think a bit more about it. Bernie reviewed the book today.

It would a regular feature, once a month or every other month. Very Illinois-centric. Maybe I’d pick some and maybe the readers would pick others. Perhaps a brief post from the author could be included.

I’m really not exactly sure how to work this. So…

* Question 1: Should we do a book club here? Take the poll

survey services

* Question 2: How should we go about it?

Please try to answer both questions. Thanks.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - steve schnorf - Thursday, Jul 10, 14 @ 1:25 pm:

    1. Sure
    2. Let me choose the first 3 books

  2. - Anon - Thursday, Jul 10, 14 @ 1:25 pm:

    Sounds great. I think many don’t pick up a book as often as they should (me included) and this would be a great incentive.

  3. - Easy - Thursday, Jul 10, 14 @ 1:26 pm:


    Can I get a 10% cut on all future book-related advertising on this website?

  4. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Jul 10, 14 @ 1:27 pm:

    Let’s try to keep the snark to a minimum. If we’re gonna do it, we have to figure out how to do it.

  5. - wordslinger - Thursday, Jul 10, 14 @ 1:29 pm:

    Yes, definitely. I’m always looking for new books, and usually have a few ideas.

  6. - Birdseed - Thursday, Jul 10, 14 @ 1:29 pm:

    How many options can you put on the EasyPolls? Nominate them, then vote for them.

  7. - walker - Thursday, Jul 10, 14 @ 1:30 pm:


    I’d rather a couple of the commenters here would co-write a book, or maybe guest columns. I learn more here than from many of the columns in the dailys. Rich excels of course.

  8. - siriusly - Thursday, Jul 10, 14 @ 1:31 pm:

    I bought a copy of Sen. Dixon’s book but never had the opportunity for him to sign it. I’d like to suggest that be the second book. Great idea Rich.

  9. - Sarge - Thursday, Jul 10, 14 @ 1:31 pm:

    1. Have readers nominate the possible books.
    2. Have a panel pick the book selections.
    3. Select an independent Illinois book store to be the preferred supplier.
    4. Have the author of the selected book compose a blog post highlighting the book.
    5. Ask readers to submit questions for the author.
    6. Have the author answer the submitted questions in a later post.

  10. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Jul 10, 14 @ 1:34 pm:

    Voted “Yes”.

    Would have to think on how to “do it”…any chance to learn within this Crew is a positive.

  11. - Rod - Thursday, Jul 10, 14 @ 1:35 pm:

    I voted yes, but the proposed book in my opinion is deeply conservative in its perspective given that both of the authors are former presidents of the Taxpayers’ Federation of Illinois. Given that they are in my opinion hostile to the what I would call the foundations of neo-Keynesian economics it would probably drive me over the cliff to read the book. But I do believe they might provide some useful information on the current situation of our state.

    Read more:

  12. - Ghost - Thursday, Jul 10, 14 @ 1:36 pm:

    Yes, I would start by featuring new releases from Illinois authors. if you run out of new releases start goin backwards to alread published books newest first.

    Maybe around the holidays select a fun book and try to get a book store to donate a percentage of the sales to buy clothes and gifts for foster kids… they dont get a lot of toys as they have no one out trying to spoil them….

  13. - Ron Burgundy - Thursday, Jul 10, 14 @ 1:36 pm:

    Yes. Just put a few candidates for the book selections in a poll.

  14. - Norseman - Thursday, Jul 10, 14 @ 1:37 pm:

    Nice idea.

    - Book must be non-fiction.
    - Illinois tie
    - Author post good idea
    - Request comments reviewing book or suggesting book for next book.

    I’m sure you’ll not disappoint.

  15. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Jul 10, 14 @ 1:39 pm:

    37 percent so far are voting “No” and I’d really like to hear from some of them, please.

  16. - Norseman - Thursday, Jul 10, 14 @ 1:39 pm:

    P.S. A little off topic. I’d love to see Word write a piece expanding about his peeps experience in WW II. He’s provided a number of interesting stories.

  17. - lake county democrat - Thursday, Jul 10, 14 @ 1:39 pm:

    Andrew Sullivan has a working model of an online book club - it’s heavily dependent on being able to interract with the author in some capacity (like fielding questions from the readers, an interview, etc.)

  18. - Carl Nyberg - Thursday, Jul 10, 14 @ 1:41 pm:

    You could have readers break into factions and rotate which faction picks the book. E.g. Dem, GOP, other.

    Ideally, the book would be pre-read with questions to discuss so people could read the book with an eye for discussing those issues.

    Ideally, the questions would be prepared by a few different people from different perspectives.

    If the book is one per month, the discussion could be broken-up into areas.

    Monday, Wednesday, Friday for three weeks. Nine discussions of a book. That provides for in-depth discussion of each piece.

  19. - Carl Nyberg - Thursday, Jul 10, 14 @ 1:43 pm:

    My suspicion is that “no” votes come from people who feel like they won’t read the book (don’t have time or something) and they don’t want to be left-out of discussion or on unequal footing.

    But I am speculating.

  20. - Anon - Thursday, Jul 10, 14 @ 1:44 pm:

    Great idea! It would give those of us who are interested some structure and get us to read some books we otherwise never would. Here’s a specific plan:

    1) Rich would pick the first book, and then let his top commenters (Word, Steve,Willie) each pick a book.
    2) Give us three weeks to read it.
    3) Then open a discussion thread.
    4) If the author is still alive, see if he or she would participate in some way, via an interview with Rich perhaps.

  21. - A guy... - Thursday, Jul 10, 14 @ 1:45 pm:

    Sorry. I’m another yes. I’m not in favor of Schnorf picking the first 3 books. I sleep just fine now. lol.
    Do it like you do everything else here: Pick a few of your own. Let us pick some. Put them up on a “Question of the Month” and let democracy take over. Keep your veto pen for off topic ones. But if the crowd picks it, they better damn well read ‘em. Put a price limit on the books and an Amazon link. Your crew doesn’t do much with paper and bindings. JMO.

  22. - Fiscal Sense - Thursday, Jul 10, 14 @ 1:45 pm:

    Select a book every month from an Illinois-ooriented book list such as the “Best Illinois Book List”

    Selection process could start at #1 moving downward until a new book makes its way to the top group.

  23. - Anon - Thursday, Jul 10, 14 @ 1:47 pm:

    Perhaps the NO voters are those who wouldn’t participate anyway. Just because they aren’t interested should not prevent the majority who are from having a book club. It’s no skin off the noses of non-readers.

  24. - Carl Nyberg - Thursday, Jul 10, 14 @ 1:47 pm:

    For me, the author participating isn’t particularly important, but I may be in the minority.

    Someone once said about blogging that someone in the audience almost always knows more about any one subject than the blog author.

    There’s enough knowledge in this community to have a discussion that improves understanding.

  25. - Stones - Thursday, Jul 10, 14 @ 1:48 pm:

    Voted no. I don’t see any harm in the idea but frankly I don’t have the time nor do I particularly enjoy reading books. For that reason I would be unlikely to participate.

  26. - Carl Nyberg - Thursday, Jul 10, 14 @ 1:49 pm:

    I’m a bit concerned about picking books by vote. I was in a book club and it seemed like one faction always outvoted the other faction.

    Better to rotate choices between factions.

  27. - Carl Nyberg - Thursday, Jul 10, 14 @ 1:49 pm:

    I’m a bit concerned about picking books by vote. I was in a book club and it seemed like one faction always outvoted the other faction.

    Better to rotate choices between factions.

  28. - walker - Thursday, Jul 10, 14 @ 1:53 pm:

    Hoorah Sarge. Takin’ charge! :)

    (Rich will figure it out.)

  29. - Rayne of Terror - Thursday, Jul 10, 14 @ 1:54 pm:

    In other book clubs I’ve been in I have really appreciated it when we only selected books that were available in paperback. I don’t necessarily want to spend $18 to $30 on a book club book in hardback. I think you could put up a poll of three books every so often and we read the book that wins the poll.

  30. - Responsa - Thursday, Jul 10, 14 @ 2:00 pm:

    I think it’s worth pursuing but I’d personally be interested mostly in history type books; books that feature influential and perhaps lesser known Illinoisans of the past, books that research and discuss how Illinois and various IL cities and counties developed geographically, economically, and politically, and how and why our state has responded to specific internal and external larger social and political influences and problems along the way.

    Contemporary biographies autobiographies and memoirs, and modern “cause” books are of much less interest to me. They are usually fraught with partisan ferver, are either image creation or image rehabilitation projects, or are talking point central etc., and we get enough of all that through gossip, news sites, and blogs.

  31. - Anonymous - Thursday, Jul 10, 14 @ 2:01 pm:

    I think your proposed book is excellent, but I would also like books from liberal authors. Just reading or listening to the same views all the time is boring.

  32. - D.P.Gumby - Thursday, Jul 10, 14 @ 2:02 pm:

    There is an Illinois History Reading Group at the ALPLM. It would be a great place to get ideas for some the reading list.

  33. - A guy... - Thursday, Jul 10, 14 @ 2:03 pm:

    I don’t know Walk. Looks to me like Sarge’s full time is hiring for the IDNR. Too many rules. Too much fuss.

  34. - 47th Ward - Thursday, Jul 10, 14 @ 2:05 pm:

    I’m a no voter. Nothing against books or this idea, but I think we’d quickly run out of good Illinois-centric non-fiction to cover. It isn’t something I’d participate in, that’s for sure.

    Frankly, I only respect the opinions of Rich and a small handful of commenters here. I think I’d find better things to do with my time than discuss a book with some of you (and I’m certain many of you feel the same about me).


  35. - Soccermom - Thursday, Jul 10, 14 @ 2:05 pm:

    Not just new books, please. I would love to discuss Boss with this crowd, for example.

  36. - Responsa - Thursday, Jul 10, 14 @ 2:09 pm:

    A group read or re-read of Donald Miller’s “City of the Century” would be my vote for a great place to start out as the inaugural book.

  37. - Modest proposal - Thursday, Jul 10, 14 @ 2:10 pm:

    I voted no, but it’s a soft no. I wholeheartedly support the idea. I prolly wouldn’t just find the time to participate, so I don’t want to support something I’m probably going to flake out of..

  38. - The Prince - Thursday, Jul 10, 14 @ 2:18 pm:

    Yes. But older books should be included as well such as Boss (suggested earlier), Milton Rakove’s book and others.

  39. - Miss Marie - Thursday, Jul 10, 14 @ 2:30 pm:

    I voted yes. I feel like there’s a lot I could learn. And I agree with Anon. There’s enough people who voted yes, that those who voted no can just not participate.

  40. - CirularFiringSquad - Thursday, Jul 10, 14 @ 2:33 pm:

    Yes Capt Oprah have a book club.
    Can we have veto power over Schnorf’s picks?
    Just in case he goes off the deep end
    BTW I think Taylor Pensoneau has a new book. Probably a lot better than Nowlan who is a nice guy and a little out of touch

  41. - Dirty Red - Thursday, Jul 10, 14 @ 2:41 pm:

    A Contributing Literature Editor

  42. - Precinct Captain - Thursday, Jul 10, 14 @ 2:46 pm:


    It could be a monthly thing in weekly installments. Maybe a seminar type thing with a book club post on Fridays and the comments being people’s responses to a set of chapters. It could even be a weekend feature on CapFax if anyone was interested. There’s a reason CapFax is generally “off” on the weekends, but for something like this the comments could be opened up on a book club post on Sunday nights or afternoons and people could post thoughts, quotes, etc. Then on Monday you could write up a short reaction and analysis of your own, woven with some of the best thoughts, analysis, and reaction that readers posted on Sunday night.

  43. - Vasyl - Thursday, Jul 10, 14 @ 2:50 pm:

    Simple is better.

    Rich can pick the book. A few weeks later, post a question regarding the book and let the commenters here start discussing the book. Even if the posts are not about the question, as long as they are about the book they should be considered on topic. Big rule in the discussion is that commenters should identify to whom they are responding.

    Next book should be identified when the question about the book is posted.

    I think getting authors involved would be great, but some extra work in coordination. For now, simple is best.

  44. - Jay Dee - Thursday, Jul 10, 14 @ 3:09 pm:

    Yes because I love books.

    An occasional open thread allowing commentors lobbying for their chosen book. Rich can pick which book should be the “book of the month/week” or something based on the quality of the comment supporting the book.

  45. - Ahoy! - Thursday, Jul 10, 14 @ 3:11 pm:

    Voted yes because I think there are some really smart people who comment on these things and I believe I would enjoy getting book recommendations from this group.

    Maybe if Rich could get some ideas on books we could vote on them like a question of the day? To get started it might be a good idea to let Rich (or people Rich trusts) pick the first couple books to get us started. After that maybe we could let some of the policy makes suggest books. What would the speaker propose? That would be fun.

  46. - VanillaMan - Thursday, Jul 10, 14 @ 3:13 pm:

    I am concerned that if I read the books a lot of guys here read, I’ll start thinking like them.

  47. - Former State Employee - Thursday, Jul 10, 14 @ 3:14 pm:

    Norseman: Don’t exclude Illinois-centric fiction (David Ellis comes to mind)

  48. - Joan P. - Thursday, Jul 10, 14 @ 3:16 pm:

    Author post, etc. is a nice thought, but assumes that all books chosen would have a living author. It woudn’t hurt, for instance, to read Harry Barnard’s Eagle Forgotten, so we could remember the days when Illinois had a governor of whom we could be proud.

    Easiest would be for Rich to select the book, but he could always take suggestions from the participants.

    I have to say that I don’t know if I would do this myself. I tend to have stacks of books to read and not enough time in which to read them, so being required to read on a set schedule is not really my cup of tea. But I could be enticed if I were interested in the chosen tome.

  49. - Tom Joad - Thursday, Jul 10, 14 @ 3:20 pm:

    Local non-fiction books are usually boring and not very well written. I have several on my book shelves unread. I voted no.

  50. - Shark Sandwich - Thursday, Jul 10, 14 @ 3:36 pm:

    Start out with an open thread for a Cap Fax Reading List. Like the Golden Horseshoes, you have to nominate a book and give really good reasons why it’s important and why it is interesting and relevant to Illinois politics. Plus pros/cons.
    The reading list could be made into a static page on the site. Then monthly votes could be held on the new book for ‘book club’.

  51. - steve schnorf - Thursday, Jul 10, 14 @ 3:43 pm:

    FSE, yep, like James Jones. And we should all have read Paul Angle, though I doubt we will get any comments from him

  52. - Cheryl44 - Thursday, Jul 10, 14 @ 3:52 pm:

    A decent wikihow on setting up a cyber book club:

  53. - The Prince - Thursday, Jul 10, 14 @ 4:31 pm:

    The most important book in Illinois is published by Jesse White. It’s called the Rules of the Road, not Suggestions of the Road.

  54. - Precinct Captain - Thursday, Jul 10, 14 @ 4:43 pm:

    ==I am concerned that if I read the books a lot of guys here read, I’ll start thinking like them.==

    So what you are saying is you can’t engage with or critically analyze information that contrary from your already views?

  55. - Redux - Thursday, Jul 10, 14 @ 5:44 pm:

    A book club would be great, but it’s only going to work if people read the book. I would suggest soliciting suggestions, narrowing to top three and ask people to vote. If that’s too much trouble, maybe pick from the top suggestions yourself. Or you make several suggestions and let the peanut gallery decide. I also think 1 every two months would work, give people six weeks to read the book, and two weeks to discuss and pick the next book. That would be six books a year, which might be too much for some people.
    Here’s my first suggestion. Novel, but Illinois-centric and fun.

  56. - vibes - Thursday, Jul 10, 14 @ 5:46 pm:

    I’m w/ Sarge on most points, but I’d let key commenters (OW, YD, WS, rnug),pick a book every few months. Schnorf gets just one per administration.

  57. - Wensicia - Thursday, Jul 10, 14 @ 5:54 pm:

    No. Respectfully, I don’t think books fit with the day-to-day action of the blog.

  58. - steve schnorf - Thursday, Jul 10, 14 @ 6:43 pm:

    vibes, most of mine would be fairly old ones. I find a general absence of institutional knowledge among many on this site (and others). Knowing how and why we got here sometimes helps us better understand and therefore deal with where we are.

  59. - Mama - Thursday, Jul 10, 14 @ 6:51 pm:

    I say No due to lack of time. I already have a ton of books I need to read. I enjoy reading but I do not need any more books added to my list. I think the book club is a great idea, and the discussions with your group will be interesting. Will you have time for your book club during sessions?

  60. - The Prince - Thursday, Jul 10, 14 @ 8:43 pm:

    Yes, books do not fit on with the “day to day” action of the blog but what is wrong with the Blogmeister suggesting a book and providing a date certain for feedback? People who have time can read it and provide same at the later time. It will be two blog posts total.

  61. - Pete - Thursday, Jul 10, 14 @ 8:44 pm:

    Have to have coffee and face to face discussion about the books.

    Lincoln Library meeting one month and Harold Washington the other.

    Or could do a video feed like Skype from sites throughout the state. Could be a cool college course for poli-sci majors with remote sites popping up all over the state for video conferencing discussion.

  62. - Arthur Andersen - Thursday, Jul 10, 14 @ 8:49 pm:

    I’m in if this gets going. The cost of books can be cut substantially by using e-books. I haven’t bought a hardback in 3 years.
    I think we should stick to non-fiction and politics/government focused, although I love me some David Ellis. His latest book with Patterson is outstanding. Agree with Schnorf that we should work in some books “to develop institutional knowledge” in his words.
    If Rich doesn’t want to play Oprah, perhaps he could select a committee of well-read scholarly commenters (there went OW and AA) to pick the books.
    Then the interested readers read the books, have a day for “reviews” and a day for discussing the books. Maybe the well-heeled members would kick in a gift certificate for “review of the month.”

  63. - Publius - Thursday, Jul 10, 14 @ 9:59 pm:

    I think you should invite a different commentator to write a review of a book of their choice each month. Then if it sounds good each of us can choose to read it or not.

    Frankly I am not interested in interaction or the opinions of others, just looking for guidance on good books centered on Illinois, or on politics..

    These days I do all may reading on Kindle editions from Amazon which I read on an I- Pad.

  64. - Large Mammal - Thursday, Jul 10, 14 @ 10:29 pm:

    I’d say Rich or somebody needs to play Oprah, but that could rotate. I don’t think the how matters so much as long as it gets everybody out of their comfort zone a little. I don’t think it needs to be limited to non-fiction. I agree with Soccer Mom that it should not be limited to new books, either. It probably won’t take off, but who knows? Worth a try.

  65. - Just The Way It Is One - Thursday, Jul 10, 14 @ 11:18 pm:

    Sorry to the 2/3ds in favor but I just wish to add that posting Comments on Cap Fax, and reading the Posts and others’ comments is a blast and often insightful, but, my humble opinion is to NOT push a great thing once you’ve got it going–i.e. this Blog and how it’s run now–too far…put differently, the old adage might apply as to “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it…!”

    But if the BlogMaster chooses to go with it, it IS YOUR Blog after all, which makes Rich the KING in these instances…!

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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