Goodreads Blog

How the Biggest Book Club on Goodreads Is Making a Real-World Impact

Posted by Hayley Igarashi on February 24, 2016


When Emma Watson starts a book club, readers pay attention. On January 6, the British actress and UN Women Goodwill Ambassador announced her intention to start a feminist book club. It took less than 24 hours for Watson to turn her intention into reality. By January 7, Our Shared Shelf was up and running—and less than a month later, it became the largest group on Goodreads with 100,000 members (and counting).

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"As part of my work with UN Women, I have started reading as many books and essays about equality as I can get my hands on," Watson wrote on Our Shared Shelf's group page. "There is so much amazing stuff out there! Funny, inspiring, sad, thought-provoking, empowering!" Her plan is to select one book a month to read and discuss with her fellow book club members. Her first pick was My Life on the Road, journalist and feminist activist Gloria Steinem's 2015 memoir. This month, the club is reading The Color Purple by novelist and feminist activist Alice Walker.

But Our Shared Shelf is more than just a place to find reading recommendations.

Watson's sitting down with leading feminists (and you're invited).

Tickets went fast for the first interview, but more events are on their way. To prepare for her discussion with Steinem on February 24, Watson asked her book club members for questions. She'll be sharing the video of the entire event on Our Shared Shelf.

Have a question about feminism? Ask, answer, and discuss!
Our Shared Shelf has become a thriving community of curious, passionate readers who want to know more, understand more, and share more about the social issues that affect all of us. From comparing what feminism means around the world (China, India, Brazil, and more!) to telling stories of personal struggle, this is a place to embrace the challenges and rewards of feminism.

It's got ties to the UN's HeForShe solidarity campaign.

Watson hasn't wasted any time since her UN Women Goodwill Ambassador appointment in 2014. Besides starting her feminist book club here on Goodreads, she also helped launch the UN Women's HeForShe campaign with a powerful speech at the UN Headquarters in New York City. HeForShe seeks to engage men and boys as agents of change for the achievement of gender equality. So far, over 1.3 million men and boys have taken the HeForShe pledge. Some of those same men and boys are now on Our Shared Shelf, citing Watson's UN speech as their eye-opening introduction to feminism.

Members are meeting up and organizing all over the world.

Some things are too good to keep online. Book club members are organizing in-person discussion groups from Los Angeles to Sydney. Others are teaming up for email campaigns to promote girls' education in Yemen and Pakistan. And if you're in a corner of the world without an Our Shared Shelf presence (yet)? Meet up with your fellow book club members on Skype!


Are you already a member of Our Shared Shelf? Tell us about your experience in the comments! (And if you haven't joined, check out what you're missing here.)

Comments (showing 1-50 of 179) (179 new)


Kikki. You can count on me like 1, 2, 3 I'll be there This is what a good article on the group looks like


message 2: by Hallie (new)

Hallie Fletcher Finally! This is receiving more light!


message 3: by Amber (new)

Amber Martingale Interesting name, Kikki.

That said, most (meaning 99.9999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999ad infinitum%) of so-called "feminist books/authors" DO NOT appeal to me.

In one case, Alice Walker's The Color Purple, it's because I DID NOT like the movie of it the first (and so far only) time I saw it all the way through...about 8 years ago.

The rest of them? I dunno but like the dystopian subgenre of the New Adult subgenre of the Young Adult/Juvenile (as they were called in the Golden Age of sci-fi) genre of books, maybe it's because I have found "feminism" to be another area that to me is the literary equivalent of nails screeching on blackboard.


message 4: by Francesca (new)

Francesca I'm a member of the group and I think it's fantastic. The discussions and the topics are interesting and everyone is very friendly and helpful, ready to answer any questions someone may have. I like the fact that it's getting more feminist books into people's hands who may not have read them before. Also, The Color Purple is my favourite book so I love that it's being read by the group this month. I also love Emma Watson so that's a plus.


message 5: by Sorobai (new)

Sorobai This post gives me mixed fellings. If on one side I support any event to do with books and the promotion of reading. On the other side I tend to catch some allergy to self-promotion and all kind of elitist or hegemonic thinking. It has nothing to do with feminism but to the closed thinking that such groups can promote.


message 6: by Emily (new)

Emily Sorobai wrote: "This post gives me mixed fellings. If on one side I support any event to do with books and the promotion of reading. On the other side I tend to catch some allergy to self-promotion and all kind of..."

You took the words out of my mouth (or fingers, rather), albeit put more eloquently than I could have.


message 7: by Alivia (new)

Alivia But feminism isn't focused on equality, otherwise it would focus on both genders.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nmzH9...


message 8: by Erma (new)

Erma Talamante Nice to see a movement focused on books and education, rather than ideals!


message 9: by Amber (new)

Amber Martingale Alivia wrote: "But feminism isn't focused on equality, otherwise it would focus on both genders.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nmzH9..."


That's ANOTHER reason "feminism" doesn't appeal to me.


message 10: by Brenda (new)

Brenda Sorobai wrote: "This post gives me mixed fellings. If on one side I support any event to do with books and the promotion of reading. On the other side I tend to catch some allergy to self-promotion and all kind of..."

Agree!!!!! I support all the groups but they are always the right. Or if you do not agree you wrong, bad, selfish.


Brittany ♥♥~Proud Hufflepuff and supporter of S.P.E.W. ~♥♥ This is the first I've heard of this group, but I am definitely heading to the group page now to join and partake in the amazing activities that are developing!


message 12: by Francesca (new)

Francesca Brittany ♥♥~Proud Hufflepuff and supporter of S.P.E.W. ~♥♥ wrote: "This is the first I've heard of this group, but I am definitely heading to the group page now to join and partake in the amazing activities that are developing!"

Yay, Brittany!! I'll see you there! ;)


Brittany ♥♥~Proud Hufflepuff and supporter of S.P.E.W. ~♥♥ Yay!!! I love joining groups with familiar faces!!


message 14: by Monica (new)

Monica Amber wrote: "Alivia wrote: "But feminism isn't focused on equality, otherwise it would focus on both genders.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nmzH9..."

That's ANOTHER reason "feminism" doesn't appeal to me."



http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictio...


message 15: by Francesca (new)

Francesca Exactly, Monica! Perfect!


message 16: by Erma (new)

Erma Talamante Monica wrote: "Amber wrote: "Alivia wrote: "But feminism isn't focused on equality, otherwise it would focus on both genders.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nmzH9..."

That's ANOTHER reason "feminism" doesn't appeal to me."


http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictio...."


Not to step on any toes here, but I think this word better describes what is meant, extremes aside...
http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictio...

And not to sound batty, but until men can become pregnant, there will never be true equality. Lol


message 17: by Monica (new)

Monica Perhaps we should think more about respect :) And where would all the fun be if we would all be able to do exactly the same things. ( get pregnant, for example)

This is a book I am looking forward to read https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6...


message 18: by Erma (new)

Erma Talamante Monica wrote: "Perhaps we should think more about respect :) And where would all the fun be if we would all be able to do exactly the same things. ( get pregnant, for example)

This is a book I am looking forward..."


Good point! And reading choice!


message 19: by MeerderWörter (new)

MeerderWörter Folks:

I'll quote Emma to make sure we're talking about the same issues:

Feminism by definition is the belief of the social, economic and political equality of the sexes.


it is about opportunities; and not about capabilities.

It makes me sick if people confuse that. (Always remember: not every female can conceive a child)


message 20: by Erma (new)

Erma Talamante MeerderWörter wrote: "it is about opportunities; and not about capabilities.

It makes me sick if people confuse that. (Always remember: not every female can conceive a child) "


Capabilities and opportunities are intertwined... If I ask for an opportunity that I am incapable of completing or achieving, is it egalitarian (or feminist) to be granted that opportunity anyway?

I have seen similar before, and personally experienced that kind of prejudice. If you are capable, then you should be able to be granted an opportunity. The two are intertwined.


message 21: by Amber (last edited Feb 24, 2016 12:05PM) (new)

Amber Martingale Monica wrote: "Amber wrote: "Alivia wrote: "But feminism isn't focused on equality, otherwise it would focus on both genders.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nmzH9..."

That's ANOTHER reason "feminism" doesn'..."


Just because the DICTIONARY says it's about equality DOESN'T MEAN THAT THAT'S HOW ITS'S ACTUALLY PRACTICED!

Erma: See above.

MeerderWörter: They also forget that not every woman who can conceive a child can CARRY said child to term.

Erma (again): Good question. Re: "Capabilities and opportunities are intertwined... If I ask for an opportunity that I am incapable of completing or achieving, is it egalitarian (or feminist) to be granted that opportunity anyway?

I have seen similar before, and personally experienced that kind of prejudice. If you are capable, then you should be able to be granted an opportunity. The two are intertwined."


message 22: by MeerderWörter (new)

MeerderWörter I just wanted to say that if you are capable, you should be given the opportunity. (As long as it doesn't interfere with another life.)

I just often can't express myself in the way I want to, English is my second language.


message 23: by Mela (new)

Mela I think here is few people who are confusing two different things:
-Feminism
-Radical feminism

Please find out meaning of this two things, and please understand that they are not SAME things.
Don't let me to talk about this and difference, because I talk enought in school on democracy.
Yes, I'm feminist, because I belive there shouldn't be difference in how you treat man, and how women (or another way around).
No, I'm not part of this book club and I'm not going to be. I think idea is beautiful, but it just isn't for me. I have my opinions, I understand what feminist is, I would fight for that if I'm in situaction where women don't have rights, and that is enought for me, right now.
So please, don't fight about things like this. You are feminist or you aren't. That is your opinion.


message 24: by Imowen (new)

Imowen Lodestone Feminism is not about equality period it's really about reducing the population. Gloria and her lap dog alice walker are nothing but tools to trick women that men are mistreating them. History lesson: Gloria was paid by the cia to start her feminist movement, to start the wedge between men and women. And all this information that's out about Gloria and her crap gets headlines on here?
This is what feminism is. A lady that's proud being a woman she understand the difference between her and I guy, but there's no static between them. To this generation of lost females stop listening to the idiot lavender menaces. What Gloria and her henchmen are talking about is false. Women are not oppressed her in the west at all, never have and never will be. Followers of Gloria the cia call girl has gotten women eligible for the draft! And yet the loud mouth idiots are unhappy about that.
Here's something why don't the radical big tough females go to Germany and Sweden and protect young girls being raped by islamic extremist scum.


message 25: by Erma (new)

Erma Talamante MeerderWörter wrote: "I just often can't express myself in the way I want to, English is my second language."

It is my second, also. I have learned over many years to take discussions on language and usage of English lightly. Many people have various meanings for words that don't always coincide.

I always find it a learning experience in these kinds of forums, so I try not to tread on too many toes, and not take too much personally. :)


message 26: by Breathing (new)

Breathing I see there are already people here spreading the word about the evil of feminism.

I'd just like to say: "[2]" =)

Don't fall for modern feminism people, it is a force of polarisation not of empowerment.


message 27: by ManicMyna (new)

ManicMyna Monica wrote: "That was a lovely glass of coolaid."


message 28: by Laith (new)

Laith Alaithan So they're dragging Tumblr into our precious Goodreads world. Alas. :(


message 29: by Becky (new)

Becky I had no idea so many Goodreads members were anti-feminist.

Now I am depressed.


message 30: by Jeffrey (new)

Jeffrey Monica wrote: "Amber wrote: "Alivia wrote: "But feminism isn't focused on equality, otherwise it would focus on both genders.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nmzH9..."

That's ANOTHER reason "feminism" doesn'..."


http://blog.practicalethics.ox.ac.uk/...


message 31: by Joshie (last edited Feb 24, 2016 05:10PM) (new)

Joshie The amount of feminism hate in this post...

As much as I am concerned, everything has two sides -- the bad and the good. Now if we're just going to focus on the bad things then that is being completely partial. We are all aware that every day women are being abused, raped, et cetera, and there is all these stereotypes surrounding women which hold them back from taking -- as an example -- science and math courses. This is the same for men in which they're taught or brought up not to do this and do that instead of showing, for instance, some weakness for fear of being tagged as "effeminate".

I do think that there is beauty in this movement, in its good side, which tries its best to address, fight and overcome sexism and inequality both sexes experience every day.

I wish we could at least celebrate the good intention of this.


message 32: by Maris (new)

Maris This sounds like a wonderful book group and I very much wish I had the time to join (maybe someday!) Women still face problems in modern day society, in everything from the workplace to the home. While we have progressed greatly as a society over the past hundred years in ensuring that everyone is given an equal opportunity in life, we still have a long way to go. Ignoring the problems women face is just as bad as ignoring racial inequality that still exists. I'm glad that Goodreads is helping to solve this problem.


message 33: by Diana (new)

Diana I'm a proud member of the group.
When you look at the world, men still hold most of the positions of power. That really annoys me. I don't see women as having some of the same opportunities. I'm a feminist who believes in gender equality and equal opportunity. I am not a man hater or separatist. I have male friends and relatives who consider themselves feminists.
I'm a lot older than Emma and her contemporaries and still feel right at home in the group.


message 34: by Mel (new)

Mel Monica wrote: "Amber wrote: "Alivia wrote: "But feminism isn't focused on equality, otherwise it would focus on both genders.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nmzH9..."

That's ANOTHER reason "feminism" doesn'..."


Thank you Monica !!! It's always amazing to me how ignorant people are about Feminism.


message 35: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan Peto It amazes me how divisive the topic of feminism is.


message 36: by Maureen (new)

Maureen My first and last question is what qualifies Emma Watson to BE appointed the UN Women Goodwill Ambassador?
And in response to the first line of this article, I am a woman, I am a feminist, and I do not give two s$#!ts what Emma Watson has to say - about books or any other topic for that matter.


message 37: by Francesca (new)

Francesca Becky wrote: "I had no idea so many Goodreads members were anti-feminist.

Now I am depressed."


Same here!


message 38: by Francesca (new)

Francesca In certain countries, we may not face the same amount of inequality as women in other countries do but that doesn't mean that we don't still have inequalities. We do. Just like Maris said, pretending that the problems aren't there is just like pretending that racism isn't still prevalent, which it is. Feminism does benefit men too, it's working for equality between both sexes. If women were equal then it wouldn't be seen as a bad thing for men to be feminine. Feminists do care about and focus on problems that women across the world face but sometimes it's easier to start on your doorstep. Not everyone has the money, time, or ability to help change anything in other countries but they can change things around them. Feminism is not about hating men. I'm sure people said all the same things about feminists in the past. They would've been called all sorts of things, man haters, radicals, etc. Yet without them, women would not have the equalities they do have now. We wouldn't have the vote or the right to go out and work if it wasn't for feminism. We have a lot more equality than we used to, but we still have a while to go.


message 39: by Gerd (new)

Gerd Alivia wrote: "But feminism isn't focused on equality, otherwise it would focus on both genders.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nmzH9..."


Perhaps, but gosh, I'm not all that much interested in protecting mens privilege. :D


message 40: by Sorobai (new)

Sorobai Emily wrote: "Sorobai wrote: "This post gives me mixed fellings. If on one side I support any event to do with books and the promotion of reading. On the other side I tend to catch some allergy to self-promotion..."

I hope no one acuses me of anti-feminism, stoling the words out of a ladys' mouth. Eloquence in a foreign language was never my strongest faculty and I would never stole anything from a lady except perhaps a kiss. I belive the kiss as an ideal can be the best form of feminism there is. And if you kiss more often as far as it is from the heart, the less you will need the feminism one sided view of the world and embrace the Feminist view that's my own. Yes - hard to belive at it would be - I'm in fact a feminist in so far as I belive in the equality of all sensient beings. I belive in the rights of men, of women and of animals and I fight for the right of my dog to vote. No really, I'm kidding, I have no dog.


message 41: by Marlou (new)

Marlou Heijnen Lewis' Law clearly applies here...


message 42: by Anny (last edited Feb 25, 2016 05:22AM) (new)

Anny Some comments on here really make me sad. Wish we could all just appreciate that amazing book club...!!



I wish I could bake a cake filled with rainbows and smiles and everyone would eat and be happy.


message 43: by Francesca (last edited Feb 25, 2016 05:25AM) (new)

Francesca Anny wrote: "I wish I could bake a cake filled with rainbows and smiles and everyone would eat and be happy. "

SHE DOESN'T EVEN GO HERE!


message 44: by Francesca (new)

Francesca Anny wrote: "Some comments on here really make me sad. Wish we could all just appreciate that amazing book club...!!


I wish I could bake a cake filled with rainbows and smiles and everyone would eat and be h..."


But, yes! I totally agree with you!


message 45: by Anny (new)

Anny Francesca wrote: "Anny wrote: "Some comments on here really make me sad. Wish we could all just appreciate that amazing book club...!!


I wish I could bake a cake filled with rainbows and smiles and everyone would..."


No, I just have a lot of feelings...
:D

But yes, sometimes it's just really hard to argue with some people. You can try explain but they have to make the step and understand themselves.


message 46: by Francesca (new)

Francesca Anny wrote: "Francesca wrote: "Anny wrote: "Some comments on here really make me sad. Wish we could all just appreciate that amazing book club...!!


I wish I could bake a cake filled with rainbows and smiles ..."


Very true. It's just not worth the energy sometimes.


message 47: by Anny (new)

Anny Francesca wrote: "Anny wrote: "Francesca wrote: "Anny wrote: "Some comments on here really make me sad. Wish we could all just appreciate that amazing book club...!!


I wish I could bake a cake filled with rainbow..."


Well, it should always be worth trying, but I see where you're going!


message 48: by Erma (new)

Erma Talamante Anny wrote: "I wish I could bake a cake filled with rainbows and smiles and everyone would eat and be happy!"

I would eat it! :)


message 49: by AlegnaB (last edited Feb 25, 2016 06:49AM) (new)

AlegnaB A poll that just came out: Less than a third of women are feminists


message 50: by Francesca (new)

Francesca AlegnaB wrote: "A poll that just came out: Less than a third of women are feminists"

Those results make me sad. Not because people won't call themselves feminists but because of their reasons for not doing so. Feminists are not anti-men like so many seem to think. I don't think most feminists are too extreme, either. As I said in an earlier post, I'm sure the suffragette's were considered too extreme and yet look what they achieved. Without feminism, we wouldn't have most of the rights that we already have. I think the saddest reason given, though, was from the people that said they 'don't believe men and women are equal'.


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