How women invented book clubs, revolutionizing reading and their own lives

By Jess McHugh for washingtonpost.com

The women met wherever they could get their hands on a few books and some quiet: in empty classrooms, backrooms of bookstores, at friends’ homes, even while working in mills.

In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, the first American reading circles — a precursor to book clubs — required little more than a thirst for literature and a desire to discuss it with like-minded women.

Journalist Margaret Fuller held one session of what she called her “conversations” in 1839, likely in a friend’s rented room on Chauncey Place, a few blocks from Boston Common.

Fuller — the first American female war correspondent, a magazine editor and an all-around feminist renegade — saw her club as anything but a substitute for embroidery. Instead, she rallied women who were, as she wrote: “desirous to answer the great questions. What were we born to do? How shall we do it?”

Read more here.

Help your child learn to read with Reading Kingdom. Sign up today for a free 30 day trial.