“For most people, what is so painful about reading is that you read something and you don’t have anybody to share it with. In part what the book club opens up is that people can read a book and then have someone else to talk about it with. Then they see that a book can lead to the pleasure of conversation, that the solitary act of reading can actually be a part of the path to communion and community.” – bel hooks
Although many readers regard reading as a decidedly solitary activity and cherish their time alone with their books, others have found joining a local reading group also enjoyable.
And although most reading groups are decidedly local affairs, the Internet spawned more than a few online reading groups, where people who might not ever meet each other face-to-face can enthuse over books that widely separated members are reading simultaneously.
Fast forward to late 2008, when FaceBook – one of the largest and fastest-growing networks of Internet users on the planet – partnered with an independently-owned San Francisco-based firm to create FB’s Book Club feature.
Over 6,000 FB members have signed up since then – some to discuss books online, others just to harvest popular or enthusiastically-recommended titles. We don’t know for sure, but we guess the number of people participating in FB’s Book Club probably dwarfs the aggregate number of people participating in other online platforms dedicated to discussing books.
To find out more about FB’s reading group feature, you might want to first read this press release. Then, if you’re a FB member, search the network for the Book Club feature (an “application” in FB lingo).
And let us know how any experiment you do with FB’s Book Club goes!
The New Yorker’s May 25th issue includes Ann Hodgman’s hilarious spoof of those sets of discussion questions that some of us in book groups use to foster discussion.
You can read Hodgman’s satirical essay here.
Reading would be a lot less wonderful if we couldn’t share our discoveries and discuss them with other readers. Countless readers have joined organized reading groups to exploit this persistent urge to share with others our reading enthusiams.
Earlier this month, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution published a story about one such local group, distinctive because it’s been in existence for over a century now. Read the story.
Contributed by Ponce staffer Leticia Stinson