Our big Reading Group Survey: We asked, you answered!

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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:

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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.

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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.”

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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%).

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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.”

Get involved

If you haven’t joined Reading Groups for Everyone yet, or need to register your group, then sign up now.

Already a member? Take a look at our Noticeboard now for the latest fantastic reading group offers.

Read the full report here.

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YMCA Reading Group in Norwich – winners of our prize hamper!


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Keeping your reading group active while social distancing

Are you wondering how your reading group can continue to meet, even while you’re social distancing? With many people at home with family, flatmates or on their own, we know that books are so important to provide comfort, solace and escapism. Staying socially connected, and keeping your regular reading group meetings in your diary, is going to be very important in keeping up morale and supporting everyone’s mental health as we adjust to a new way of living.

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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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