From February 13, 2014:
I spend a fair amount of time on Twitter, where I follow a variety of writers who, between being hilarious, grumpy, chatty, sweet, morose, philosophical and informative, are always working on one thing or another. One day I was retweeting the announcement of a tweep’s new book when I thought, “Hm. Wouldn’t it be cool to read a book by every writer I follow who has published one?”
It’s one thing to follow a person on Twitter, another to read their blog posts or magazine articles – to read their book? Well, that’s just another level of listening. (I’m working on becoming a better listener.)
I was in Colombia at the time, but returned home to Seattle several weeks later, where this thought came up again and again, until I decided to really do it. And now – midway through February – I’ve started. First I went through my follows list of 850ish accounts and tried to identify all the writers. That came to about 130 people, though I suspect I’ve missed a few. (Twitter’s web app doesn’t make searching ones own follows very straightforward). Later, I’ll sort out the ones who haven’t published a book, but it’s easy to leap right in.
Several days ago I put on hold three or four books by people I follow. One or two should be available for pick-up tomorrow, probably Kinky Gazpacho by Lori Tharps or How to Be Black by Baratunde Thurston. After a long Twitter convo with local Seattleite Stephen Robinson, I purchased his novel Mahogany Slade via Kindle. This afternoon I finished listening to the audiobook of the debut fantasy novel by a pretty entertaining young writer.
I follow some writers whose books I’ve already read – take @campcreek for example. Her book, Project Based Homeschooling, is one I’ve talked about a lot here. Or @everettmaroon and his sweet memoir, Bumbling into Body Hair. A few people I follow are fairly famous authors whose accounts I follow because I read a book they wrote (e.g. @Oliver Sacks and The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat or @bellhooks and where-to-even-begin-with-her-stellar-body-of-work), so I can tick them off the list if I want.
I follow a few big-name authors whose books I’ve never read – short stories, individual poems or articles, yes – but not books, the majority of my writer tweeps are emerging writers, indie, niche or “struggling writers” who have only published one or two books through small presses; these are the folks I was really thinking about when I decided to do this.
So I’m going to start a new series here called the TwitterBooks Project. It’s pretty simple and there’s no goal in terms of numbers. I just want to find and read books by the people I follow. One by one. Initially I thought it would take a year, but now that I’m seeing how many writers I follow, I’m thinking it will probably take two years. I’m not a fast reader. But that’s okay. What’s the rush? And as I read them, I’ll come back here and write a little “review” – or to be more truthful – a “reflection” of the book. Why not? It should be fun.