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

      Thelwall, Mike; Bourrier, Karen (Emerald, 2019-09-09)
      Purpose - Despite the social, educational and therapeutic benefits of book clubs, little is known about which books participants are likely to have read. In response, this article investigates the public bookshelves of those that have joined a group within the Goodreads social network site. Design/methodology/approach – Books listed as read by members of fifty large English language Goodreads groups - with a genre focus or other theme - were compiled by author and title. Findings – Recent and youth-oriented fiction dominate the fifty books most read by book club members, while almost half are works of literature frequently taught at the secondary and postsecondary level (literary classics). Whilst JK Rowling is almost ubiquitous (at least 63% as frequently listed as other authors in any group, including groups for other genres), most authors, including Shakespeare (15%), Goulding (6%) and Hemmingway (9%), are little read by some groups. Nor are individual recent literary prize-winners or works in languages other than English frequently read. Research limitations/implications – Although 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/value – This 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.