Hey, Internet: What if We All Read the Same Book?

By Jeff Howe

1book140_icon.JPG Last spring I had a dream: What if everyone on Twitter, from Bangalore to Bismarck, read the same book at the same time? Inspired by such gargantuan read-alongs as One Book, One Chicago, I wrote a post for Wired.com proposing the formation of a massive, international book club that I called One Book, One Twitter.

First, the crowd would nominate a shortlist of books and vote on a winner. Then we'd come together and spend the summer reading the chosen title. If it sounded a little grandiose, my heart was in the right place. In the end, it exceeded all my expectations: By that June some 12,000 people from around the world were reading—and avidly discussing—Neil Gaiman's American Gods. One Book, One Twitter was a smash. The only problem? It disappeared, like barbecues and seersucker suits, when summer came to a close.

Now it's back. I'd always intended to relaunch One Book, One Twitter, and now The Atlantic has given me the perfect chance. It has a new name—1book140—but what hasn't changed is the global, participatory nature of the affair: The crowd is still in charge. We'll look to you to nominate a list of candidates, then vote on a winner. Best of all, 1book140 is going monthly, with no end date in sight. Every month we'll read a new book; during the last few weeks of each cycle we'll vote on what to read the following month.

So what do we do now? Pick a book! Starting today we'll be collecting nominations via Twitter and comments on The Atlantic's Entertainment channel. I'll provide regular summaries of the conversation so you can see what books are in the running. After a week, the One Book, 140 team and I will release a shortlist of five books and open the voting, which will run for the next week. Then on Wednesday, June 1, we'll start reading, and tweeting, and reading, and tweeting.

For those who like bullet points, that's:

• May 16: Nominating begins.

• May 23: Voting begins.

• May 26: Voting ends and book title is announced.

• June 1: Reading begins.

So get nominating! Follow @1book140 for updates, and #1book140 for the discussion.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2011/05/hey-internet-what-if-we-all-read-the-same-book/238931/