Fiction Uncovered Reading Groups 2013

This year for Fiction Uncovered 2013, we have been working with eight reading groups from across the UK. The groups have been selected to represent the regions of the UK as well as the homes of our selected authors. Reviews will be coming in soon from each of the clubs which will be posted up on here and on the review section of the website!

Portaferry Library Reading Group from Kircubbin in Northern Ireland reading Lucy Caldwell All The Beggars Riding

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“Portaferry Women’s Group was set up in the village several years ago to run community based activities for women, such as pilates and other activity classes. At their AGM of four years ago, one of the members, a librarian from a neighbouring town, suggested the idea of setting up a reading group. With enthusiastic support from the local library, Portaferry Reading Group was born, attracting initially 9 members. The first book read was “Hiding from the Light” by Barbara Erskine, which resulted in a most entertaining discussion with one member convinced she was being haunted by cats after reading the book! Although the Women’s Group became defunct some time ago, the reading group has gone from strength to strength and we now have 22 members, with usually between 10 and 12 people attending each session. Most of us are women, although we have one gentleman member who is the husband of one of the founder members. The group meets monthly at Portaferry library on the last Monday evening of the month.

We all suggest books to read and also gather book ideas from the Internet reading groups and other online fora. The library service has been very supportive both in ordering books for us, which keeps costs for individual members low, and in allowing us to use the library for our meetings, never mind the tea, coffee and great biscuits!  For the past 2 years, all members have been asked to give a score out of 10 for their enjoyment of the books read which allows us to have a fun comparison of which books were rated the best. Our long standing best read is Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” which scored an average of 9.6 (out of ten). Three books so far have the distinction of having the widest range of scores where members scored them anywhere from 0 to 10! These were: “Fat lad” by Glenn Patterson, “The Russian Concubine” by Kate Furnivall and “The Picture of Dorian Gray” by Oscar Wilde. Over the past six months we have started to suggest two different books most months and members can choose whether they read both or just one.

Our members look forward to the meetings and everyone has commented that the group has encouraged them to read books they would not otherwise have bothered to read. Portaferry Reading group is certainly flourishing and we look forward to promoting our love of reading and providing an oasis of literary (and sometimes other!) discussion for people in the village and the surrounding area for many years to come.”

Read Portaferry Reading Group’s review of All The Beggars Riding

Books in the Bath from Sheffield reading Amy Sackville Orkney

“We meet in a pub called the Bath (hence our name Books in the Bath) every six weeks or so and usually read two books for each meeting. The group was started about 11 years ago by some librarians from Sheffield Libraries. Quite a few of the original members still attend the group, and although other people have come and gone over the years, we are now all librarians or ex librarians. We’re exclusively female and the group is very social. We often meet for a meal before the meeting. Gossip and catching up on each other’s lives can take up as much time as talking about the books!”

Read Books in the Bath Reading Group’s review of Orkney

Ab-Fab Professors from Plymouth reading Nell Leyshon The Colour of Milk

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“The Ab-Fab Professors bookclub started in October 2010 when our partners and non-booky friends started to complain that we dominated every social gathering with booktalk. One long, dark winter we decided to launch a small, intimate bookclub. We are a group of 7 women in our forties who have known each other, on and off, for 35 years! We meet monthly and take in turns to host the evening in our own homes; kids, work and life all have to fit around our bookclub evening. Although the book discussion is central to the evening, we all enjoy the food and wine as well as the opportunity to catch up on news.  Friendships have become stronger and the standard of literary debate has improved over the years. We get our monthly books through the Plymouth City Libraries’ book club service, although we often receive others to review from ‘The Reading Agency’ or straight from the publishers. We try to read different styles of books to widen our interests and appeal to everyone. Authors we have read include; John Steinbeck, Sophie Hannah, Peter Benson (2012 Fiction Uncovered title), Philippa Gregory, Nathan Filer, F. Scott Fitzgerald and many more.

Our selected book for 2013 Fiction Uncovered is ‘The Colour of Milk’ by Nell Leyshon. This looks like it’ll provide plenty of discussion areas for our next book club and are all looking forward to a lively debate.”

Read the Ab-Fab Professors review of The Colour of Milk

Herstmonceux Book Group from Herstmonceux reading Niven Govinden, Black Bread White Beer

“We are Sussex village-based book lovers who needed an excuse to read more, share thoughts and socialise regularly. About ten women in number, we have a broad mixture of backgrounds and interests, in our 50/60s —– so some retired and reading more , whilst others are still on the work  treadmill. The group has existed for about 15 years and still has some original members although membership has evolved, with new members replacing those opting out due to work commitments or moving away.

We meet monthly, taking turns to host at home in the evening, and we enjoy a wide range of genres from contemporary fiction to classics, biography and non-fiction.  We often use the local library’s  book sets but also very happily read any complimentary copies or books given to review.  Our tastes are very eclectic and have been expanded too, due to the varied nature of our reading.

We also enjoy visiting the local Charleston Literary Festival (with accompanying picnic) and have an annual Xmas meal to choose our own Book of the Year.  We have organised meet-ups with other local book groups for the last couple of years to compare notes and gain ideas.  Our most recent Bash includes authors, librarians and booksellers as well as musicians. This looks set to be an annual event, based in an old oak wedding barn and bringing local booklovers and book group members from the whole area together.”

Read Herstmonceux Book Group’s review of Black Bread White Beer

West End Book Group from Hailsham reading Rupert Thomson, Secrecy

“West End Book Club has been meeting up for the last 6 years or so there are about 10 regular members in our group and we are made up of friends or friends of friends.  Our age group in between 30-51.  We meet up in each others houses about once every 4-5 weeks our meetings are very social and wine and nibbles are always involved!  Some of our members use Kindles etc. now but most seem to agree they still like to hold and feel a book in their hands.

All the members come up with titles they think would be good to read and we give a list to the library and then wait and see which title they have managed to get copies of together for us.

We all enjoy the challenge of reading something that we would not normally be drawn to and it is interesting the different views we have. We have set up a group on Facebook so we keep in touch via this. We normally go out a couple of times a year as a group purely for a social occasion and the photo attached is from Christmas 2012.”

Read the West End Book Group’s review of Secrecy

Wartling Reading Group from Wartling reading James Meek, The Heart Broke In

“Wartling book group was started around 6 years ago by myself Emma Holmes.It is n opportunity for us rural types to get together around every 6 weeks to discuss literature, the universe and everything in between!
our little group is made up of a farmer, an opera singer, a shopkeeper, an editor, a baker and an artist to name a few. The numbers fluctuate when people move in and out of Wartling but there’s usually around 12 of us. We choose the books by asking if anyone has ideas? We used to take it in turns but it got a bit competitive and highbrow. We know meet at the local pub, we don’t score the books, but we do discuss them in detail. People are not hung , drawn and quartered if they didn’t read the book-reading should always be a pleasure not a chore!”

Hellingley Reading Group from Hellingley reading Anthony Cartwright, How I Killed Margaret Thatcher

Hellingly Book Group will be ten years old next February.

photoAt present we have eight members, though the numbers have been larger and smaller over the years. We meet once a month in each others homes. We all live in or around the village of Hellingly, in East Sussex, and in summer it’s nice to walk or cycle to a meeting. We use the excellent service provided by our local library so choose books from their list of sets available to book groups. We take it in turns to research the author, and do our best to let everyone get a word in. Needless to say, there are often several people talking at once, and not always about the book! The atmosphere is very friendly and informal, and there is only one rule: no competitive catering! The person hosting the meeting can offer a drink and something out of a packet, no effort required. Everyone agrees that one of the best things about belonging to a book group is that it introduces you to authors you might not otherwise try.

Read the Hellingly Reading Group’s review of How I Killed Margaret Thatcher.

Rhosgadfen Book Club from Nr Caernarfon reading Nikita Lalwani, The Village

Rhosgadfen Book Group

“There are seven of us in our Book Club, aged between about 59 and 72!  All girls!  We have been meeting once a month to discuss our Book of the month and other things we have read at our village Post Office – in the Social Club building – the only public building in the village!

We all wanted to widen our experiences in literature and have shared modern and classical novels, with varied excitement.  At the end of the meeting we rate a book with marks out of ten, based on  how much we enjoyed it and how well written we felt it to be.  We do not write down the comments – that would take too long!  But we have kept a list.  Several people who joined at first, nearly two years ago, dropped out , mostly because the only liked to read a particular genre.  We stalwarts like variety and don’t mind saying what we don’t like about a book especially if we have struggled to get to the end…”

Read Rhosgadfen Book Club’s review of The Village