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May 10, 2017

Online Book Communities --- Guest Post by Teen Board Member Rachel R.

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In early May, Teen Board Member Caitlyn K. blogged about the privilege of reading and how often we take it for granted. Expanding upon that idea, Teen Board Member Rachel R. began to think about the online book community and how it changed her views on reading and made her appreciate books even more. In this post, you can read about all the ways that Rachel has found a home in the online book community and learn about how you can, too!

After reading the blog post by Caitlyn K. on the privilege of reading, I started thinking about the other privileges and benefits that come with reading, including the online book community, which is a particular benefit that I’m especially thankful for.

I’ve grown up in a town where reading is, sadly, not everyone’s priority. Sports are the center of my town (for which I have neither talent nor interest), but besides that, academic performance is also highly sought, especially in math and the sciences.

I’ve often felt out of place in the town where on the weekends most spend their time at sports games and academic extracurricular activities, while I fit my reading in all the cracks of free time I have. Our town library is for studying and meeting friends, and the only people that seem to remember that the library has books in it are adults over 40. I think that I’m one of the only teens who visits the library regularly for the purpose of checking out books (which, if you look on the bright side, does guarantee a pretty good inventory of teen books on the shelves). Though many of my friends say that yes, they’d like to read more, they just don’t have the time, unfortunately, when I think about attending author signings and book festivals, my list of friends to invite along is embarrassingly short.

"There’s enjoyment in reading a book yourself, but it is equally as exciting to see someone else enjoy a book as much as you did."

Although many would say that reading is an individual hobby, the whole point of reading is not just to read for your own benefit, not just to learn from and enjoy the stories you read, but to share them with others, to share the experience of both reading as a whole and the specific characters and worlds you discover. Because yes, there’s enjoyment in reading a book yourself, but it is equally as exciting to see someone else enjoy a book as much as you did.

That’s why the online book community is so important, and why I consider it something as important as reading itself. Because the online community helps us realize that we are a part of something, that there are other people like us, people who stuff their bookshelves to the limit, people who live at the library, people who read on weekends and weekdays and when they’re supposed to be working (even though they know that’s not a good idea) because they just can’t stop.

We are the people that make the time for reading, who consider it important enough and worth enough to consider it a priority. We find each other online because, unfortunately, readers are a small group, and we often struggle to find each other in person.

Through social media and the numerous websites for readers on the internet, we readers are able to find friends who share our interests (and many of our favorite books!), and we find an outlet to share our feelings about the best novels out there and pass along recommendations to others.

"Connecting with others makes reading an active hobby, something that gives us things to do and people to talk to, in addition to books to read."

This helps to make reading more than just a solitary hobby. Though I always had a passion for reading, I realized that once I started becoming more involved in the online community, my passion became pride, too. I was proud to be a reader, and happy to know that I wasn’t alone in that pride. Connecting with others makes reading an active hobby, something that gives us things to do and people to talk to, in addition to books to read.

So if you’ve just found the online book community, welcome! Explore Teenreads’ social media pages and other features on the website. Sign up for our newsletters, and maybe even think about applying to be on the Teen Board in the coming school year. Being a part of the community is something that gives back. The more you put into it and the more involved you are, the more you start to find exactly where you fit in such a large community of readers.

To everyone who is already involved, thank you. Your enthusiasm has helped keep readers connected online, me included, and shown us that there are readers out there like us, all across the country and the world.