HuffPo Asks: Srsly, Online Book Clubs? MOBC Responds: Erik Larson, Are You Busy Friday?

Today, Huffington Post's Jo Piazza dared to question something near and dear to we Mixmaster-ers' hearts: Is it a real book community if it's exclusively online?

We, as members of the Mixmaster Online Book Club, certainly like to think so -- but then, to be fair, many of the MOBC-ers know one another by way of actual friendships, online friendships, or at the very least, familiarity with commentor handles.

The subject came up after GoodReads, the online community of readers, announced an online book club and the selection of Jennifer Egan's Pulitzer Prize-winning A Visit From the Goon Squad. Piazza reports that due to book club attention, more than 37,000 members adding the book to their cyber-shelves, some chapters received more than 1000 comments, and Egan's novel earned the position of 11th most read book on GoodReads.

But what of the community? As Piazza asks: "Was this a club at all or just a bunch of people reading at the same time?" So, she went to the Jennifer Egan herself, who participated in a Skype chat at the close of the selection, and asked a few questions on the club's online nature:

HP: Do you think we can call this a book "club" since the members never really meet face to face?

JE: I feel like this moment in our technological history is about redefining all kinds of terms like community and club to include a virtual component. I struggle with this enormously. I am old-fashioned I don't have even have an e-reader. But this is about connection and people wouldn't do these things if they didn't feel connected. If book clubs are about people connecting to discuss books I think this meets the definition.

HP: As an author did you feel like you were part of a club?

JE: I felt connected to the people who read the books slightly more than a person who picks up the book and reads it and really enjoys it on their own. I felt connected to them to them because of their connection to each other.

The rest of the interview is available here.

So, clearly, you see where we're going with this now:

Dear Erik Larson,
Friday at 3:30 p.m. (Central) marks the final Mixmaster Online Book Club meeting wherein we will discuss your latest book, In the Garden of the Beasts. As you state on your website that you occasionally attend book club meetings when you're in the area, we cordially invite you to join us in the comments of a MOBC blog post here on the Mixmaster. We hope to provide a lively and thoughtful discussion of the last section, epilogue and overall work. And we sincerely hope you will drop in should you have a few spare moments.
The members of the Mixmaster Online Book Club, a respectful and somewhat organized crew of Dallas Observer staffers and lit nerds from Dallas, TX and various other places

Follow the Mixmaster on Twitter: @the_mixmaster.