Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Weekly Poll 1/27/10: Connecting with Other Readers

The question from last week was this:

What is your favorite way to connect with other readers?

  • reading group/book club
  • blogs
  • online social tools, such as Twitter or Facebook
  • other
My motivation for asking the question was that I'm realizing the importance of making reading a community event because discussions about books can help make the material more relevant to your life, spark a renewed interest in reading, and develop reading habits that span new genres or authors.

What I thought was the more traditional answer ("reading group/book club") didn't get any votes.  I have posted in the past about my problems with sharing the reading experience with others, but I did join an online book discussion, which I think is the modern equivalent to a reading group, and I enjoyed myself.  I am at least open to getting involved in more such adventures.  Now that I'm getting over my "fear" of sharing my 'joie de lire' with others, the only problem I still have with reading groups is that you have to make sure you have time to read a book on a set schedule, which is something I can't always accomplish.  I like that reading is not a scheduled event for me--I like picking up a book without knowing there's pressure to finish it by a deadline.  And yet, I think book groups are possibly the ultimate way to interact with other readers because the focused discussions with multiple inputs can help you think about the material in new and exciting ways.  I'm just not sure they're practical for all schedules...

The most popular answer was the second one: blogs.  One of my favorite things about reading blogs is that they are like mini-book clubs every day.  You can go online and read reviews of books to find something you want to read, or you can find discussions on books you've already read and join in on the fun by leaving your own comments.  Sometimes the comments section is just as exciting as the post, with whole discussions taking place among the readers of the blog.

The third selection also didn't get any votes: online social tools.  If you had asked me five months ago if I thought Twitter was a good way to connect with other readers, I would have laughed.  Now that I'm a Twitter-fanatic, though, I honestly have to say that Twitter just might be my favorite way to connect with other readers.  With Twitter, you can get a lot of contacts and meet new contacts through other contacts, all the while perusing profiles of said contacts for finding links to blogs or other online resources you might otherwise not have found.  Also, using the hashtag (#) feature makes it so you can have an organized discussion focused around a particular theme/topic with other Twitter-ers.  While I like blogs for content, I like Twitter for helping me find those blogs.  It's a cool tool to help you get to the good stuff.

One person did vote for "other."  I'm curious to hear what the "other" was--I know there are many more ways to connect with readers than I listed (which is why I included an "other" option), but I'm curious to find out if the "other" that was voted for was something I hadn't even considered.  There might be a whole new way of making connections that I never thought of and that I might consequently be missing out on...

One of my many fellow readers who inspire me to dig deeper with the content I'm reading is Julie, the writer of the Literary Jules blog.  Julie helps remind me that reading is about so much more than taking in the words on the pages in front of us--it's about experiencing new ideas or cultures or worlds and allowing ourselves to grow from those experiences.  In fact, her recent post on feeling small every time she thought about the Haiti crisis prompted my own reflection on the books I've read that have filled me with hope.  Because of that reflection, I began re-reading The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, and I'm reaping the benefits of the beautiful writing in that book all over again.

The important thing is that we, as readers, are making connections--if for no other reason than you might inspire another reader to pick up a new book.  How has connecting with other readers helped shape your own 'joie de lire'?

Happy reading and connecting!

P.S. The new poll question for the week is up in the left-hand sidebar: Are you more inclined to buy an author's book if you know that (s)he has a strong online presence and interacts with fans?  I look forward to seeing your responses!

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