Are you a member of a reading group? I know thousand are throughout the country, and this type of group or book club can be a great source of friendships and interest.
The Reading Group is a website which helps such groups and clubs by offering help and guidance to set up a group and gives support and recommendations to established ones.
Recent research, conducted via The Reading Agency’s Reading Groups for Everyone network investigates how reading groups are run, which books are selected and the impact of being a reading group member. The responses, from members of the network as well as others who run or take part in reading groups, show that they can bring numerous benefits, from broadening members’ reading habits to providing them with a support network.
They have released key findings from the survey which include:
- 95% of respondents reported that members feel happy because of 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 respondents 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.
The research shows friends and word of mouth are most likely to influence the books chosen by the 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 respondents commented that the books they chose came from library reading lists or were recommended by their librarian. Libraries were the second most popular meeting place for groups (23%) after group members’ houses (43%).
Although 95% of the groups read fiction, many also read non-fiction (66%). Smaller but still substantial numbers of groups read short stories (45%) and poems (23%). The ten most popular titles were as follows:
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.”
The Reading Agency will use the findings of the survey to develop the Reading Groups for Everyone network and website, strengthening relationships between reading groups and publishers. Tips and case studies from the survey will be used to support existing groups in the network and encourage even more people to set up new ones.
Reading Groups for Everyone is the UK’s largest reading group network. Anyone who is in a reading group or interested in setting one up can sign up at www.readinggroups.org to discover recommended reads, get free books to read and review and enter competitions to meet authors.
The ten most popular books chosen by groups:
- 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
Have you read any of these books? Can you recommend others that you may have read in your book club? Who chooses the books? Let us know about your experiences.