Every Saturday we hope to share with you our thoughts on reading and books. We thought that it would be good practice to reflect on our reading lives and our thoughts about reading in general. While on occasion, we would feature a few books in keeping with this, there would be a few posts where we will just write about our thoughts on read-alouds, libraries, reading journals, upcoming literary conferences, books that we are excited about, and just book love miscellany in general.
Building A Reading Community Online: Litsy
I know I’ve waxed lyrical about Litsy previously, but I thought it would be good to situate it against a backdrop of the significance of being a part of online reading communities.
One of the reasons why we have GatheringBooks in the first place is for us to keep track of the books that we read and to share it with the kidlitosphere, YA blogosphere, and varied online community of readers who devour books. For those who think that reading is a solitary endeavour, do think again. Bookstagrammers, book bloggers, Goodreads-users, Tumblr-crazy readers (not to mention aspiring authors and artists) are aplenty in the internet. I’ve always felt that people just naturally gravitate towards like-minded individuals, that is simply the way of the world.
For more than a year now, I’ve been an active part of Litsy. As I’ve described previously, it’s kind of like the love child of Goodreads and Instagram. While we do have a Twitter and Instagram account, I leave the managing of that to both Fats and Iphigene if they find the time – I generally find both platforms to be a little noisy for my taste. Litsy, however, is purely about books. Hence, my heart just fills up each time I see book-related posts, even if they are shared by people who are not really known to me in the physical world.
Apart from the daily photo prompts hosted by quite a number of Litsy users, what I like best about it is the opportunity for international book exchanges. I did join one last year for Halloween (see my book loot here) and made sure I joined another one early this year.
Hosted by “Jason & Jen and Aletheia” otherwise known in Litsy as @MrBook & @BookBabe and @Avanders – I signed up in the Google Form that they set up, and a few days later, I received “my match.” To make sure that this reaches “my match” before Valentine’s, I sent this around second week of January, given that this is traveling all the way to Virginia in the US. I will be sharing my CupidGoesPostal book loot by tomorrow along with my other Valentine book loot – so do watch out for that!
I also joined the #HorrorPostalBookClub beginning of this year. I’ve always been a huge fan of horror novels – some I like more than others. It is true, however, that I haven’t read much scary stuff over the past several years. However, I do have a special fondness for novels (and even picturebooks) which have a touch of grit and darkness in the narratives, fearless in its depiction of human nature, and forthright in its confrontation of shadows – yet at the same time, always reaching for light that is believed to exist despite (and maybe even because of) the overwhelming terror.
I lovelovelove the entire concept of this book club. The rules for the book club are as follows – this one organized by the amazing Toni (@Teebe in Litsy).
What I really find to be interesting here is the reading journal. I just sent out mine a few days ago, and at the time that I was drafting this post, I haven’t completed everything yet, but here is a peek at what my own journal looks like and my selected book, The Fireman by Joe Hill.
My husband also created these cute cat-bookmarks that I am sending out to fellow book club members. There are several subgroups created within #HorrorGoesPostal, and we are named #ScreamsByMail.
I really am excited to see other people’s reading journals, and I would most likely be sharing a few of my insights here as we go along. Since there are seven of us in this #ScreamsByMail book club, and we are given roughly a month to six weeks to read a book and write down our thoughts, this would most likely be finished in seven months time, thereabouts.
I have just received my first book from @Scripturient and so far I am 31% in (according to Goodreads):
Dark Matter: A Ghost Story by Michelle Paver. I like that the setting is in Norway – one of my favourite countries. Would most likely fill this journal with a few of my photos from Norway (hahaha). If things go well, I will be sending this out by first week of March.
Daily Photo Prompts
One of the first memes I joined in Litsy when I was new was the daily photo prompt hosted by a variety of people. The idea is for the Litten (what Litsy users are called) to think of a book, a character, a quote, or anything tangentially-but-still-bookish-related to the daily photo prompt. This February, I tried my best to join all five hosts as much as I could. Here they are:
I know, I know. It requires a level of commitment. But it’s also fun. This is really just the tip of the iceberg as there are so much more.
Here are some of my submissions for the daily quotes hosted by TK-421 – which I design using Typorama – admittedly, this one is my favourite, as it allows me to be a little creative:
#LitsyBuddyReads (Monthly Virtual Discussions)
While I have been seeing posts related to #LitsyBuddyReads for awhile now, this is the first time I am seriously taking part in reading the required monthly book club up for discussion. Book this February is The Women In The Castle by Jessica Shattuck, which thankfully, I have already finished reading during the first week of the month. I did an “emergency trip” to the library to ensure that I borrowed it the first weekend of February.
So there are specific sections of the book that need to be read by specific dates within each month. I realize now that I have been too over-eager during the initial discussion and shared a few of my thoughts on some of the things found in subsequent parts of the book, which apparently, is not allowed.
This is despite the fact that no actual spoilers have really been shared or anything, just dropping hints and allusions responding to other members’ queries. Now that I know, I’d have to be more careful during the discussions.
And since I already finished the book for February, I borrowed the next book for March from our library: Midnight At The Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew Sullivan.
For these multiple book club activities, I am relying on our wondrous library to tide me through, as I have placed a temporary moratorium on my personal book buying.
Reading 1001 Traveling Book Swap
I guess you could say that I do throw myself fully in everything that I do. So when I decided this year that I would be part of more reading communities, I meant it. Might as well add one more to the list, right? So this one I also discovered via Litsy. It refers to the Peter Boxall’s 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die.
Jen has been wonderful in sorting out potential participants across regions and responsible for setting up the groups. Ours is tentatively called SEAReaders – as we are all from Southeast Asia: two from Kuala Lumpur Malaysia and two from Singapore. We would most likely be doing the book swap every two months, to give ourselves a bit of a breather. Here are some of the books that I am toying around with for the swap – two of them are perfect for our current reading theme here at GatheringBooks until end of March on Contours Of Love:
David Bowie Book Club – #BowieBookClub #ReadingIsBrainFood – Facebook/Twitter
Organized by David Bowie’s filmmaker son, Duncan Jones, this is supposed to be an ode to Bowie’s much-vaunted love affair with books and reading:
I will try my best to follow throughout the year – here is the first book (deadline for discussion was last 1 February) which I borrowed from the library: Hawksmoor by Peter Ackroyd.
There was not much discussion on Twitter. It was Elizabeth Hamilton’s Facebook Page, the #BowieBookClub where I got the virtual discussion I was looking for. While I would not say that I liked this novel, I felt an immense sense of satisfaction that I finished reading it over one weekend, and that I went outside of my comfort zone and interacted with other fellow book enthusiasts.
I am hoping that the book this February would resonate with me more: The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin. Discussion will be by end of this month.
So, for those who think that reading is something that you do on your own, clearly these platforms may not be known to you just yet – unless of course you prefer to read and enjoy your novels on your own, that’s all good too.
Looks like my book stack is piling up everyday. Doesn’t that look delicious?
Do you know of any other online reading communities that you think we should know about? Share with us your thoughts in the Comments Section.