Emma Watson’s new feminist book club and the promise of mega-book-clubs in public digital spaces

Emma Watson is running a feminist book club on goodreads that has received quite a lot of publicity. This is interesting on several levels. First, on a meta level, Emma Watson seems to have picked up the whole celebrity-leading-book-club concept that Oprah seems to have initiated but she is taking it to mostly digital spaces. (Is Oprah still book clubbing???). It’s so powerful when a celebrity endorses a book and reading in general. There’s that. Then, there’s the fact that this is happening in an entirely digital space and an interactive Web 2.0 space. The club is hosted on the free space goodreads and also Twitter and then it ripples out onto the broader web via news stories and bloggers that are “covering” it. I think I will lurk on the goodreads book club but I think this is fascinating when one takes a step back and look at it through a meta-lens. The generation by many readers of book lists is also interesting as instances of intertextuality.

I am most interested in the other recommended texts that are being generated (which go beyond an icon like Gloria Steinem) to see more diverse perspectives. The goodreads book club is here in case anyone else is interested in following along: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/179584-our-shared-shelf

It’s almost like a “mega” digital book club that takes on *some* aspects of MOOCs [massive open online courses\  such as size, digital learning, and informal learning. It would be a very interesting essay to examine and contrast the ways that celebrity-endorsed book clubs take shape and what they contribute to literacy in public digital spaces. Of course, the popularity of anything that is endorsed by a celebrity is always concerning. Why does it take celebrity status to make anything popular? What if people follow blindly in sycophantic ways? I think these are always concerning, but in the meantime, the digital book club space is promising if participants are thinking critically. Just as MOOCs have the potential

Is anyone else on goodreads? Is anyone in this book club? What are your thoughts on [feminist]-mega-book-clubs in digital public spaces? I think the dialogue opportunities in this space and the generative and democratic nature of “adding to” the book club is promising. I just hope it is not invaded by trolls.

-Peggy

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