chapter
12 Pages

Introduction

Excitement, entertainment, and city pride-but not because Birmingham City won a championship soccer game or the Boston Red Sox won the World Series, or (to briefly enter the realm of fantasy) the Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Chicago Blackhawks in the NHL Stanley Cup finals. All the people quoted above are referring to the pleasure of reading and sharing books on a scale and in ways that contemporary mass media and new technologies make possible. At the turn of the twenty-first century, this kind of excitement signals a resurgence of interest in sharing the experiences of book reading with other people. That level of interest has inspired television producers, librarians, and arts administrators to create new cultural formations, or models, for what we call shared reading. These manifestations of contemporary cultures of leisure reading, or mass reading events (MRE), as we have named them, are the focus of this book. They deserve careful scrutiny because investigating their production, promotion, circulation, and reception suggests why a feeling for reading and sharing books persists in North America and the United Kingdom in a digital age. During a time when it became possible for those with Internet access to share the minutiae of their everyday lives-their photographs, political opinions, and homemade movies with a few clicks of a mouse-why did some people choose to share their reading experiences?