By Alexandria Arritt
Many may remember Hogwart’s smart mouthed and quick-witted Hermione, played by Emma Watson. After a childhood of fame, Emma began to use her highly-viewed platform to speak about women’s issues. Emma Watson completed a degree in English literature at Brown University, and she was named UN Women Goodwill Ambassador in July 2014. Emma is a champion for women’s rights, and she has created a couple organizations that are meant to further progress for equality between the genders.
Emma Watson created the HeForShe campaign, and their mission is to stand together and act to create a gender equal world. The campaign encourages website users to voice what they think are the most pressing issues that affect women. The website creates a place where women and men can unite and get involved. HeForShe directs users to easy ways to act across the world. Along with the HeForShe campaign, Emma Watson has created a feminist book club. The club is a way for different types of people to learn and grow together when learning about feminism.
Our Shared Shelf, created in Fall 2016, is run by Emma Watson and can be accessed by Goodreads. Anyone can make a free account and join the group! Our Shared Self’s mission statement is concluded as a letter to the readers. The statement reads,
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. There is so much amazing stuff out there! Funny, inspiring, sad, thought-provoking, empowering! I’ve been discovering so much that, at times, I’ve felt like my head was about to explode… I decided to start a Feminist book club, as I want to share what I’m learning and hear your thoughts too.
The book club helps cultivate learning within the feminist community, and is of course open to anyone that is interested. Not just self-identified feminists. The Goodreads book club updates its members through emails and Goodreads notifications, and the club has many other features included on the website. The bookshelf includes all the past books the book club has read, and the club typically reads two books per month. The bookshelf also shows all the books they will be featuring and discussing. This is an awesome feature for avid readers that are interested in reading more once they read the current month’s books. Another feature is the discussion board. Our Shared Shelf is really a basis for discussion, so the discussion board is essential. Writers and readers engage in stimulating conversation about the books and the issues discussed within. Emma often creates discussion topics and includes her own thoughts for other readers to bounce off and expand upon. One of the coolest factors about Our Shared Shelf is that they have an option to poll the members. This means that the members decide what they want to read for the next month! The book club also includes a series of video interviews with Emma Watson and Caitlin Moran, an English journalist, author and broadcaster for The Times. Caitlin Moran also wrote a book called How to Be a Woman that was released in July of 2012 and has sold over 400,000 copies since. How to Be a Woman is just one of many books that Our Shared Shelf features.
A lot of different books are included in the book club which allows it to be very inclusive and expansive. There’s something for everyone! Historical, fiction, nonfiction, poetry and essays are just a few examples of the bookshelf genres. The current book for September 2017 is Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay, the author of Bad Feminist. Hunger , a non-fiction book, explores the pressure of self-image and the difficulty of taking care of yourself while feeding the desires for delicious food. Roxane uses her own experiences to guide us through the emotional journey she undertakes partly because of a violent act she experienced when she was younger. This book, and many others, serve to open the public’s eyes to a world that they may not know exists. Books like this allow women and men alike to connect and understand personal moments that depict larger problems within society. Issues covered in these books deal with the idea of femininity, beauty, double standards, purity, LGBTQ+ issues, marriage, and more. They also cover a range of historical time periods so readers can compare what women experienced then and now. We get to see what issues have changed and what has remained the same.
Our Shared Shelf allows a variety of readers to discover more about themselves and more about feminism. Feminism allows for critical thought and discussion and continual learning, and Emma Watson’s book club is the perfect setting for women’s issues to be examined and talked about on a wide spread platform. Our Shared Self is a wonderful resource for those interested in reading, discussing, and expanding their knowledge of the all-inclusive feminist movement.