I don’t know if anyone else has experienced this lately, but it seems like everywhere I turn, I bump into another book group. I’m a member of one myself, and have been for several years. I’m not quite sure how it started, but it was certainly on the go before I joined, when I was invited in by one of the Anson Mums, and I enthusiastically agreed. We’ve been meeting on a more or less monthly basis, since I joined, for about 5 years, and we’ve read a huge number of books together, ranging from a non-fiction travel book by Sara Wheeler, through classics like Mapp and Lucia, and taking in some excellent books in translation that, frankly, I would never have tried had they not been suggested by another member of the group.
The first recorded reading groups were among women working in factories in the nineteenth century. The current movement gained momentum in the 1980s, becoming mainstream with the launch of Oprah’s Book Group and making it onto UK TV courtesy of Richard and Judy in 2004. And now, according to research undertaken a few years ago, there are tens of thousands of groups meeting regularly in the UK reading everything from literary classics to technical manuals! Celebrity recommendations can be life-changing for authors – the Richard and Judy/Oprah effect was a huge factor in propelling sales of 2012’s Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn into the 8m copy-plus bracket. (Tip – you don’t have to be female to be in a book group – blokes can join/start one too!).
It’s common for libraries nowadays to run book groups, and we hope that Cricklewood Library, when it opens, will join those ranks. In the meantime, if you’d like to get a book group going and all you need are like-minded readers, we can help you find them. Drop us a line on our address and we’ll link you up with others who’re keen to get reading socially as well. It can be a lot of fun – sometimes we joke that our group is more about the wine and snacks than the literary chat, but you can run yours in a more (or less!) highbrow way if you want.
There are even children’s book groups nowadays, and we’ll be back with another post shortly on this phenomenon and other tips on getting your kids enthused about reading.
For suggestions on choosing your first book, why not head over to Love Reading or Good Reads for some inspiration? I’ve shared our reading list on Good Reads in the footer of this message so you can see what’s in our cupboards, so to speak.
Good luck and happy reading!