Emma Watson Kicks Off New Feminist Book Club With Gloria Steinem’s Memoir

The actor selected the activist’s ‘My Life on the Road’ as the group’s first text.
(Photos: Juan Naharro Gimenez/Getty Images; Robin Marchant/Getty Images)
Jan 8, 2016· 1 MIN READ
Culture and education editor Liz Dwyer has written about race, parenting, and social justice for several national publications. She was previously education editor at Good.

There’s a new book club for the Harry Potter generation, but it’s not focused on tales of battling wizards and witches. Instead, Emma Watson, who portrayed Hermoine Granger in the film series, is using her experience as a U.N. Women goodwill ambassador to encourage people to read about a much more real-world topic: gender equality.

On Thursday evening, the actor and director launched her new book club, My Shared Shelf, on the literature platform Goodreads. Every book the club reads will focus on feminism. The first selection is My Life on the Road, the best-selling memoir released in October by legendary activist Gloria Steinem.

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In a post on Goodreads, Watson detailed what inspired her to start My Shared Shelf. “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!” she wrote. “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.”

To participate in the club, folks must have a Goodreads account and either buy or borrow the monthly selection. On Friday morning, Watson posted a message on the platform sharing that she had obtained her copy of My Life on the Road and is “reading it with a pen in hand so I can do some underlining and margin writing.”

The idea for the book club seems to have evolved rapidly. Watson first announced her intention to start the group on Twitter on Wednesday, when she tweeted a request for name suggestions. “I want to start a feminist book club but so far have only brainstormed ‘Feminist Book Club’ and ‘Emma Watson Book Club,’ ” she posted.

Her call for suggestions was retweeted nearly 7,000 times and favorited about 22,000 times. Actor Sophia Bush, soccer star Abby Wambach, and singer-songwriter Kate Voegele quickly responded with tweets of support.

Name recommendations poured in—“Hermoine’s Army” and “F ‘Emma’ nists Reads” were somehow rejected. Twitter user Emily Fabb suggested the club’s name on Wednesday.

Although Watson will contribute to the conversation, she hopes the dialogue among members will grow organically. “I will post some questions/quotes to get things started, but I would love for this to grow into an open discussion with and between you all,” she wrote. She also hopes to “have the author, or another prominent voice on the subject, join the conversation.”

Steinem seems like she’s down for that. The activist responded enthusiastically to the creation of the club—and suggested that the discussion of My Life on the Road go beyond Goodreads. “After we do this digitally we’ll have to do this in person!” Steinem tweeted to Watson, Bush, and Wambach on Thursday.