National Reading Group Day 2018

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National Reading Group Day, which we run in partnership with the Booksellers Association, is a celebration of reading groups throughout the country and the positive effect these groups have on their members. It marks the start of Independent Booksellers Week.

This year, National Reading Group Day will take place on 16 June, and to celebrate we want you to tell us about the books you have read that caused an emotional reaction – the books that made you laugh or cry (or maybe both). We know that books with an emotional impact are often the ones you remember most, and that the reactions might differ throughout the group! Is there a book that made you laugh out loud, while the rest of your group didn’t crack a smile? Or were you left dry-eyed when others member were in floods of tears?

Send us your recommendations by completing a quick survey, and in next month’s Reading Groups newsletter, we’ll share our final list of the best Books to Make You Laugh and Cry.

Need inspiration sooner? Last year for National Reading Group Day we asked for the most divisive reads in your groups – take a look at our Marmite Reads now.

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I love books that make me laugh and cry, as well as raising uncomfortable questions. The Maid’s Room by Fiona Mitchell is one such book. It centres around Filipina maids working for a pittance in Singapore, while looking after the children of wealthy expats. There are funny moments but the novel has a darker heart, examining exploitation and featuring episodes that fit right into the #MeToo movement. It’s a story about modern-day slavery, and explosive fodder for book group debate.

The other book I loved that was dotted with humour and dug deep emotionally was Francesca Jakobi’s Bitter. It centres on Gilda, a prickly snob, so confounded by her son’s choice of wife that she ends up infiltrating their lives in increasingly crazy ways - it’s funny, unsettling, and deeply sad, but it’s uplifting too.


A book group memory

Whitegrove Library bookgroup has many members (over 20!) at a variety of ages, employment, gender and interest but science fiction wasn’t their thing! I love science fiction! In 2013 I wanted to tell them about Wool by Hugh Howey, a short story, self-published that had gradually expanded into a novel and then after huge success had gained a publishing deal. My reading group friends wouldn’t be interested, though, because it’s science fiction! Then to my surprise, Huw our librarian and leader, handed out Wool split into the five short books as it was originally published on line. We had won the chance to read and review this imaginatively presented set of books. It was nerve wracking returning the next month to see what people thought. I opened the meeting saying welcome to the world of science fiction. You can’t just expect a story to be set on Earth or be about humans. You have to discover where you are, when you are and what you are! Thankfully the entire group, except one, loved it. Even I admit the story slows down at one point and it was here that he lost interest but on hearing how everyone else raved over it he vowed never to give up on a book again. And he hasn’t even when it was science fiction again “Spaceman of Bohemia” and we met an alien who likes Nutella or adult fantasy getting physical with fairies. You can never tell what you are going to find as you delve deeper into a book. (Nicola, Whitegrove Library Book Club).

I would nominate The One in a Million Boy by Monica Wood, poignant and funny in equal measure. (Richard, Whitegrove Library Book Club).


Suggestions for National Poetry Day 2019

National Poetry Day generates an explosion of activity nationwide, thousands of amazing events across the UK – in schools, libraries, bookshops and hospitals, on buses, trains and boats – all celebrating poetry’s power to bring people together. 2019 is the 25th anniversary of National Poetry Day – expect the celebrations to run all year long.

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How to start a reading group

Interested in joining a reading group or starting one of your own? Download our quick guide to getting started.

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Hive and The Reading Agency

The Reading Agency loves books, in every form, and we know you do too. We love it when people borrow books in every format from their brilliant local libraries. We love it when reading groups get exclusive free proofs from our publisher partners. We love it when readers pick up a pre-loved book from a second-hand bookshop for a song. And we also love it when you buy yourself or someone else a brand new book from a high street bookshop. We also know that buying online is quick and convenient...

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