Not long ago, author and book reviewer Bethanne Patrick (a.k.a. The Book Maven) started a little trend on Twitter. She dubbed it "Friday Reads," and gave it the #fridayreads hash tag.
The idea is simple: tell the world what you're reading. If you want to add a little bit about how you're liking it, that's great, but it's not necessary.
Response so far has been pretty good, but it can definitely get better! Last Friday hit a new record, with over 2,000 retweets with the #fridayreads hashtag.
Each person who uses that hashtag gets entered into a drawing, for the opportunity to win some fabulous book prizes from The Book Maven. (Review copies, usually, but publishing companies have started contacting her to offer prizes from their own stacks as well.)
But the biggest benefit to Friday Reads is that it puts reading - so often a private hobby - into the public spotlight. It allows readers to wear their books on their sleeves, so to speak. More and more I'm starting to feel like reading needs to be as public as possible, to normalize it, and hopefully encourage others to read, too.
Readers in the house, represent!
Friday Reads' free-form shape makes it easy to participate, and fascinating to watch. I set a column on my TweetDeck program to follow the #fridayreads hash tag, and I love to spend Friday watching the tweets go by.
A lot of people do simply mention the author and title, or even just the title. Some people add one or two words like "fantastic" or "loving it." And a significant percentage of people admit, sheepishly, that they haven't started their book yet, but plan to get to it over the weekend.
Every once in a while you get a great little capsule review, all the sweeter for being limited to 140 characters. @klamach says "#fridayreads A Grief Observed by CS Lewis ... I would be remiss to not suggest to read it all, slowly and thoughtfully, in one sitting." @vernonlibrary points out, "Stieg Larsson fan? Other Scandinavian crime fiction: Liza Marklund, Karin Fossum, Henning Mankell, Håkan Nesser, Kerstin Ekman #fridayreads"
Friday Reads is often described as a "Twitter book club," but this isn't quite correct, as I understand the term. I think of a book club as a group of people who are discussing a particular book. There's very little discussion on Friday Reads at this point - most of the conversation is one-sided announcements of what someone is (or sometimes isn't) reading.
Maybe we need another word to mean "book readers standing up to be counted"! As I type this, while Friday afternoon draws to a close, The Book Maven has just announced that the #fridayreads hashtag has topped 2,600 - a new record!
I suspect - hope - that Friday Reads is poised to take off in a big way. (For one thing, surely Neil Gaiman will tweet about it soon, and that will pretty much crush it. In a good way!)
And finally, Friday Reads helps to bridge that gap between high tech and low. It's okay to use Twitter and support the existence of real books. Even though some people like to pretend they're mutually exclusive!
So if you read, and you're on Twitter, you know what to do!