Mark Zuckerberg is reading books this year.
Every year, Mr. Zuckerberg makes a self-improvement goal. They’ve been varied — everything from wearing a tie to meeting a new person every day to learning Chinese to eating meat only from animals he’d personally killed.
Mr. Zuckerberg’s goal to read a book every two weeks this year is a big deal. Obviously it’ll help several authors and publishers make tons of money. (Mr. Zuckerberg’s first book, The End of Power, jumped from #45,140 on Amazon to the Top 10. That’s pretty amazing.)
But I’m less interested in the book industry and more interested in how Mr. Zuckerberg, at least this year, will become the new Oprah.
Here’s what The New Yorker had to say about Mr. Zuckerberg:
Many of us (including author Jonathan Franzen) may have not always liked Oprah’s book choices, or even the idea of one extremely powerful person recommending what we should read. But Oprah got millions of people reading — and millions of people talking about the books they were reading.
That’s the problem with books — vs. movies, TV shows, and even podcasts. There are too many of them, and not enough people are reading the same books at the same time, and so therefore, a lot of times, this is what happens between friends.
Friend #1: Hey, did you read Being Mortal, by Atul Gawande?
Friend #2: No, but I heard about it.
Friend #1: You totally should read it.
Friend #2: OK, right. Yeah, so have you read All the Light We Cannot See?
Friend #1: No, but everyone else has. Is it good?
Friend #2: It’s amazing. You should read it.
Friend #1: OK.
This silly conversation happens all the time — and would never happen with a top movie, like Selma, or even a popular podcast, like Serial. With other forms of media, there are more shared experiences and shared conversations.
That’s not to say that I dismiss reading for its own sake. There are plenty of books I read that I love that don’t need to be talked about. Some books are just for me. Reading is wonderful as a solitary act of self-discovery.
But sometimes, I want to talk about a book. And even in book clubs, discussions sometimes stay on the surface. If books are meant to challenge our perspectives, to deepen our sense of meaning, and to build connection and empathy, then it would be nice if they’re talked about sometimes.
And that’s why I like that Mr. Zuckerberg is reading. Read on, Mr. Zuckerberg!