VendrediLecture, one for the books on social media

Paperback and glasses

Let’s be honest, between social networking and apps, it seems like people are spending more time crushing candies and less time reading. But don’t despair; VendrediLecture (VL) has come along to remind us that reading is still cool.

This wonderful idea began in 2011 by two French bloggers and book lovers, Marion and Sabbio. They had heard about #FridayReads, which launched in the US via social networks – mainly Facebook and Twitter – inviting people to use this special hashtag to share what they’re reading.

Marion and Sabbio participated but soon faced a problem. Most of the books discussed weren’t available in France. Their immediate reaction was to adapt the concept but in a much more engaging way. Instead of a weekly hashtag, they launched a French association named VendrediLecture (http://vendredilecture.com).

“The goal was to create an online community of readers without being a book club,” Nathalie Manceau, the current VL president, explains. “There are so many websites and forums where people can give their opinions, we wanted something more interactive and more direct.” And as Nathalie points out, “Unlike a forum, you don’t need to create an extra account. It touches a much more general audience.”

And it’s working, VL has become France’s leading literary event on social media.

A quick glance at some of the users shows how diverse VL has become. Children, teenagers, adults, fans of Twilight or Victor Hugo addicts … everyone is talking about what they read or their favourite writers.

#VendrediLecture trended three consecutive weeks and it has more than 12,000 followers on Twitter and Facebook. Even l’Education Nationale and La Chaîne Parlementaire are tweeting VendrediLecture; publishing houses have partnered to offer books.

Unlike the Anglo-Saxon #FridayReads, VL organises light-hearted online activities to get you talking, without being too serious. “It would be a bit boring to be active only on Fridays,” Nathalie says. “Creating interaction is a good way to earn the loyalty of our followers and to remind them that reading is a pleasure.”

Monday is “La Petite Question du Lundi”, asking things like “What would you like to do?” I replied that I’d have killed Bella in the first chapter of Twilight. Considering how many people liked my answer, I think Bella was quite lucky we didn’t write the saga.

Tuesday is for “advice” – #MardiConseil – to recommend a book, although not necessarily the last one you read. Recently, I shared one of my favourite plays, The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams. Despite the popular adaptations of his Streetcar Named Desire and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Williams is not a popular playwright in France. I received tweets thanking me for the suggestion.

Friday, naturally, is the most important day of the week. VL’s team of 16 organises two activities: a special quiz, which can have a news theme or be general knowledge – yes, you can use Google to find the answers – and the superstar #VendrediLecture for which you can win a prize.

“Some readers have a sort of inferiority complex,” Nathalie tells us. “They think because they read chick-lit or only one book per month that they’re a poor reader. This is simply not true. The important thing is that you read ... and share.”

Americanophile Elodie Peyrano is a graduate of Nice’s École du Journalisme.

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