Tumblr’s official book club is here, and it’s not your average daytime-TV style operation. Instead, the Reblog Book Club Tumblr site is a celebration of Internet fandom culture, and an example of how Tumblr can contain a lot more than porn and selfies.
Book clubs are often considered the domain of wine-clinking mommies with minor literary affectations and major loves of gossip. But this trope of a catty, pinot-swilling gaggle of book club members does a disservice to the active, thriving communities of book lovers who genuinely want to discuss the books they read. And Tumblr is right there waiting to catch them.
As a platform, Tumblr is a godsend for niche fandoms. So launching the company’s first official book club with a novel called “Fangirl” is an especially appropriate move for the blogging service.
The book club works like this: Tumblr users read the novel, and for the first week, they discuss general themes. The following weeks are devoted to more plot-based discussion about each section of the story. Fans can use the Ask box to send questions to “Fangirl” author Rainbow Rowell, who will respond. To participate in the discussion, people can use the hashtag #reblogBook Club, and moderators will reblog their post onto the main page. They can also contribute directly to the main page through the Submit Post feature.
Rachel Fershleiser, Tumblr’s literary community organizer and the woman who runs the club, is excited about the project – to say the least.
“I have always wanted to do a Tumblr book club,” says Fershleiser. “Tumblr is full of people talking about books, and I think there’s this idea that Tumblr’s cat GIFs and pictures of pretty girls, and quotes about love over sunsets – and it is all those things. But my community on Tumblr is super literary and loves talking about books, and also to react to books, and create in reaction to books.”
Fershleiser says that, with Reblog Book Club, she wanted “to welcome in people who aren’t necessarily talking about books on Tumblr all the time.” Finding the right book to launch Reblog Book Club with was a “challenge,” she says. But then came “Fangirl.”
With the release of “Fangirl,” Fershleiser knew it was the perfect title for the community she is trying to curate. Thus, Reblog Book Club was born.”Fangirl” author Rainbow Rowell is “super active on Tumblr,” says Fershleiser, as is Noelle Stevenson, who designed the book’s cover (above). Plus, “Fangirl” is “about a young woman who writes fan fiction and is part of a passionate online fan community,” says Fershleiser, making the fit even more perfect.
“The book is technically kind of considered young adult, but I knew people in their 30s and 40s reading it and loving it,” says Fershleiser. “So you have this book that’s appealing to all ages, and is about how important it is to love the books we love and to have online friends to talk to about the books we love.”
The book club is still in its early stages, but “Fangirl” is already getting a warm reception. Fans are creating playlists, artwork, and sharing recipes inspired by their experience reading. And if they’re drinking wine and talking trash, at least they’re doing it in front of their computer screens.
(Fan art by Hey Veronica)