Last year we invited reading groups nationwide to take part in our big survey. We wanted to know more about who you are, what you read and what books make you tick. We had an amazing response – over 1500 of you took part – and we learned much more about why people join reading groups and what it means to be part of one.
You can read the full report, or see our key findings below.
The Most Popular Reading Group Books
We asked for your favourite books and best discussions, not surprisingly there was quite a difference between the books you enjoyed personally, and the ones that made the best group read. The top 10 reading group titles, as chosen by you, are as follows:
- To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
- Elizabeth is Missing – Emma Healey
- We Need to Talk About Kevin – Lionel Shriver
- The Book Thief – Markus Zusak
- The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society – Annie Barrows and Mary Ann Shaffer
- The Miniaturist – Jessie Burton
- A Thousand Splendid Suns – Khaled Hosseini
- The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry – Rachel Joyce
- The Goldfinch – Donna Tartt
- The Help – Kathryn Stockett
The Houghton Book Group in Cumbria
We found that a huge number of groups agreed that being a member of a reading group makes you happier, widens your reading habits and helps you enjoy books even more:
- 95% of respondents reported that members feel happy being part of the group
- 94% feel that being part of a reading group results in members reading more widely
- 80% said members enjoy what they are reading more when they discuss it with the group
Some group members said they had found support and friendship within reading groups designed specially to meet their needs, such as visual impairments or mental health diagnoses. Others said being part of a group had helped them rediscover reading for pleasure, led to long-term friendships or helped them work through a challenging period in their life.
One reading group member said: “I went through a very difficult time just after my second child was born… Another mother came up to me and asked if I’d like to join a book-club that was just beginning and I took the plunge and said yes. Ironically, the first book we read was We Need to Talk About Kevin! It was definitely a life-changing moment for me… I believe passionately in the power of books but I believe fundamentally in the power of talking and including. A social group, like a book club, has the power to lift, involve and welcome a person who may be feeling isolated or unhappy.”
Our research shows friends and word of mouth are most likely to influence the books chosen by groups, while two thirds also use book reviews (66%) and over half (58%) use book prize shortlists and winners. Libraries play a key role too: many of you commented that the books you chose came from library reading lists or were recommended by a librarian. Libraries were the second most popular meeting place for groups (23%) after group members’ houses (43%).
The DHSB Book Group in Plymouth
Karen Brodie, Head of Publisher Partnerships at The Reading Agency, said: “Reading is not just a solitary activity; sharing it with others can give us different perspectives and open our eyes to new genres and writers. This research shows that being part of a reading group brings numerous benefits and I was particularly interested to see that groups choose such a wide range of titles, focusing on those which stimulate discussion and debate.”
If you haven’t joined Reading Groups for Everyone yet, or need to register your group, then sign up now.
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YMCA Reading Group in Norwich – winners of our prize hamper!