Twittering on about world-changing books

I’m not sure how many of The Reader Online’s devoted readers use Twitter exactly (for those who do, are you following us? And also for those who don’t yet know the joy of tweeting, what better excuse to sign up than to receive hot-off-the-press updates from the team at TRO?). Many have debated the purpose of the social networking phenomenon, arguing it doesn’t do much except to give the bored and self-obsessed an outlet to keep everyone updated with relatively mundane and brief anecdotes about their lives (of course, our Twitter page is nothing like that *shameless plug ended*), or otherwise is a way of keeping Stephen Fry occupied between series of Q.I.

But of course, Twitter is a very useful tool for a number of things, coming in especially handy for promoting great causes and protesting (in a good way) from the comfort of your own desktop. And now it’s getting its vast community of twitterers tweeting about the books that have had a lasting impact on their lives. On June 16th , #booksthatchangedmyworld was the third most popular ‘trending topic’ worldwide on the site – one tweet-count estimate suggested that by midnight almost 7,000 people had tweeted their own choices of books that had inspired them.

The trend was started by American writer and journalist Susan Orlean, who was pleasantly surprised to find that so many twitterers had felt enthused to share their reading selections on a platform often berated for being trivial and frequently accused of depleting attention spans. The Wall Street Journal quoted her as saying: “The theme in all of this is that there’s a philosophical, emotional, spiritual element that affects someone forever, besides the pleasure of beautiful writing. They’re books that make people say, ‘I understand something about the world that I did not know before.’”

If you’re a Twitterer, why not join in the conversation yourself by adding the hashtag #booksthatchangedmyworld to the end of your next tweet and keep an eye on others’ choices. You can also take a look at Susan’s list of life-changing books here.

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