Goodbye, Book Clubs: Book Lovers Unite on Social Media
If you’re an avid reader, you probably already use devices like Amazon’s Kindle or Apple’s iPad for flipping through those page-turners, but you may not be familiar with other aspects of the internet that can change the way you experience books. Self publishing, personalised children’s books and social media are changing the technological landscape for avid readers. Social media readings sites that give readers an opportunity to meet and discuss what they are reading virtually. Slowly, these social media networks are replacing your traditional book clubs, and that may be for the best.
Everyone knows the problem with traditional book clubs: frequently, they are more of an excuse for people to get together and drink wine (which can be great), but if you are a reader who is looking for a great discussion of what you’re reading, traditional book clubs may be leaving something to be desired. If that’s the case, say goodbye to book clubs. There’s a better way to connect and discuss your favorite books with likeminded people.
Since it was founded in 2007, Goodreads has been a popular choice for book lovers looking for a social network for sharing what you’re reading. Since Amazon purchased Goodreads in 2013, however, people have been cautious of the site, but it’s still very popular.
Goodreads gives you the option to link your Goodreads account with various other social media accounts like Facebook and Twitter, helping you connect with your Facebook friends and Twitter followers. You can see what books they’ve read and what they recommend, giving you a book club-like experience, but it’s nonlinear, meaning that you and your friends don’t have to read the same books at the same time; you can interact with them whenever you finish the book. While this takes some of the community aspect out of the book club experience, for busy people who can’t devote time to a traditional book club every week or two, Goodreads offers a good alternative.
Oprah’s Book Club
But there are other ways to use Goodreads as well. For example, Oprah’s Book Club, a cultural touchstone (and punchline), is on Goodreads, and if you’re interested in interested in the book club, it’s a great place for lively discussion of Oprah’s picks. Oprah’s Book Club is an open group, so anyone with a Goodreads account (free) can join.
In addition to Oprah’s picks, the community creates threads to discuss books they’re reading. It gives Oprah’s Book Club members an opportunity to talk to one another and be introduced to new books.
While it’s not necessarily a digital book club, Twitter gives you unprecedented access to some of your favorite writers. When your kid isn’t busy making personalised children’s books, he or she can actually tweet at J.K. Rowling!
This is a tremendous advantage for reading, enjoying and experiencing contemporary books. Instead of wondering what the writer was thinking when he or she killed your favorite character off in the third chapter, you can ask him or her! Tweeting directly at a writer is definitely a step up from writing fan mail and sending in the old fashioned way; writers can read and (sometimes) respond to you directly. (Some writers have even been known to Skype or FaceTime with book clubs and literature courses that are using one of their books.)
Writers like Rowling, Neil Gaiman, Margaret Atwood and Salman Rushdie have active Twitter accounts.
It’s probably not surprising that you can use Reddit for a book club; the social media site is a great place to meet and discuss, well, anything. The subreddit r/bookclub features threads about book suggestions, a monthly reading club and various discussions about books. In comparison to other subreddits, r/bookclub has a welcoming vibe, making it a stripped down but viable alternative to other book club social media sites. Some of the subreddit’s threads are also linked to Facebook events, making it easy to keep up with one another and keep on schedule.
For October, the reading club plans to read a few ghost stories for Halloween, including Kipling, Poe, Blackwood and M.R. James. Join in and keep up with the reading list for Halloween!
If you’ve ever looked at Twitter’s trending topics on Fridays, you may have noticed the popular #FridayReads hashtag. The hashtag is ran by @thebookmaven, and while some have mixed feelings about the fact that the movement is actually a business endeavor, it is a popular source for bite-sized discussions about books.
If you’re getting tired of your traditional book club, it’s time to take your reading to the next level, and using some of the great services listed here will give you an alternative to your boring book club, and it may even introduce you to a few books that you’ve never considered reading before! The internet is giving us tremendous access to authors and their works in ways that we’ve never had before, so whether you’re making personalised children’s books or sending Rushdie a tweet, you’re using the power of the internet and social media to connect you to others in ways that were never possible before. Goodbye, book clubs!
Writer. Editor. Teacher. Thinker. Follow Justin on Twitter @jstnmm.