At The Reading Agency, we tackle life’s big challenges through the proven power of reading. Evidence shows that reading is a great social connector bringing individuals and communities together to share stories. What better proof of this than the popularity and growth of reading groups? It’s amazing how many of us are in a reading group. There are groups with colleagues, friends, family, neighbours – no matter who makes up the group, there is one thing in common: they bring people together. We run Reading Groups for Everyone, the UK’s largest network of reading groups, hosting 5,000 groups and giving the public a space to find a group to join. There’s huge variation among the groups, from library-based groups to groups of friends who meet in homes or pubs. Some are genre-specific, but many are open to new discoveries.
A couple of weeks ago on The Bookseller, Alice Jolly wrote that there’s a lot that we don’t know about reading groups. She’s right – because there is so much variety, we can’t assume what they like; what their interests are and what book is right for them. Each reading group and each member within it has their own story and their own interests. We’re currently gathering these stories – we want to know what groups read, why the group started and the impact that being in the group has on its members, in particular on their reading habits, wellbeing and understanding of other people. If you’re part of a reading group, or if you know someone who is, help us find out more and tell your story by filling in our short survey.
Alice was also right about the exciting partnership potential reading groups offer the book world. Through our Reading Partners programme, we work with publishers, big and small, and other partners including the Radio 2 Book Club, National Poetry Day, the Booker Prizes and the Women’s Prize for Fiction, to connect them with libraries and reading groups across the UK. This partnership gives them unique access direct to readers; plus opportunities to offer bespoke book promotions, gather reviews, and introduce authors via in-person meetings or video calls. They can run focus groups, use readers’ opinions to inform their marketing campaigns and even get opinions on jacket design and provide quotes. We know the power of word-of-mouth recommendations, and through directly offering both proofs and published books to reading groups, we provide publishers with a way to reach an engaged and enthusiastic ready-made audience.
As people search for meaningful ways to connect with others at the moment, reading groups (like many other things in our lives) have moved online. Many have done this easily and naturally, and for others we’ve provided suggestions in our Hub with different ways they can stay connected. There’s no slowing down for reading groups; they want to read, they want to talk, and they want to be involved in the creative process.
Are you part of a reading group? Share your reading group story with The Reading Agency and be entered to win a luxury book hamper.