“We read to know we are not alone.”
“Looking for a fun and carefree way to sharpen your brain, build relationships, and boost your health? Start a book club.” This line from a brief magazine story started me thinking about “social reading” — a new buzz phrase that’s gaining traction.
What is social reading, you might ask? Well, whatever it is, it’s hot enough to have merited a panel at the recent Book Expo America. One social media expert defined it as “all the ways I can talk about books, including the author-reader interactions.”
This means just about everything you can think of: book clubs, Skype chats with authors, Twitter, Tumblr, Internet radio shows. All of which add up to what some experts are calling a paradigm shift in the way we read. Just as books are now viewed as dynamic rather than static, so the act of reading is evolving as well. While reading has traditionally been seen as a solitary pursuit, that view is becoming a thing of the past. Today, reading is increasingly viewed as a social activity and a form of shared entertainment: one that brings together groups of readers as well as readers and authors, either physically or virtually.
If books and reading are changing, so too, is the way that authors are connecting with their readers. The ability for readers to interact with writers and even with written text is redefining what it means to be an author. Margaret Atwood, for example, is an avid Twitterer and has legions of devoted fans who read her Tweets to stay attuned to what she’s thinking and writing about. Social media offers writers undreamt of opportunities for sharing ideas, giving readers insight into their sources of inspiration, and building buzz for upcoming projects.
All in all, it sounds like social reading is a boon to authors. Anything that gets people excited about books — talking about them, exchanging ideas, and connecting with writers has to be a good thing. What do you think? Write on!