Happy Birthday, 1book140

1book140_icon.JPG In March 2010 I wrote a blog post for Wired.com. "I have a dream. An idea. A maybe great notion. Or, as Augie March might say—'I got a scheme."* My scheme was this: What if everyone on Twitter read the same book? They can get everyone in Chicago to read To Kill a Mockingbird. Why should we be limited to geography? 


And we weren't. That summer some 12,000 people read American Gods by Neil Gaiman. I considered the experiment a success, then shut it down for a year while I went off to grad school. Then, nearly exactly a year ago, I teamed up with the excellent Eleanor Barkhorn and Bob Cohn at The Atlantic, and we made the book club—now called 1book140—an ongoing, monthly concern.

As I noted in a May 20 New York Times Book Review essay, the point was less to promote literature (Ewww! Spinach!) than give a bunch of people who'd never know each other otherwise something in common to talk about. To that end, the club has exceeded my wildest dreams. We have some 65,000 members now, hailing from all over the world. The sun never sets on the conversation. Sometimes bawdy, sometimes high-minded, and always good-humored and civil, #1book140 never fails to entertain and amuse me. 

So happy birthday, bookies! And welcome to any new followers who've joined after reading the Times essay. Here's a primer explaining exactly how this whole thing works. As I always say, it's not my book club, but yours. Thank you for making it great. 


* There are three literary allusions in that quote. Crazy glory points for any bookie to name all three of 'em.
Presented by

Jeff Howe is a professor of journalism at Northeastern University in Boston and a former Nieman Fellow at Harvard. He helps run @1book140, The Atlantic's Twitter book club. More

Jeff Howe is a professor of journalism at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts and a former Nieman Fellow at Harvard University. He previously worked as a contributing editor at Wired Magazine, where he covered the media and entertainment industries. In June 2006 he published "The Rise of Crowdsourcing" in Wired. In September 2008 he published a book on the subject for Random House. The book has been translated into 11 languages. Before coming to Wired in 2001 he was a senior editor at Inside.com and a writer at the Village Voice. In his 20 years as a journalist he has traveled around the world working on stories ranging from the impending water crisis in Central Asia to the implications of gene patenting. He has written for Time, U.S. News & World Report, The Washington Post, Mother Jones and numerous other publications. He lives in Cambridge with his wife and two children.

Saving the Bees

Honeybees contribute more than $15 billion to the U.S. economy. A short documentary considers how desperate beekeepers are trying to keep their hives alive.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well.

Video

Before Tinder, a Tree

Looking for your soulmate? Write a letter to the "Bridegroom's Oak" in Germany.

Video

The Health Benefits of Going Outside

People spend too much time indoors. One solution: ecotherapy.

Video

Where High Tech Meets the 1950s

Why did Green Bank, West Virginia, ban wireless signals? For science.

Video

Yes, Quidditch Is Real

How J.K. Rowling's magical sport spread from Hogwarts to college campuses

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

More in Entertainment

From This Author

Just In