24-Hour Bookclub Tips

In just a few short hours, the latest edition of 24-Hour Bookclub—a reading flashmob you can join!—will begin. We’ll be reading Both Flesh and Not, the new collection of non-fiction essays by David Foster Wallace. If this time is anything like last time, I’m going to be delirious with happiness by the end of the day. I’m already kind of delirious with excitement.

Since a ton of readers are joining us for the first time, I thought I’d jot down a few examples of ways people have seized the day and new ideas we’re trying out this time. These are all things that people came up with spontaneously, though, so my number-one piece of advice is: experiment! If it seems like a good idea, try it. We’re all making this up as we go along, and that’s what makes it so fun.

You could…

  • Take a picture as you start reading. Capture the book (or the device you’re reading it on) in your natural surroundings. And if you received a membership card in the mail…might we suggest using it as a bookmark?
  • Pull quotes that catch your attention and post them to Twitter. Make sure to add the hashtag #24hourbookclub to all your tweets so that we can find them!
  • Throw an in-person reading party with friends. Last time, people in San Francisco got together to read Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore in Dolores Park with bagels. This time, people are gathering in Brooklyn to read together and eat coffee cake. That’s so cool.
  • Write more than 140 characters on Branch! Thanks to Libby and Josh at Branch, we’re all set up with a shiny new Branch group for 24-Hour Bookclub. Click “ask to join” and we’ll let you right in once it’s Sunday morning where you are. We’ve set up separate branches for each essay in the collection. Once you finish reading “The (As it Were) Seminal Importance of Terminator 2,” for instance, you can hop on over to the associated branch and see what other people have to say, as well as adding your own thoughts. Branch and Twitter are complementary; Branch emanates quiet purpose and lively civility, where Twitter is all chaos and bright light. I’m excited to see them coexist!
  • Highlight in Readmill as you go along. I did this for my original solo book-in-a-day experiment and I can’t wait to do it again for Both Flesh and Not. When Matthew from Readmill interviewed me and Max over email, I realized that “calm and exhilaration are two sides of the same coin: books were made for immersion, and no experience is more immersive than Readmill.” If you’d like, you can follow my real-time highlights and notes here.
  • Share your thoughts out loud with SoundCloud. I love the image of a time-shifted in-person bookclub…all of us sitting around a kitchen table, talking once we have things to say. SoundCloud’s mobile apps are great for recording audio on the fly—I use their iOS app pretty much every day.

Or…just quietly read, and know that you’re in good company. I love playing with new tools, and I love that so many 24-Hour Bookclub readers do, too. But books are our first love, and if solitude feels truest to you, then that’s what you should do. This can be whatever we want it to be, and if all you need is the license to throw yourself into a book for a day…well, dear reader, we will give that to you in a heartbeat.

I hope to see you in the morning! Thank you for being a part of this.