Discussion: How Fandom and Online Communities Changed the Way I Experience Books

It feels like I haven’t written a discussion in a while, so here’s one.

I was talking about a book with my dad a couple of days ago, and it got me thinking. While he and I are both huge readers (and he probably reads more than me, and has read more, obviously), we experience books completely differently. I really get attached to characters and I really deeply engage with a book. While he has books that he adores and rereads all the time, he never gets attached (nor did he ever, even when he was younger) to them in the way that I do. And it got me thinking as to why is that. And I think the Internet is to blame.

A little back story…

So back in 2014, I discovered Goodreads. Before that, I kept rereading the same books over and over again. I read as much as I do now, but my reading list was incredibly short. And then Goodreads happened and suddenly there were so many books out there, ones I never knew existed and I started reading every single thing on my recommended page.

Around that same time, I made my first Tumblr blog and suddenly I realized – there’s a whole wonderful bookish community out there. People were taking pictures of books, there were edits, there were theories, there was fanart. Everything was happening. And I found that the books I was reading came alive in a completely different way.

I was attached even before I read the book

There’s a fandom on Tumblr for almost every book and I found that I was getting into books way before I even read them. I knew every single character name, I knew the love other people had for those characters, and I felt like I was already in a story, even before I read the book itself. The plot and the characters of the books felt like separate entities, something that existed independently, outside of the pages and outside of the reading of said pages.

A Little Example: The Raven Cycle

I am pretty sure I mentioned (briefly, in passing) how much I love this series. But the truth is, I loved it even before I read it. A while ago this series was huge on Tumblr, and every single post on my dashboard was related to the Raven Cycle. I knew all of the characters and I felt like there was no possible way not to love this series. And I was right. The series felt more tangible to me, because I experienced online, through its fandom, even before I read it.

Which brings me to my point… 

I believe that since we are so involved on the Internet – through book clubs, and bookstagram and blogs – we just experience books differently. When you can see your favorite characters come to life and when you see that so many people are genuinely excited and in love with this work of fiction, it rubs off on you. I think I started being way more involved and attached to books and characters after I discovered the online bookish community.

Especially as a teenager. It completely changed the way I approach books and the way I go into books and what I expect from them. I went into Six of Crows knowing about all the characters, their dynamics, how they worked, and I was already in that world, that I was bound to love the book. And that goes for a lot of books.

However, that doesn’t mean that I’ll like every book with a large fandom

There’s a lot of amazing stuff for all of Sarah J. Maas’ books. The fan art, the edits, the way people obsess over it, I was so in love with that fandom before I read the book. However, I really don’t like those books. Turns out I don’t even like the characters. However, my previous experience definitely affected how I felt about Throne of Glass, for example.

My previous experience heightens my feelings for a book

I found that through fandom and through online communities, my experience of a book and my feelings for the book are heightened. If I love a book, I’ll love it more fiercely if I was already in love with its fandom. But it goes the opposite way as well. I am going to hate the book more and be more disappointed if I don’t like it when I was already involved with its fandom.

I’ve spoken previously about hype and how it ruins books, and also how the bookish community changed my reading. And that’s exactly what fandoms do. They create hype, but in a more organic and pure way, and so naturally, that hype affects how I feel about the book.

How about you?

Did you have the same experience as I do? Do you feel that the things I spoke about make sense? I would love to hear your thoughts on the topic! Let me know!


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22 thoughts on “Discussion: How Fandom and Online Communities Changed the Way I Experience Books

  1. This is a wonderful discussion post! 🙂

    I agree completely with you on how if I love a book, immersing myself in the fandom, and fangirling about it with others, will make me love it even more, and how I can sometimes end up disliking a book much more passionately, after seeing others rant about it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think that’s interersting but I don’t feel like I’ve much more to add. I’m not the type who, in the end, engage that much with fandom. I’m trying to find a good balance of this in my social media but I never managed it.
    Anyway, while not being into the fandom groups I definitely get vibes of them and therefore of the novel. Like, I enter my dash and here they’re. So, I may build some expectation or great ideas about the novel. Sometimes hype plays a great part too

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think what you added is pretty valuable. I don’t think I am as involved in fandom (meaning other people directly) but I definitely look at fan art and theories and edits and that’s what sort of builds up a book in my head. Hype definitely can (but doesn’t always) play a big role in how we feel about a book.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This is a really cool post idea! And so true! Before I was on social media, I didn’t get nearly as attached to the book jars Tera I was reading about.


  4. I absolutely agree. I used to re-read the same books from back when I was a child, but after getting into the book community, I’m already hyping myself up to love books I haven’t even read. Which I personally think had a negative influence on my ability to form organic opinions…I mean, I know just how much I loathe Sarah J. Maas’ books, but people gushing over them makes me confused at times about whether my opinion is nuts. 😂 Of course, I’ve gotten over this by now, but I do actively avoid fandoms I haven’t dabbled in if I can help it. 😉 Great discussion!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I totally see what you mean about your opinions not being organic. I find myself wanting to reread books I disliked a lot just because I can’t believe everyone likes them so much 😂 It’s definitely a double edged sword in my opinion. Thank you so much!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. My mind is blown. This is exactly the same thing that happens to me, but I didn’t realize it until you said it. I still haven’t read the Raven Cycle, but when I see people fangirl over Gansey, I start getting excited too. I never thought about it before, but it’s because of the hype for those books that I feel like I am included in the fandom even before I picked it up. I think the fandom is what makes me excited for a book and most of the time it makes me like the book more but sometimes (like with the Cruel Prince), I expect too much from the book and then I am disappointed.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s exactly it. I hope you have the same experience with the Raven Cycle as I did – loved the fandom and now it’s my favorite series ever. And yeah, it goes both ways. Sad you didn’t enjoy The Cruel Prince as much – I am so hyped to read that one, mostly because of the gorgeous fan art haha

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I do agree with you on this! For me, if people I know, and whose tastes I trust, love a certain book I know I’m bound to love it as well! I think it’s with the way a fandom can bring the characters alive through fanart, fanfiction, and even theories! It’s like meeting a person, you know? This was such a great read!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I only really belong to two fandoms: the Harry Potter one and the Supernatural one. Being a part of the HP fandom has changed my way of thinking on certain characters. I used to love Snape and thought he was so amazing. But now, I realize how horrible he actually was and how incredibly problematic he is.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Oh man…I was definitely a re-reader! I’m still known for it…but the book community and Goodreads have helped me slowly expand my reading choices. Though I’m a booklover, I’m very picky on content…I feel like a book snob ha-ha! And the “I was attached even before I read the book” comment….SO TRUE! I felt like that with “The Red Queen” series and I feel like that going into “Six of Crows”. It’s a pretty surreal feeling! Great post love!

    Liked by 1 person

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