Reading Group: 1st Section

I think everyone has their book, or should be getting it in the next day or two, so I’d like to go ahead and start reading. I think by the Friday after next, that would be June the 8th on the Gregorian calendar, we should try to get part one of Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go completed. The novel is segmented into three parts, and part one is one hundred and eleven pages long. If anyone doesn’t hit the mark, simply let us know in the comments section, and we’ll postpone the discussion date.On June 8th, I’ll post some thoughts about section one, and then in the comments section we’ll all get into the fray. If you’ve never marked up a book in preparation for a discussion before, I’d like to encourage you to read with a pen or pencil in your hand. Underline passages that strike your fancy. Put stars next to things that make you smile. Try to write your thoughts in the margins, because I assure you, no matter how hard you try to remember something for discussion time, you’ll forget it.

In the frequently anthologized article “How to Mark a Book,” Mortimer J. Adler states:

There are two ways in which one can own a book. The first is the property right you establish by paying for it, just as you pay for clothes and furniture. But this act of purchase is only the prelude to possession. Full ownership comes only when you have made it a part of yourself, and the best way to make yourself a part of it is by writing in it. An illustration may make the point clear. You buy a beefsteak and transfer it from the butcher’s icebox to your own. But you do not own the beefsteak in the most important sense until you consume it and get it into your bloodstream. I am arguing that books, too, must be absorbed in your blood stream to do you any good.

Confusion about what it means to “own” a book leads people to a false reverence for paper, binding, and type — a respect for the physical thing — the craft of the printer rather than the genius of the author. They forget that it is possible for a man to acquire the idea, to possess the beauty, which a great book contains, without staking his claim by pasting his bookplate inside the cover. Having a fine library doesn’t prove that is owner has a mind enriched by books; it proves nothing more than that he, his father, or his wife, was rich enough to buy them.

So get readin’ my bloggery-compatriots, and in eight days we’ll come together and share our thoughts. Have fun.

Categories: Reading Group | 7 Comments

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7 thoughts on “Reading Group: 1st Section

  1. thanks for the advice. I also was taught that one should never ever write anything into a book – but M.J. Adler’s words make much more sense to me.
    I won’t be here by the 8 June, I hope that does not matter much?

  2. Tank

    I never thought I’d see the day you would suggest defacing a pristine codex. How times change.

  3. @Szelsofa
    You won’t be able to finish the reading by that time, or you won’t be able to get to the page for discussion on that day? If you can’t make it for discussion, then that’s fine. We’ll probably talk about things for several days after that date. If you think you can’t read that much in that time, then we might move the date a day or so.

    Well, I’ve found that I value my thoughts and my intellectual development more than the text. Because as Adler so rightly identified, it’s the text, and not the codex, that we should idolize. Bibliophilism becomes something like a fetish. Mark the book up and you lose that fetish, but you gain a lot more.

    Now comics? That’s a different story. General vault rules still apply. Touch not, lest ye be touched.

    And you haven’t said anything, but I assume you’re reading along? If not, I’ll send you a book, because your participation was pretty much assumed in the endeavor.

  4. I doubt I will have internet access on 8 June, plus I doubt I will be able to get as far into the book by that time ….
    If we could possibly move the discussion date at least onto 11 June that would be just fine with me.

  5. plus, I’d so love to be here when the discussion is on.

  6. Ok got book yesterday, will begin reading tomorrow. I’m fine with either 8th or 11th. Sure you don’t wanna do 11th, Mark, since you’re in the midst of moving? BTW Congrats to you and Leigh on your first house. That’s awesome! And of course congrats to Ellie as well. Bet she loves it.

  7. Oh, if the 11th is not suitable for Mark, then why not postpone it to even a later date? That’s okay with me…
    Surprisingly, my husband has begun reading it, too :))

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