Virtual Green Book Clubs

Have you ever been curious about a local book club but shied away because the books chosen just weren’t your cup of tea? A new trend of online book clubs provides an alternative. Avid  readers may instead get engaged in virtual discussion forums about a shared interest—yes, even wetlands, and other environmental topics.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) recently launched a new virtual book club called “America’s Wild Read,” featuring ecologist E.O. Wilson’s novel, Anthill. The virtual book club invites readers to participate over eleven weeks this spring and summer, reading different books with an ecological or environmental theme. To learn more about the books on the list and participate, visit: http://americaswildlife.org/WildRead/

One of the largest virtual book clubs is called Copiahttp://www.thecopia.com/home/index.html which includes an application for iPad users. Sign up and then join a group with shared interests, or browse for books under a topic, like wetlands. The Copia virtual book club returned 32,000 book titles related to wetlands. In Copia, users can build a virtual library and keep track of titles.

A similar website, Good Reads, generates lists of books based on users’ recommendations. They have lots of options for readers from book swaps to ebooks, reading groups to join, and a creative writing section with short stories and poetry grouped by topic, e.g. outdoors/nature.

In addition, some environmental book clubs have optional in-person meetings and maintain a blog, so others can participate and keep up with the recommended reading. For instance, The Echoing Green Book Club has a blog; this is a program of a nonprofit organization (Echoing Green.) If you’re on Facebook, there are a number of environmentally-themed book club discussions ongoing, like this one called Green Book Club Discussion.

For those readers who crave the emotional connection to other readers and prefer to meet in person to discuss books, check out this article on how to start a green book club:http://planetgreen.discovery.com/work-connect/start-green-book-club.html It suggests starting with classics including Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring and Thoreau’s Walden.

ASWM currently has a Recommended Reading corner of the blog (lower-right), featuring a wetland-related or environmentally-themed book that has been recommended to us. ASWM is also in the process of moving the wetland book list (titles that are available on Amazon.com) over to the new website. Once that is done, there’s a good potential list of titles for a future online discussion forum, or “virtual wetland book club” on ASWM’s website.

For now, readers may turn the page—whether it’s paper or electronic, and join a discussion of their favorite “green” books.

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