What is Social Reading?

The act of reading should be simple, right? A person, a book. That’s it.

So what’s all this about “social reading?” Why would a new web site devote itself to that undefined act?

Fortunately, Book Riot doesn’t intend to leave the phrase “social reading” undefined. I’m writing my inaugural post in an effort to start a conversation about that definition.

Whoops! I just committed “social reading.”

The most astute of you already know that reading has been social in nature for some millennia, now. Even if Homer (or his amanuensis) could write and read, most of his audience could not. Today we can easily toss around “readers” as a plural noun, but back in the day, everyone was lucky when one man (and alas, it was usually a man) could decipher a document. People had to rely on their community if they wanted to know anything about what was read.

Things changed rapidly when they did change, and by the 20th century, literacy became a benchmark of civilization. Along the way, for many reasons with which I will not bore you here, the relationship between one person and one book at a time was cemented. So many people discovered the absolute joy of learning from and getting lost in the pages of a good book that there was no going back to a time in which one person read and the others listened.

But what if one person reads—and then listens to others about that book?

Exactly. THAT is “social reading,” and it too has been happening for some time. Think of classrooms, book groups, scripture discussions, reading aloud, bedtime stories, author events, and literary festivals.

So while “social reading” isn’t new, in the last few years it has changed radically. Book Riot didn’t invent “social reading.” Book Riot is helping to define it by using the latest tools available: the Internet, the World Wide Web, and social-media applications that make it easier than ever before to expand the reading experience beyond a book’s covers. You can learn more about a particular passage, chat live with the author, discuss themes with other readers, and even leave your own thoughts in a comment or on a blog.

Book Riot didn’t invent “social reading,” but we want to help to define it.

Welcome to a new place for learning, sharing, hopefully laughing—and yes, reading. Book Riot keeps its focus in its name and its eyes on the literary landscape. And the more of you who join in, the more fun this “social reading” thing will be as it evolves.

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