Reading, Sharing, Planning: Think Day at The Reader

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Putting our collective Reader brains together on another big Think Day get-together at our Reader HQ at Calderstones Park.

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Introducing our Oxford World’s Classics library

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To celebrate our new partnership with Oxford University Press we have a Reader Story from a group enjoying one of our new Oxford World’s Classics.

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Introducing our Oxford World’s Classics library

chronic-pain-group-oup

To celebrate our new partnership with Oxford University Press we have a Reader Story from a group enjoying one of our new Oxford World’s Classics.

Continue reading “Introducing our Oxford World’s Classics library”

Announcing an exciting new partnership with Oxford University Press

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We’re delighted to introduce our brand new partners, OUP!

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The Reader 60

Reader 60 coverThe first issue of The Reader in 2016 is here and it’s a very special one indeed as it heralds our sixtieth edition. There are plenty of diamonds to be found inside Issue 60, ranging from the brand new to the nostalgic, and the inclusion of our One -Pagers’ – the raw, powerful and punchy moments from works of literature that make us feel alive and which we often turn to at times in need of affirmation.

‘We seek the ‘lines of life’. When readers tear from books the words that suddenly matter to them, that is their own pre-poem, the beginning of their work as receivers and transmitters of suddenly felt meaning. Reader writers: apply within.’ – The Reader Writers, Philip Davis

You’ll still find plenty of broader content within Issue 60, including new poetry from Carol Rumens, Julie-ann Rowell, Claire Allen and Vidyan Ravinthiran. The big themes of change and the future – still on many a mind as the year is fresh – feature in Gill Blow‘s story ‘Ladies of the Soil’, and Raymond Tallis seeks perspective on life from the imagined vantage of his future death in an extract from his new book The Black Mirror.

Sitting alongside future thoughts are frequent glances back towards the past, as we republish poems by Les Murray and U.A. Fanthorpe from our earliest issues, and revisit our childhoods while keeping feet firmly in the present day as we talk to Jason Hazeley and Joel Morris, co-writers of the hugely popular Ladybird Books for grown-ups. Our second interview visits photographer Tim Booth, who talks about his stunning collection A Show of Hands – a collection of portraits of hands.

Marjorie Lotfi Gill features in The Poet on Her Work, turning distance that feels like helplessness into clarity as she writes on the subject of gun violence. Charlie Darby-Villis writes about reading poetry in a high security prison, and the poet David Constantine responds with his own recollection of visiting HMP Low Newton. More on the particular power reading can offer come from pieces by Drummond Bone, Ben Davis, David Abrahamson and Claire Sive.

All this alongside our Regulars and Recommendations – there’s much to celebrate in our latest milestone.

If you’re keen to make a literary resolution for the year ahead, yearly subscriptions to The Reader begin from £24, offering four issues of the magazine. You can also purchase your copy of Issue 60 for the price of £6.95. There’s the chance of winning a full set of the Ladybird Books for grown-ups within the issue, so don’t delay in ordering!

For more on The Reader, see our website.

 

‘O tell me the truth about love…’: A Little, Aloud with Love hits the shelves

A Little Aloud With Love tpbGood news for lovers everywhere – the latest addition to our A Little, Aloud series is published today, with a distinctly romantic flavour just ahead of Valentine’s Day…

A Little Aloud with Love brings together some of the most popular works in the English language, celebrating love in all its forms: that heady first flush, the agony of heartbreak, joyful reunions, the love of a parent for a child… and what better way to share these beautiful pieces than to read them aloud, to that special someone? The anthology features both classic and contemporary selections to warm the heart, from Robert Browning to the Brontes, Shelley to Shakespeare, W.B. Yeats to W.H. Auden, bringing us right up to date with modern takes on love from authors such as Haruki Murakami, Margaret Atwood and David Constantine.

Delving into the passionately pink cover, you’ll find that the collection is divided up into sections so that there’s a poem or story to suit any occasion and reading partner. Read:

  • ‘Our places by the fire place’ to a parent
  • ‘My love is come to me’ to a partner
  • ‘Most near, most dear’ to a child
  • ‘A need to reach out sometimes’ to a friend.

What’s more, each section is paired with observations, questions and connections made by our Shared Reading group members from across the country, allowing readers to become part of a bigger discussion. Sometimes the insights are humorous, others speak of deeper emotions. All are entirely personal responses to reading literature about love, prompted only by the poems and stories themselves:

‘Her name was Ruth and I was mad about her for two years and never plucked up the courage to even speak to her,’ said a man in a nursing-home reading group. 

Someone else wondered if the poet would still be passionate after twenty years of marriage. ‘Never mind the poems, she’ll be lucky then if she gets a bunch of garage flowers on their anniversary.’

Research has shown that being read to can help to make us healthier and happier, enriching our hearts as well as our minds, and A Little, Aloud with Love is bursting with literature to lift the spirits. Even better is the news that the publisher Chatto & Windus is donating all royalties from A Little, Aloud with Love to The Reader, so by buying a copy you’ll be supporting our work running Shared Reading groups across the UK – enough to give anyone a warm fuzzy feeling inside.

Penny Readings 2015: Northern powerhouses, Astounding Broccoli Boys and Dickensian cheer

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Maxine Peake on stage at the Penny Readings 2015 (credit: @CaroRowland on Twitter)

Last night, St George’s Hall in Liverpool was full to the brim with festive spirit as the Penny Readings 2015 took place. For just over two hours, the glittering Concert Room – which Charles Dickens himself deemed as “the finest room in the world for reading” when he read on the very same stage – saw the sell-out show wow the audience with seasonal literature, music and entertainment, all for the price of just one penny a ticket.

Our star readers came in the form of ‘Northern powerhouses’ Maxine Peake and Shaun Evans, delighting and moving us in equal measure with their choice of readings. We were treated to a double helping of D.H. Lawrence with extracts from Sons and Lovers and The Rainbow, perfectly brought to life by Maxine’s dulcet tones, with her take on the Morel’s family Christmas awaiting the arrival of eldest son William back from London rightly called ‘captivating‘ by one of our many audience members – a feeling that was surely shared by the whole room. The Dickensian spirit of the Penny Readings was in full effect with Shaun’s piece from David Copperfield, which saw the title character in particularly high spirits, and his characterful reading of the ‘devilish good fellow’ brought frequent gales of laughter from the crowd. Maxine ended with a poignant Christmas piece – The Oxen by Thomas Hardy – although arguably her most challenging role of the evening came when she was called upon to draw the famous Reader Raffle, which had some incredible prizes on offer including a Kiehl’s gift-set, tickets to The Alice Experience and The Beatles Story, hampers from Asda and LEAF, Independent Liverpool cards and a signed authenticated picture of Liverpool FC midfielder Phillipe Coutinho!

Shaun Evans reading from Dickens (credit: @Sbarber5bp on Twitter)
Shaun Evans reading from Dickens (credit: @Sbarber5bp on Twitter)

Another memorable performance came from the ever-entertaining Frank Cottrell Boyce, who read from his latest hit novel The Astounding Broccoli Boy after regaling us with tales from his schooldays and in particular the case of a nun who may or may not have been concealing a Dalek status…Frank also pleased the crowds by signing copies of the book in the foyer afterwards. Angie MacMillan treated us to an exclusive preview of the latest in the A Little, Aloud series – A Little, Aloud With Love, due to be published in early 2016, and the Christmas cheer was brought back into proceedings with special guests Adele, Madison and Josh from Norman Pannell Primary School telling us the story of How The Grinch Stole Christmas. As ever, Phil Davis invoked the festive spirit with the traditional reading from A Christmas Carol, bringing the scene from the Cratchits’ dinner table to life.

Musical interludes were brought courtesy of The Ukulele Uff & Lonesome Dave Trio with their set of singalong classics including the love song for insects Never Swat A Fly and Irving Berlin’s Blue Skies, the super-talented piano player – and composer! – Evie Gill-Hannan, and the AINE Gospel Choir, finalists from the BBC Songs of Praise Gospel Choir of the Year 2014, who led the whole cast and crowd in a soulful rendition of Lean On Me to bring this year’s proceedings to a rousing close.

It was a real compliment for our supporters Publiship to call this year’s show the ‘Best Penny Readings ever’ and the #PennyReadings hashtag on Twitter was full of similar highlights from those in attendance:

Absolutely loved our first at . Thanks for organising a great evening! 🙂

all sounding/looking beautiful for the magical

Loved listening to made me laugh and nearly cry at end of reading…

Thanks and for a fab night.

Shaun Evans and Maxine Peake backstage with staff from Whitefield Primary School
Shaun Evans and Maxine Peake backstage with staff from Whitefield Primary School

With so much festivity and goodwill in abundance, we like to think that Dickens would be proud.

All that is left to say is a massive thank you to all of our performers, supporters, stall holders including News From Nowhere, Royden Revolve Rotary Club and The Reader Cafe, staff members and everyone in attendance for making the Penny Readings 2015 so memorable. Here’s to next year! In the meantime, to borrow a phrase or two from Bob Cratchit:

“A merry Christmas to us all, my dears. God bless us!”

Russia Reads Aloud

war and peace coverAnyone who has taken on the challenge of reading War and Peace will know that it’s quite the literary endeavour, and it is with admiration and amazement that we heard about a marathon four-day public reading of Tolstoy’s classic across Russia that has been happening this week.

Led and coordinated by Tolstoy’s great-great-granddaughter Fekla Tolstaya, the reading began on Tuesday morning and by its conclusion at the end of today will have involved over 1,300 people in more than 30 cities across the country, and will have reached even more both nationally and worldwide as the readings are being streamed by the Russian state television channel Kultura and online.

The collection of readings were characterised by their democratic nature, with more than 6,000 people applying to be part in the 60 hour collective. Everyone from schoolchildren and professors to politicians and library-goers have been involved, reading a two-to-three minute excerpt from the novel each. With more than half a million words to cover, that’s a lot of readers on board!

“For me it shows how we are all equal when we speak about literature, when we speak about books – everyone can find something for themselves in this book,” says Fekla. “People argue with each other when they speak about politics, [but] culture, our cultural heritage, great Russian literature – this is the place where we all unite.”

The marathon reading is out of this world – and we can say that quite literally, as cosmonaut Sergei Volkov is taking part reading his extract from the International Space Station.

Public reading of great pieces of literature have seen a revival recently, in the UK as well as abroad. This summer, the Almeida Theatre and British Museum brought over sixty actors and artists together to read The Iliad to audiences that totalled 50,000 across the world, following it up with a similar reading of The Odyssey last month. Herman Melville’s classic Moby Dick was also performed in its entirety by writers, actors, comedians and members of the public at the Southbank Centre – and similarly to the reading of War and Peace, involved Herman Melville’s great-great-granddaughter. With this year’s Penny Readings taking place this weekend – with Maxine Peake and Shaun Evans appearing as star readers – as well as our Shared Reading groups happening across the country each week, it’s great to know that we’re in such good company.

Perhaps 2016 will see yet more marathon reading attempts? We’ve read quite a few lengthy novels in our Shared Reading groups including Dombey and Son by Charles Dickens and Tolstoy’s other epic, Anna Kareninacould one of them be next? If anyone involved in the War and Peace reading over in Russia wants to get in touch with us, please do – and together we’ll lead a global read aloud fashion!

The Reader 59

Reader 59 cover-1In need of something to bring a warm glow into the lengthening Autumn nights? The latest issue of The Reader is here to offer a wealth of new fiction and poetry, alongside a range of illuminating essays and thought pieces – and the bright cover artwork by Michael Troy is sure not to get lost amongst the gloom.

In Issue 59, you’ll find new work from two big names and returning contributors to The Reader. Blake Morrison introduces his poetry collection, Shingle Street, and the profoundly moving first chapter of The Life-Writer by David Constantine offers an enticing insight into the new novel from the author of In Another Country, the inspiration for the recent award-winning film 45 Years.

The Poet on His Work features Jonathan Edwards and his poem Song, where the low culture – ‘the earthy, the musical, the ordinary, the real’ – sits alongside the poetic:

“This poem took ten years to write. It took a few hours. I’m not the first boy in the history of the world to write a poem about a girl.” – Jonathan Edwards on Song

Marjorie Lofti Gill, Ian Tromp and Mary Maher complete the poetry line-up.

Dr Steve Mowle, a partner at Hetherington Family Practice and Associate Director for GP Education for Inner South West London, talks to Fiona Magee about life as a GP, the long-term relationship between patients and doctors and how reading within a group is part of ‘social prescribing’.

Tim Parks uses Chekhov to rebel against the problem of ‘biographical fallacy’; the ‘poet’s poet’ F.T. Prince comes to our attention courtesy of Anthony Rudolf; Brian Nellist recommends a Neglected Novel – as well as offering The Old Poem – and there are more from The Reader regulars, including Ian McMillan and Enid Stubin.

Curl up by the fire and order your copy, available to order from the website. If you’re on the search for Christmas present suggestions, a year’s subscription to The Reader – giving you four issues – costs £24 in the UK and £36 abroad.