I am awful with making New Year’s resolutions and sticking to them. So when 2016 started, I was not looking in any way to join a club or make a major change for the sake of the New Year. That is, until Emma Watson made a mega announcement that she was starting a feminist book club.
Emma’s book club – called Our Shared Shelf, thanks to a fan who suggested the name – was started from her experiences working as the UN Women Goodwill Ambassador. She floated the idea into the social media world via Twitter, and it exploded. Multiple topics about the book club trended for at least two days after the announcement. She then created a page on Goodreads and posted an open letter to fans who could join this feminist book club movement, where she encouraged discussion and the sharing of ideas. Since the club’s start in January, Emma has posted some of her favorite quotes along with responses to people from all over the world about different topics and encouraging new ideas.
I was a bit skeptical at first, but I joined because, well, it’s Emma Watson. I followed the club’s Goodreads page and saw the excitement of other members practically ooze through my phone screen. I grabbed the club’s first book, My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem, a well-known women’s rights activist. Embarrassingly (or at least I thought), I did not know much about Gloria Steinem. As it turns out, I flew through the book. Steinem has a way of inviting the reader into her journey without expectation and with total acceptance. I have loved every moment of it. The best part? I have gotten to share these sentiments with thousands of people from all over the globe and not keep them to myself like I normally do when no one I know is reading the same book.
There are A LOT of reasons to join this book club. First and foremost, the club opens another pathway for people to have conversations about important topics in a way that’s both respectable and global. Discussing feminist ideas is necessary but can sometimes become a bit tricky considering there are (somehow) still some people who lack respect for the topic. Our Shared Shelf’s clear guidelines have laid out rules that moderators are asking everyone to be aware of and abide by. The conversation that’s been opened by the book thus far has been wide reaching and thought provoking. Posted quotes from the book have stemmed discussion regarding topics such as LGBT rights as well as black feminism. People have been provided with a safe space for crucial and opinion-changing discussion.
In the last week of January, we will be discussing final thoughts and other ideas related to the book. This leads to the second reason as to why you should read the book – connection. The idea of book meetups was posed, and tons of forums from all over the world have been posted in regards to book club meetups where anyone can join to discuss the month’s book. There have been forums from Los Angeles, California, to the Netherlands to Spain. The club is managing to bring people together where they may not have the opportunities to discuss such important topics. Our Shared Shelf has also created a sense of interconnectedness globally as well. Yesterday, I found myself reaching out to comment on a reader’s post from Italy. There is no pressure to respond to anyone or even post comments into the Goodreads forums; rather, the forums, like books, are there if you want to interact with them.
Another reason to join the club, and a comforting one, is that reading the books is not all that time consuming. Although I love reading, I admit that I am a slow reader and do not have a lot of time to read with all my other obligations. With that said, I have one chapter left of the book. Because Emma waits until the last week of the month to really start discussion, the reader has some time to get through the book. Even if you can’t rush through it, you can still be involved in discussion by posting quotes you have read or ideas that have come across your mind as you have been reading. Plus, even if you have to skip a month, you can always add the month’s pick to your reading list.
As someone who has stopped making New Year’s resolutions, I am so happy to have found this book club. Reading twelve books for the next twelve months might just be the resolution that sticks.
For more information, be sure to check out the Our Shared Shelf page on Goodreads.