My sister-in-law just sent me a link to one of those social media book sites (I won’t mention URLs). I opened it and read the following brief justification of its existence: “Keep track of what your friends and family are reading without ever having to ask…”
Why!? Is it the aim of Web 2.0 to destroy every last vestige of audible, face-to-face conversation? Why would anyone want to eliminate the need to talk to friends and family about the books they are reading? One of my great pleasures is my monthly book club meeting. OK, so we don’t only talk about books, but the pretext exists – we meet to choose books, buy books, talk about books, and of course, get out of the house for a good laugh, coffee and cake. I cannot imagine an existence in which a website replaced my beloved book club.
Let’s face it, the main reason that people put their book lists up on social media websites is, well, to show off. Who really adds their Danielle Steele or John Grisham reads? No, they want to flash the world their highbrow reading resume.
Still, I’m not entirely opposed, and these sites have their uses. I am happy to summarily tell those people who ask me to recommend them “a book” like they would ask me to recommend them a plumber, to refer to my list on an certain unnamed social media site. But I’m insulted that the premise of these sites is virtually saying: “You’ll never have to indulge in those distasteful chats with your nearest and dearest about books. Nay! This site will save you from the anguish of talking about books, I mean how twentieth century. Join today!!”
They seek to eliminate that old faithful conversation opener read-any-good-books-lately? rendering a whole generation of nervous yet well-read daters devoid of a decent pick-up line and depriving those stranded in a conversation that’s ground to a stand-still with a life-line. Don’t talk about the books you read, they say, rather upload little chunks of text about them.
Dear readers, I’m a social media fan (I am blogging, aren’t I?), but please, don’t let Web 2.0 kill the art of the real, live, flesh and blood book chat.
(This blog is dedicated to the wonderful women of the Tel Mond Book Club)