Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Tweeting Through a Book

In an earlier post on reading, I discussed some of the reasons why I thought it was helpful to write in the margins and on the pages of a book. In that post I indicated that writing in a book was helpful for me because it allowed me to keep track of tweetable quotes that I would use when I tweet through a book. I don't tweet through all the books I read, but I do it with a fair amount of regularity.

What is "tweeting through a book"?
Tweeting through a book is the process whereby one records or demarks all the quotes the reader deems tweetable. A tweetable quote, for me, is a quote that memorable or noteworthy and has the added characteristic of being less than 140 characters in length. Generally, I like to attribute the quote to its author and this demands the quotes I use to be even shorter. Some authors have a succinct writing style that lends itself well to tweets. Others, like Jonathan Edwards, seem to rarely write a sentence that is shorter than a paragraph. I'm reminded of Sam Storms saying something to the effect of "Jonathan Edwards never met a comma, semi-colon, or colon he didn't love!" Tweeting through a book includes the noting of tweetable quotes but it also includes the actual tweeting of those said quotes.


How do you "tweet through a book"?
Here are the steps I take when tweeting through a book:
  1. Take note of "tweetable" quotes while reading through a book. You can mark those quotes by writing in your book like I do here. Or you can use another method, that I demonstrate here, if writing in the book is not advised.
  2. After finishing the book, I usually enter the quotes into a word document. This step could be omitted if you wanted to go straight to tweeting. Below is a picture of a cheap and simple tool to help with the gleaning of your tweetable excerpts from the book.
  3. I transfer the quotes into tweets by cutting and pasting the quotes into Twitter via TweetDeck. TweetDeck in a platform for Twitter which I think is very helpful for this process. TweetDeck allows you to schedule your tweets. I will often schedule my tweetable quotes over the course of a week or two. This allows me to enter all of my quotes at once, even if there several dozen. This also helps your followers as they are not overwhelmed by a "twavelanche" of quotes from the book you read.


Why do you "tweet through a book"?
Perhaps I should have started with a rationale for why I "tweet through a book". But I didn't. So you get it now. First, the main reason I tweet significant quotes from the books I read is to share what I am reading with the community of people who follow me on Twitter. I remember a time this past summer, while mowing the lawn, when I was listening to a series of sermons by Arturo Azurdia on Hebrews. At one point he was discussing Hebrews 3:13 which occurs in the ESV as "But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called "today," that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin." Pastor Arturo reflected on how we might exhort one another on a daily basis. It occurred to me that one may I might do this is through sharing quotes I came across in my reading with others. Twitter seemed like a useful tool for that. I realize that the writer of Hebrews did not have social media in mind, nevertheless, perhaps this is a way to redeem this internet phenomenom.

Second, tweeting through a book allows me to interact with that book at another level. As I gather the quotes, type them out, and finally tweet them, I find that I reflect on them again. This reflection is different from my initial exposure to the words. It is a literary chewing of the cud. I think this causes the book to have a greater influence on me then it would otherwise. I also find that I am more likely to remember these passages. Thus, the reasons for tweeting through a book are twofold; for my sake and the sake of others.

I hope you will consider "tweeting through a book" in the future. I think you, like me, will find it an additional interaction with a piece of literature that is both enjoyable, and edifying for you and others. If you are interested, I tweet at @judestjohn and I'll be tweeting through my book of the year, God With Us by Scott Oliphint, in the near future.

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