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The reading background of Goodreads book club members: a female fiction canon?

The reading background of Goodreads book club members: a female fiction canon? Despite the social, educational and therapeutic benefits of book clubs, little is known about which books participants are likely to have read. In response, the purpose of this paper is to investigate the public bookshelves of those that have joined a group within the Goodreads social network site.Design/methodology/approachBooks listed as read by members of 50 large English-language Goodreads groups – with a genre focus or other theme – were compiled by author and title.FindingsRecent and youth-oriented fiction dominate the 50 books most read by book club members, whilst almost half are works of literature frequently taught at the secondary and postsecondary level (literary classics). Whilst J.K. Rowling is almost ubiquitous (at least 63 per cent as frequently listed as other authors in any group, including groups for other genres), most authors, including Shakespeare (15 per cent), Goulding (6 per cent) and Hemmingway (9 per cent), are little read by some groups. Nor are individual recent literary prize winners or works in languages other than English frequently read.Research limitations/implicationsAlthough these results are derived from a single popular website, knowing more about what book club members are likely to have read should help participants, organisers and moderators. For example, recent literary prize winners might be a good choice, given that few members may have read them.Originality/valueThis is the first large scale study of book group members’ reading patterns. Whilst typical reading is likely to vary by group theme and average age, there seems to be a mainly female canon of about 14 authors and 19 books that Goodreads book club members are likely to have read. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of Documentation Emerald Publishing

The reading background of Goodreads book club members: a female fiction canon?

Journal of Documentation , Volume 75 (5): 23 – Sep 12, 2019

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
© Emerald Publishing Limited
ISSN
0022-0418
DOI
10.1108/jd-10-2018-0172
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Despite the social, educational and therapeutic benefits of book clubs, little is known about which books participants are likely to have read. In response, the purpose of this paper is to investigate the public bookshelves of those that have joined a group within the Goodreads social network site.Design/methodology/approachBooks listed as read by members of 50 large English-language Goodreads groups – with a genre focus or other theme – were compiled by author and title.FindingsRecent and youth-oriented fiction dominate the 50 books most read by book club members, whilst almost half are works of literature frequently taught at the secondary and postsecondary level (literary classics). Whilst J.K. Rowling is almost ubiquitous (at least 63 per cent as frequently listed as other authors in any group, including groups for other genres), most authors, including Shakespeare (15 per cent), Goulding (6 per cent) and Hemmingway (9 per cent), are little read by some groups. Nor are individual recent literary prize winners or works in languages other than English frequently read.Research limitations/implicationsAlthough these results are derived from a single popular website, knowing more about what book club members are likely to have read should help participants, organisers and moderators. For example, recent literary prize winners might be a good choice, given that few members may have read them.Originality/valueThis is the first large scale study of book group members’ reading patterns. Whilst typical reading is likely to vary by group theme and average age, there seems to be a mainly female canon of about 14 authors and 19 books that Goodreads book club members are likely to have read.

Journal

Journal of DocumentationEmerald Publishing

Published: Sep 12, 2019

Keywords: Gender; Goodreads; Book groups; Fiction authors; Fiction cannon; Fiction genres; Fiction reading; Reading groups

References