So I’m reading the latest NYT Book Review today, and I come across the essay by Jeff Howe called “Books with 140 Characters.” Being somewhat of a luddite when it comes to technology, I didn’t realize that I was missing the revolution in book groups.
Apparently, while I wasn’t looking, Mr. Howe, in cahoots with The Atlantic, started a Twitter book club called “1book140” that now consists of over 64,000 members.
My first reaction was one of disgust. Yes, there’s my cranky self rearing its prickly head on the wrong side of the tracks again.
And then I read further. The brainchild called “One City- One Book” was dreamed up by a Seattle librarian to give a widely diverse group of people something in common to talk about—a common bond. Something more meaningful to discuss than the weather.
Come to think of it, it’s brilliant! When we establish a common bond with a stranger, we can bridge to greater things.
It gets us talking, thinking, and sharing ideas. Social capital, as described in the essay, is “that ineffable currency measured by the trust that exists between neighbors [so important and so lacking in urban environments] or even strangers on a bus. Social capital is the WD-40 of our lives.”
So Howe decided to create the “biggest Big Read of all.” And it turns out people love it—authors, too. And as Howe says, “Maybe the book isn’t dying, after all. It’s just getting a social life.”
Up to this point, I’ve been feeding my curmudgeonly, luddite soul, staying away from Twitter, hiding under a rock. Thinking Twitter was solely a tool for narcissists. But that’s only if it’s used a certain way.
So as of today, I’m crawling out from under my rock and looking forward to starting conversations about books with thousands of people I’ve never met.
See ya round the Twitter campfire.