Happy Birthday, 1book140

By Jeff Howe

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.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2012/05/happy-birthday-1book140/257402/