Book Menage

Book Menage!

Well, it's been ages. Is anyone up for another Book Menage*?

For those of you who have never joined us, our Book Menages are where we pick two books and then discuss them in the comments over the course of a week (2 books + 1 reader=Book Menage!). Everybody who participates is entered in the drawing to win the two books for the next Menage absolutely free! (You don't see this part, but my lovely assistant Mr. CR draws the winning name out of a hat. It's very glamorous.)

Because I'm feeling bossy lately, I'm going to go ahead and pick the two books; next time we'll return to doing things more democratically where we discuss and vote on which books to read. But now? The books:

The Birth of Love, a novel by Joanna Kavenna; and

The Doctors' Plague: Germs, Childbed Fever, and the Strange Story of Ignac Semmelweis, by Sherwin Nuland.

Yes, they're both books about childbirth. This is what you get for letting the woman who had a baby a few months ago pick the books. I'll contact the winner of these two books, and what do you think we should do for schedule? Start discussing them toward the end of May, the week of May 23?

*My gosh, it's been a YEAR since we did a Book Menage. High time we got back to it!

Book Menage Day 5: The Wrap-up.

Well, and here it is Friday already. Don't you sometimes wish we could all get together after these Menages, and have some afternoon coffee and cake, and REALLY get into discussing these books? I do. I'm trying to tell myself that's what retirement's going to be like--I don't care how poor I am, when I am old I am instituting an afternoon coffee or tea and cake ritual.

But until such time as my cake or retirement dreams come true, I must say this has been a bang-up Menage. Thank you once again to everyone who participated; your comments, of course, are what make the Menages so fun. Anyone got any ideas for the next one?

Just the one question today, and it's another one you know I like to ask:

1. If you could ask these authors one question about their books, what would you ask?

If and when I get my laptop back from the laptop sleep-away camp that is the repair shop, I will try to contact these authors with some of our questions and see if we can get any replies. Until then, please think good thoughts for my poor beleagured laptop; I know it's small potatoes on the scale of problems but man, it's disruptive (and don't forget expensive) to have your computer gone.

Book Menage Day 4: All together now.

And here we are already at day 4 of what has been, if I may say so myself, a very congenial Travel Book Menage. For these last two days of the week we'll just consider a few last questions and do a brief wrap-up. And please do forgive me for not adding pictures or links (to Horwitz's Blue Latitudes or Bryson's In a Sunburned Country) to this post; that information can all be found on previous menage day postings (and I'm getting increasingly lazy as Friday approaches).

So you know at least one of the questions I have to ask:

1. Which book did you like better? Why? Did you dislike either of the books? Why?

And number 2 is related, sort of:

2. Will you read any other books by these authors?

Number 3 is a bit of a broader question, if you're feeling philosophical today.

3. What do you think is the overall "appeal" of travel books for readers?

Travel Book Menage Day 3: Exclusively Bryson.

Hi! And welcome to Day 3 of our Travel Book Menage. Yesterday we looked exclusively at the Horwitz title, so today we'll consider Bill Bryson's In a Sunburned Country before we consider the two together again for the rest of the week.

I must say, I really enjoyed the Bryson in a way that I didn't enjoy the Horwitz. I suspect I was just in the mood for something a little lighter while I read the two of them, and the Bryson book better fit that bill. A good reminder that, as always, mood sometimes plays a greater role in reading choice and enjoyment than we realize.

But I digress. Today's questions:

1. What was your favorite part (or region) of this book, or least favorite? Did any of Bryson's stories stand out in particular to you?

2. What do you think makes Bryson so popular as a travel writer?

3. Did you read an edition of this book with or without the appendix of Bryson's articles on the Sydney Olympics? Did you read the appendix, and what did you think about its inclusion?

As always, please feel free to pose questions of your own in the comments.

Travel Book Menage Day 2: Exclusively Horwitz.

And welcome to Day 2 of our Travel Book Menage! Yesterday started off with a bang, with great comments and discussion, so thank you for all of that.

Blue As per usual, I thought we could take a day discussing each of these books separately. Today's book is Tony Horiwtiz's Blue Latitudes: Boldly Going Where Captain Cook Has Gone Before. My questions are below; as always, answer as few or as many as you'd like, or feel free to ask some new questions of your own!

1. If you had to classify this book in one nonfiction "genre," what genre would you pick? Or what new genre would you make up for it?

2. Which geographic area/segment of the book did you most enjoy? Least enjoy?


3. Do you think Horwitz did a good job of describing the "real" Captain Cook?

Okay, have at. And thanks again for joining in--the Menage was just what I needed this week.

Travel Book Menage: Day One!

Bryson Hi, and welcome to another edition of our Book Menage--this time, a specially themed "Travel Menage"! The two books we were reading for the week, if you'll remember, are Bill Bryson's In a Sunburned Country and Tony Horwitz's Blue Latitudes: Boldly Going Where Captain Cook Has Gone Before.

You know how this works. Each day I'll ask a couple of questions, and we'll discuss in the comments (you don't have to answer both questions if you don't want to; answering one is always fine). As always, don't be afraid to ask questions of your own--they can always be incorporated into the next day's discussion. Please do remember to invite your friends--everyone who participates in the comments has their names entered into a drawing to win the two books of the next Menage absolutely free!

So, for today:

1. Which of these two books did you read first, and why?


2. Are you less interested or more interested in Australia and/or the South Pacific than you were before you read these books?

Menage reminder.

Not much to report today, other than a reminder that our next Book Menage, in which we will read Tony Horwitz's Blue Latitudes: Boldly Going Where Captain Cook Has Gone Before and Bill Bryson's In a Sunburned Country, starts next Monday, April 5. Is everyone ready? We'll discuss the two books all next week!

In other reading news I picked up Shirley Jackson's horror classic We Have Always Lived in the Castle over the weekend, and am very much looking forward to it. Thanks again to everyone who submitted horror suggestions last week--I plan to refer to that list for my horror reading for a long time to come!

Book Menage Travel Edition: It's a go!

Sunburned Okay! The votes are in, and the two books for our next Menage discussion are going to be:

1. Tony Horwitz's Blue Latitudes: Boldly Going where Captain Cook Has Gone Before;


2. Bill Bryson's In a Sunburned Country.

Thanks to everyone who voted, and I'll be contacting the winner of the two books (drawn from among the participants of the last Menage) a bit later. Why don't we be optimistic and plan to start the discussion on Monday, April 5? Please do invite your friends or consider posting a link to this page on your blogs--the more the merrier!

In other news this morning I'm very excited to have my article about the Best Business Books of 2009 posted at the Library Journal BookSmack! page. (The print article will appear in the March 15 edition of Library Journal.) We had a little more fun with the list this time around--the titles at the end of the article were particularly fun to write up. Please do check it out; it was a rather lively round of business books this year. Of course, most of them were about the continuing financial crisis, and so were depressing as hell, but they were interesting.

Book Menage: Travel Edition.

First off, let me apologize for the sporadic posting this week. What with one thing and another, it's just been one of those weeks. Nothing's wrong, I'm just, for lack of a better word, dull. I'm not very exciting on the best of days, so be assured when I say dull I mean DULL. But then I thought, what better way to get un-dull than to set a new Book Menage* rolling?

After we discussed a new Menage last time, many of the comments (and thank you for those) seemed to be in favor of a Travel theme, which I thought was a great idea, since I don't read a ton of travel on my own, but I often do like what I read. So here's where I need your help once more. I think our books will be:

Latitudes 1. Tony Horwitz's Blue Latitudes: Boldly Going Where Captain Cook Has Gone Before; and either

2. Bill Bryson's In a Sunburned Country (which is kind of related to the above, as Cook explored Australia and this book is about Australia); or

2. Bill Bryson's I'm a Stranger Here Myself: Notes on Returning to America After Twenty Years Away (which I'm only listing because I kind of want to read it).

So! If you'll kindly vote in the comments for your choice between the Bryson books (voting will be open between now and Monday), I'll announce the winners next Monday, get in touch with the reader from the last Menage who has won personal copies of the two books, and we'll be on our way!

I'm eager to start, but will about four weeks be enough? Then we could start the Monday after Easter, April 5th (although if you feel strongly about it, mention that in the comments too and we could always go with Monday April 12th instead). I can't wait!

*If anyone out there is new to Citizen Reader, our Book Menages are where we read two books and then discuss them over the course of a week in our comments. (Two books + 1 reader = a very kinky and very right book discussion.)

Up for another Book Menage?

I'm in the middle of a few books right now, so as I was reading this morning, I thought, hm, what should I post about today? And then I got thinking about having another Book Menage.

I can illustrate exactly how that came about: I'm reading a book called Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture, which I am finding interesting. So this morning I looked at it, and thought, "it's good, but it's not rocking my world like John Bowe's Nobodies did." Then of course I started thinking about the Book Menage* where we discussed Nobodies: Modern American Slave Labor and the Dark Side of the Global Economy.** Which got me thinking about the Menage, and how I often suggest books I've already read and loved and want to re-read. But this time around, I thought, I don't particularly have any books or subjects which I need to suggest. That's new.

Which throws the gates open: Do you have any subjects or titles you'd like to tackle for our next Menage, which we could set up within the next month or so? Let me know in the comments, and we'll see what we can put together.

In other news, my friend Sarah Nagle has had a spectacular article on collection development (which is really more interesting than it sounds--it's the job whereby librarians and library staff build and maintain their collections of books) in the latest issue of RA News. Do check it out, and nicely done, Sarah!

*For any readers new to Citizen Reader, our Book Menages are where we pick two books, usually nonfiction but sometimes one nonfiction and one fiction, and discuss them singly and in relation to each other in the blog comments over the course of a week. We call it the Menage because it's 1 reader + 2 books; get it? Kinky!

**Which, frankly, I think was my choice for Best Book of the Decade. In terms of sheer new thoughts and insight gained, nothing in the past few years has hit me as hard or stayed with me as long as that book has.

Stacy Horn: Class Act.

Today I'd like to share with you the answers I received back to a few of our questions from Stacy Horn, the author of The Restless Sleep: Inside New York City's Cold Case Squad (as well as the books Waiting for My Cats to Die: A Morbid Memoirand Unbelievable: Investigations Into Ghosts, Poltergeists, Telepathy, and Other Unseen Phenomena from the Duke Parapsychology Laboratory.) Stacy has multiple websites, including the official site for The Restless Sleep and her personal blog. She also notes that she is still in contact with Detective Wendell Stradford, one of the police officers profiled in her book, and has offered to pass along any further questions about his cases or his work to him. I would like to thank Stacy for her answers, and her (and Det. Stradford's) willingness to continue these conversations.

Stacy was very complete in her answers (thank you, Stacy!) so I'm going to let this post ride for a couple of days; don't feel you have to read it all at once.

Question: About how long did it take you to research and write the book, from your idea to completion? Can you provide any insight on why the people you interviewed (both detectives and victims' family members) consented to speak with you?

SH: It took me three years to research and write The Restless Sleep. A few of the cops liked me immediately, but most of them didn't trust me at first and some actively disliked me. Not because of me, but because I represented pretty much everything they hate and distrust, which boils down to: I was from the "media" and I'm a liberal. It really was hard to approach these guys at times, because some of them were so actively hostile. There are some angry people in the police department. This one guy really high up, who was in a position to make my life miserable at times, would do just that. I finally asked him why he was being such a... well, dick. And he answered proudly, "Because I can." You should have seen his face. He was a hero in his own eyes.

However, with few exceptions, most got to like me as they got to know me. I talked to most of the cold case detectives and Wendell, Steve and Tom were the ones who impressed me. Which is not to say there weren't other great detectives in the squad (and some terrible ones), but these three each had an interesting history, interesting or moving cases, and I felt they could represent the squad as a whole. I also just liked them, and knowing I was going to be spending a couple of years with whoever I ended up working with I wanted it to be with guys I liked. There was one more detective  wanted to include, a guy in the Bronx named Mark Tebbins. But someone else was working on a book that would include him so I thought that would be overkill. But he is also a great detective.

I really adore these guys and we're all still friends today.  In fact, I just came back from breakfast with two of them.  I asked Wendell if he would answer questions if you guys had any and he said yes!

The families agreed to talk to me because they hoped that something I did would lead to solving their loved one's murder. Talking to them was really really hard. I don't know how the detectives do it. But even harder was writing about their murdered loved one. I felt an enormous responsibility there. Think about it. Someone has been murdered. Now you have to tell their story knowing that the people who loved them most and suffer their loss every day are going to read every word you write. 

I specifically inserted something I had learned from the book "How We Die," for Christine Diefenbach's father, knowing he was going to read it. I thought it might provide him with just a tiny measure of comfort, to know that his daughter probably did not suffer how he imagined she did.
I felt this responsibility about everyone, though. The detectives have families and friends too, who will be reading what I write about them. I had to get it right, to tell the truth with as much compassion and insight as I could summon.

To this day, because of my blog, I still regularly hear from family members who ask for help. And from family members of the murderers and the people who helped the murderers. (So not fun.) It's not easy. 

Question: How did you choose the five cases on which you focused?

SH: I chose the cases I did because I thought between them they'd give a good overview of the kind of work they do. Really old cases, not so old cases, sympathetic victims and less sympathetic victims, mob cases. What's impossible to convey is how many cases they're actively working on. I say the numbers, but unless you witness it, it's hard to imagine. It's insane.

For instance, I had a really hard time keeping all the cases I was writing about straight, who was who, what happened when. I finally literally drew charts and diagrams and timelines and kept them up in front of me the whole time while I was writing. Not a day went by where I didn't think about the fact that I was struggling to follow four cases and each of the detectives were at all times following around 20. Blows my mind still. And they can't walk around with charts and graphs.

Question: How did you decide upon the organization of your book, and was there a reason you chose to divide it by case details and investigations, rather than following a more linear timeline?

SH: I guess I have to accept that the organization wasn't a complete success! But it was extremely carefully purposefully done. The first section was about introducing the history of the squad and the cases. The second section was about the investigations, and the last section was about how everything ended up. Or didn't. I wish I had explained that more and did more hand holding about what was going on. Live and learn.

But I took those charts and timelines and worked and re-worked how to tell the story. I ended up taking a lot out just because there were hundreds of people and thousands of man hours and you saw that it was hard enough following what I left in, never mind all the people and time it took to accomplish what they accomplished. It was a hugh challenge, HUGE. And I guess it wasn't a 100% success. You can't get a home run every time you get up to bat.  But I couldn't have worked harder trying to get it right.

So you've got a great detective who is will to talk to you!  If you have any questions for Det. Wendell Stradford, I will pass them on to him!  For instance, I asked him why he talked to me when so many didn't trust me in the beginning.  And he said it was because I was completely honest about who I was.  Every cop would immediately grill me about myself and I always answered honestly.  "Yes, I'm a liberal.  I'm not just a liberal I am rabid liberal.  I'm as left as you can go."  Etc.  He said because I always told the truth he felt he could trust me.  I wasn't sneaky or cagey.

Rick Geary: Class Act.

Last week during our Book Menage I took the liberty of sending a few of our questions to Rick Geary, and what you see below are those questions and Mr. Geary's answers. I would like to thank him for responding to our questions so openly and promptly! I also promised to provide links to his web site and to several of his books, which are listed at the bottom of this post.

Question: Is there an actual "memoir" on which your  book is based? Is it possible for regular readers to access that document in any way?

RG: The "memoir" does not exist, but is merely a fictional framework for presenting the material (as one of your readers suggested*).  I used this method previously in my volume about Jack the Ripper, which is told in the form of a journal by an unnamed English gentleman.  My desire was to make the story more personal and immediate, but my publisher informed me that the approach presented a problem in bookstore placement by falling into a crack between fiction and non- fiction.  The subsequent books in the series have been told from a more objective journalistic point-of-view.

Question: You may not want to give an opinion, but after all your research, do you have a feel for whether or not Lizzie Borden was guilty or not guilty of these crimes?

RG: In treating unsolved cases, or those with a bit of mystery still surrounding them, I'm careful not to offer any personal speculation, but try to give equal weight to all the theories in circulation, no matter how crackpot.  As for Lizzie, all I'll say is that the dynamics within the family certainly point to her having done it, although from a legal standpoint, there is no direct evidence against her.  For me it remains a tantalizing mystery, and I'm happy with that.

So there you have it. Thanks again to Rick Geary! He is the author of numerous graphic novels, including Famous Players: The Mysterious Death of William Desmond Taylor, The Beast of Chicago, The Saga of the Bloody Benders, The Mystery of Mary Rogers, The Murder of Abraham Lincoln, Jack the Ripper, The Lindbergh Child, and Trotsky: A Graphic Biography (along with many others).

*Good call on that one, Jessica! I must confess it never even ocurred to me that there WAS no such memoir. I'll never understand my own personal combination of total cynicism and total gullibility.

Book Menage: Free for all.

Good morning!

Well, might I just say that this has been a wonderful discussion. I want to thank you all for making it possible for me to fulfill my jones to talk books without even having to leave the house. I'm not traditionally a real big fan of leaving the house, so I appreciate it.

No more questions from me today. Rather, I just wanted to invite you to read the comments from the previous days, or to discuss any aspects of Rick Geary's The Borden Tragedy or Stacy Horn's The Restless Sleep that you think we've missed, or that you would simply like to talk about. I like a good free for all.

I also am very excited to promise that next week Monday and Tuesday I will post the answers I received back from both authors in response to some of our questions. You'll read about it more next week, but Stacy Horn also noted that she is still in contact with Detective Wendell Stradford (he of the Leon-Martinez double homicide case), and if readers had any questions for him about the case or his work in general, he would be happy to answer them through her (which I think is an unbelievably generous offer--please post any questions for him in the comments or send them to me at [email protected]). So tune in next week for Book Menage: The Authors Reply!, and have a great weekend, all.

Book Menage Day 4: The Wrap-up.

Welcome to Day 4 of our Book Menage! I just want to take a moment and thank everyone who has popped into the comments so far; I have found this to be a particularly fascinating discussion and I'm rather glad we went with the true crime subject matter, even though they're not typically easy books to read.

I think we've already covered a lot of ground, so a few easy questions today.

1. What were your favorite and least favorite parts of each of these books? Would you suggest either to other readers, and if so, why?

2. Do you think you'll ever read another true crime book, ever again?

Sleep  3. You know that I always have to ask about covers. How did you feel about the covers of these books? (The Horn book has different covers in hardcover and paperback; the paperback cover is the one I've posted before--look below and you'll find it and the Geary cover--and I'll post the hardcover jacket with this post.

I have emailed some of our questions to both of the authors, but it's a hard time to be making a living as a writer (or artist) so I'm not sure either one will have time to answer. Please do check back, though; if they reply I'll post their answers here.

Book Menage Day 3: Exclusively Horn.

And welcome to Day 3 of the Book Menage! Today, if you're up for it, I'd love to talk exclusively about Stacy Horn's true crime book The Restless Sleep: Inside New York City's Cold Case Squad. My questions for you are below; as always, feel free to answer one, some, or all.

1. I'm getting the feeling several readers didn't much care for the structure of Horn's book. How would you have preferred to see it organized or written? Likewise, if you liked the structure of the book, why did you like it?

2. Same question as I had for the Geary: If you could ask Stacy Horn a question/s about this book or the writing of it, what would you ask?

3. I'll admit it: I loved this book, and found it very "re-readable." Do you find that surprising, for a true crime book? What makes a book (particularly nonfiction) "re-readable"?

Okay, have at. And, happy Wednesday. Is it really Wednesday already? Book Menage weeks always fly by so fast.

Update: Please also consider visiting Stacy Horn's web site dedicated to The Restless Sleep; it's interesting and I'm sorry I didn't post it sooner.

Book Menage Day 2: Exclusively Geary.

Welcome to Day 2 of the True Crime Book Menage! Today I'd like to focus specifically on the Rick Geary book The Borden Tragedy.* The questions I have for you today are:

1. How do you feel about reading true crime, or really any nonfiction, in graphic novel format?

2. Did you read the newspaper articles at the end of the book too, or not? If not, why not? If so, did they add to your enjoyment of the book?

3. What questions would you have for Rick Geary after reading this book?

Don't feel like you have to answer each question if you don't want to. These are just my three biggest questions about the Geary book. As previously noted: please feel free to pose and answer your own questions in the comments. I love it when people take the comment discussions in different directions.

*Please note: if you read different titles by Geary, please feel free to answer these questions anyway--I think they're still pretty applicable.

Book Menage Day 1: Stacy Horn and Rick Geary

Welcome to Day 1 of our Rick Geary (The Borden Tragedy) and Stacy Horn (The Restless Sleep: Inside New York City's Cold Case Squad) Book Menage! Thanks for popping in; and here's hoping everyone had a good Thanksgiving.*

Restless I have been sitting here and looking at these books for some time today, wondering where to start. What to ask is not really the problem; I have a whole list of questions. When to ask what, is more what I'm struggling with.

So: there's nothing else for it but to start, and leave organization to work itself out. (This is the principle I follow for pretty much everything else in my life, which sometimes made it hard to be a librarian, and around other people for whom organization IS life.) In short, here's the two questions I most want to know about today. As per usual, please do provide your answers to both or either (or ask new questions of your own) of the questions in the comments. I used to jump in first, but now I wait a bit, because I don't want to unduly "steer" the conversation.** I won't be able to not answer, mind you; I just would love it if someone else went first!

Borden 1. Did any lines/stories/anecdotes/pictures in either of these books stand out to you (in short: what bits were most memorable?) and if so, why?

2. Were either of these the first "true crime" books you've ever read? If so, what did you think about reading on this subject? If not, what did you think about either or both of these books as examples of the "true crime" nonfiction genre?

Let the Menage begin!

*And that no one had to get up and shop at 4 a.m. on Friday, which always seems like a retail environment that must closely resemble at least one level of Dante's hell, if not all of them rolled together.

**I'm not usually much of a forceful personality but I can be a bit overbearing when it comes to books.

Oh, stop acting like you're working.

I'll admit it. Days before holidays are not high productivity days for me. (Are they for anybody?) All I really feel like doing today is waiting for tomorrow, when I get to sit around and eat turkey. I like turkey, and we're not having company, so I don't even have to clean my house, which is all it takes to make it a successful holiday in my book.

So, not much today, but I did want to mention that I got an email from a polite person named Willy Blackmore yesterday, about a new short film based on a Tom Drury story. Remember Tom Drury? I read his book The Driftless Area, and loved it, back in June. (I got some great comments on that post, too--someone suggested I read his book The End of Vandalism, which I never did, so I've got to get on that.) Anyway, the point of this anecdote is that, if you want to see a short film (titled "Path Lights") based on a short story by Drury, visit the David Lynch Foundation web site at Evidently you can watch the film there, for free, during the week of December 2nd through the 9th. I know I try not to advertise stuff here, but I'm happy that other people out there like Tom Drury. And, also, I just like the name "Willy Blackmore." Doesn't it seem like the perfect name for a character in a short story? But I digress.

Oh, and one last reminder: Our Book Menage starts next Monday, and we'll discuss the books The Restless Sleep: inside New York City's Cold Case Squad (by Stacy Horn) and The Borden Tragedy (by Rick Geary). Invite a friend and come ready to chat; all participants in the comments will have their names entered in a drawing* to win the books for the next Menage FREE! Also: we'll do the Menage the entire week, and have different questions about the books each day. (That seemed to work pretty well last time.) There's no rule saying I'm the only one who can ask the questions; if you've got questions about these books that you want to pose to the other participants, please do share them in the comments today or send them in an email to me at [email protected].

Now get out there and put extra Cool Whip on your pumpkin pie.

Reading doldrums.

I am once again in the reading doldrums, where I've got a few books going but nothing is really lighting my fire, which makes me not feel like reading at all. (Always a very strange sensation.) Mr. CR blames the selection of books I currently have home from the library--"you have crappy stuff home right now," he noted the other day, with all the nuance of a true critic--but I think the reading doldrums are just something you go through every now and then no matter how many great books you have access to.

So, nothing to report today, which makes it as good a day as any to remind everyone of our upcoming Book Menage discussion, featuring Stacy Horn's true crime nonfiction The Restless Sleep, and Rick Geary's true crime graphic novel The Borden Tragedy. Our discussion will start on Monday, November 30, which is getting much closer than one might think. Remember: Anyone who participates is entered in the drawing to win the two books for the next Menage, so invite your friends, and we'll party this puppy up proper.*

*I have no idea what that means. I just like alliteration.

Book Menage: True Crime

I didn't hear too many dissenting comments, so I'm assuming everyone's still amenable to a Book Menage discussion of Stacy Horn's The Restless Sleep: Inside New York City's Cold Case Squad, paired with a Rick Geary graphic novel of historic true crime? I think the one I'd like to suggest is Geary's The Borden Tragedy.

So, please do read these two books, and feel free to email any questions you'd like to discuss during the Menage to me at [email protected]. We'll start the discussion on Monday, November 30, and continue it during that week. Remember, anyone who comments during the Menage is automatically entered into a drawing to win the two books of the next Menage, so invite your friends; the more the merrier!