The Rise and Rise of Bibliotherapy

Carly Townsend is a third year English Language and Literature student at the University of Liverpool.

The French philosopher Charles De Secondat asserted that “I’ve never known any trouble that an hour’s reading didn’t assuage”. Whilst the more cynical amongst us may need more than an hour to assuage our troubles, few people can dispute the deeply satisfying, comforting feeling of well-being that comes over us when re-reading a favourite book, whether it be Charlie and the Chocolate Factory or Great Expectations.

Regular readers of this blog will be familiar with the exceptional community work carried out by The Reader Organisation in terms of its Get Into Reading groups. These aim to bring improved physical and social health to a range of people, from local children to patients confined to a stay in hospital, through the reading of and engagement with various texts. Over the past couple of weeks I have been pleasantly surprised to find that this practice of what is now commonly termed bibliotherapy is not confined to the great efforts of Jane Davis and others at The Reader Organsiation, but can be found in many different and sometimes unexpected forms across the country. These various bibliotherapy initiatives aim to improve not just physical health but also to promote social inclusion and psychological happiness.

It can often seem an impossibility to reconcile the aims of big business with concern for individuals. However, HarperCollins and Macmillan, two of Britain’s best-known publishers, have done just that. HarperCollins’ initiatives include the funding of resources and teacher training for four Ghanaian schools and, closer to home, the promotion of reading schemes and student mentoring in both Hammersmith and Glasgow. Similarly, Macmillan staff also promote reading schemes in the local community.

Coffee addicts will be thrilled to hear that they can now splash out on their daily fix at Starbucks guilt free, safe in the knowledge that the company is promoting literacy as well as lattes, and for the last four years has hosted the Bookdrive in partnership with the National Literacy Trust, a campaign where books are donated by publishers and Starbucks’ employees and customers, then re-distributed amongst local children. The company also works with the National Literacy Trust on the All Books for Children programme, aimed at promoting books to children aged 0-4 years old. Anyone who knows an excitable small child will certainly appreciate the intrepid nature of the latter undertaking!

Continuing with the coffee house theme, I was particularly impressed to hear of the launch in February 2008 of Costa Coffee’s Liverpool Poetry Cafe. In addition to acting as a venue for readings and events, a community board in the store invites customers to post ideas for future events, give feedback on past ones, or simply share a favourite poem.

It is this promotion of social inclusion and two-way participation that for me seems to embody the spirit of bibliotherapy. In his January article for The Guardian regarding bibliotherapy Blake Morrison pointed out that figures as early as Aristotle and Plato recognised the therapeutic and empowering capabilities of books. It is reassuring to discover that these capabilities are still valued today, with the efforts of individuals and companies alike ensuring that the rise of bibliotherapy shows no sign of slowing down. That can only be good news for those of us with troubles still to assuage.

By Carly Townsend

Local Literary Events

There are some really fantastic literature events coming up over the next few weeks in the North West, including author readings, drama and poetry performances and literary workshops. We have pulled together a few highlights to showcase some of what’s on offer this month.

Events across Liverpool:

Rob Chapman and Willy Vlautin, Monday 7th April 7.30pm – 9pm, the Bluecoat, tickets £7/5

This is an event for both literature and music lovers alike – two authors with a music background read from their new novels:

Manchester’s Rob Chapman regularly contributes to Mojo, Uncut and The Times. Dusk Music is a darkly comic account of a musician’s career, featuring real-life characters and events such as Jimi Hendrix and the famous Hyde Park concerts.

Musician Willy Vlautin‘s writing has been praised for its “compassion and warmth” (The Times). Willy will read extracts from his second novel Northline, accompanied by the specially composed soundtrack to the novel.

Endgame, 11th April – 3rd May, 7.45pm, the Everyman, tickets £8 – £12.50

Two Matthews. Two Dustbins. No Plot.

A man who can’t stand up, and one who can’t sit down.
Two legless parents and a three-legged dog.
A telescope, a ladder and a fugitive rat.
The stage is set.
How will it end?

Featuring a return to the Everyman stage, alumnus Matthew Kelly returns to Liverpool with his son Matthew Rixon, in a new production of Samuel Beckett’s ‘masterpiece of the absurd’ directed by the award-winning Lucy Pitman-Wallace.

Costa Liverpool Poetry Café, Open Mic Night – Monday 14th April, 7.30-9.30, Costa, Bold Street, free

Heart Beats Rhyme and Roll Poetry Night with Poetry in the City present Salt poets, Tuesday 15th April, 7.30pm – 10.30pm, the Bluecoat, tickets £3/2

Forward Prize nominee Eleanor Rees presents her 2007 collection, Andraste’s Hair: poems of myth, memory, folksong and murder ballad. Jo Colley‘s new collection, Weeping for the Lovely Phantoms, has received widespread critical acclaim with its “distorted landscapes infested with the manifold ghosts of the unresolved and unrequited”. Jo and Elly will be joined by another exciting Salt poet, plus live music from one of Heart Beats’ favourite rock bands.

Fiction reading by Maria McCann and Michael Symmons Roberts – Powerful Prose, Thursday 17th April, 7.30pm – 9pm, the Bluecoat, tickets £7/5

Liverpool born Maria McCann‘s first novel, As Meat Loves Salt, was an Economist ‘Book of the Year’ and featured in September 2007 as one of the Observer‘s ‘Fifty Most Underrated Novels.’ Set in the 17th century, the novel examines the workings of power and explores what happens when someone obsessed by rage and guilt becomes enthralled by idealism.

Michael Symmons Roberts will read from his new novel, Breath, a moving examination of a country recovering from a brutal and divisive civil war. A poet and novelist, his fourth book of poetry, Corpus, was the winner of the 2004 Whitbread Poetry Award.

Orange Broadband Readers’ Day – Saturday 19th April, the Bluecoat, 1pm – 5.30pm, tickets £10/8

Meet some of the UK’s most interesting female cultural and literary figures, take part in exciting book discussions and attend inspiring workshops. Kate Mosse, bestselling author and Honorary Director of the Orange Broadband Prize for Fiction joins Clare Allan, Shami Chakrabarti, Philippa Gregory, Bel Mooney and Lionel Shriver for an afternoon of readings and discussions. Beginning with refreshments at 1pm, the audience will have the opportunity to attend events with all five guests and Kate Mosse. This is a wonderful opportunity to spend time with some of the UK’s most interesting cultural and literary female figures and to be privy to the next generation as judges Clare Allan and Shami Chakrabarti will discuss the shortlist of the Orange Award for New Writers 2008.

Orange Broadband Prize for Fiction Readers’ Day is brought to Liverpool to celebrate Capital of Culture 08 by Orange, The Reading Agency, Liverpool Libraries and Time to Read, The Reader Organisation and the Bluecoat.

The Film of the Book and the Book of the Film: Fight Club – Thursday 24th April, 6.30pm, café at FACT, free

Chuck Palahniuk’s novel Fight Club and David Fincher’s film of the same name have become cult classics since their release in the late 90s. The story is narrated by a nameless protagonist (Edward Norton) and with his growing discomfort with consumerism and the emasculating effects of American culture. After a chance meeting with Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt), he creates an underground fighting club as a radical form of psychotherapy. Read, watch, or do both and come to our meeting to marvel at a pop culture phenomenon. Organised by The Reader Organisation

Costa Liverpool Poetry Café – Thursday 24th April, 7.30-9.30, Costa, Bold Street, free

Jean Sprackland (Costa Poetry Award winner 2007) and Headland Press poets: Ade Jackson, Janette Stowell, Sarah Maclennan, Dave Ward.

… and slightly further afield

Wirral BookFest, Monday 7th – Sat 12th April, various venues across Wirral

This new festival, organised by Wirral libraries, promises something for everyone, from graphic novels workshop for youngsters to a murder mystery evening in Wirral’s spookiest library! Big name guests include popular children’s author Brian Jacques, acclaimed poet John Siddique and a special ‘Meet the Authors’ session with a trio of best-selling novelists: JoJo Moyes, Mike Gayle and Jenny Colgan.

The Other Room – Wednesday 9th April, 7pm, Old Abbey Inn, Pencroft Way, Manchester, free

A new evening of innovative/experimental poetry in Manchester, in association with Openned, the highly successful London reading series. The first evening features readings by Alan Halsey, Tom Jenks and Geraldine Monk. Subsequent events will take place on the first Wednesday of every second month.

The Northern Poetry Slam – Thursday 17th April, 9pm, The Northern Pub, Tibb Street, Manchester, free

The first in a regular new series of poetry slams at The Northern is hosted by the effervescent comedian John Cooper and features a special guest appearance from Max Seymour, winner of last year’s Manchester Literature Festival Comedy Slam. Come and discover the city’s rising stars of poetry and comedy and help crown a champion.

Reader Event: What Are You Reading?

Tomorrow (Saturday March 15th) heralds the grand re-opening of the Bluecoat arts centre in Liverpool. After a £12.5 million refurbishment project over the last three years, the time has come for the Bluecoat to swing open its doors to the public once more. To celebrate this they have put together a free showcase weekend of music, dance, visual art, live art and literature for this Saturday and Sunday.

As part of the event The Reader Organisation is running a workshop that aims to help you cope with some of life’s difficulties. Members of The Reader team will offer advice and possible solutions to your problems or contemporary issues – The Reader Clinic will turn to the pages of novels and poetry in order to find some answers:

“My boss tells me he loves me but there’s another, and she’s so beautiful. I can’t work out what I should do, my heart tells me one thing and my head another …” What book could possibly help with such a problem? Perhaps Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre?

“I have been getting up to a bit of mischief recently and scribbling all my notes in my diary. I think that my flatmate may be reading my entries!” Zoe Heller’s Notes on a Scandal is just what’s needed for this situation.

How about this predicament: “I am a tall, gangly lad and I keep tripping over my own arms and legs. None of the other kids will let me play football. What can I do?” Solutions to this problem can be found in Liverpool Reads’ book for 2008, Keeper by Mal Peet.

From Shakespeare’s Richard III, we may be able to identify certain similarities with our own PM Gordon Brown and that of Richard, the future king: “Now is the winter of our discontent…”

“With my truest friends, it doesn’t matter how long it is since we’ve spoken, we’re still as close as ever but I struggle to express how much they mean to me.” Take a look at Elizabeth Jennings’ poem ‘Friendship’.

How can books help?

Bring your concerns, questions or dilemmas to the Garden Room at the Bluecoat tomorrow, 1.30 – 2.30 (just turn up at the venue, no ticket required) and meet the editors of The Reader magazine and members of The Reader Organisation as they host this special event to offer advice with the help of some great books. You can also hear more about The Reader Organisation’s projects, including the nationally acclaimed ‘Get Into Reading’ project and learn about the background of Blake Morrison’s feature article in The Guardian.

Find out how to get to the Bluecoat Art Centre here.

Posted by Jen Tomkins

The Reader Office: Flooded by Tea and the BBC

“Jen! Can you come downstairs and carry some things up to the office for me? I’ll be outside in twenty seconds.” So, off I fly down the stairs, thinking that I’ll be needing to flex some muscle to carry books, notes or files upstairs but no, instead I was confronted with a platter of bread, cheese, salads and meat, a bunch of bananas and a basket of hyacinths. “What’s all this for Jane?” “For the BBC, or whoever’s around that maybe hungry,” comes the reply. I think the perplexed look on my face must have said it all. “Oh Jen, you don’t know, do you? [no, I don’t] The BBC are coming today, a film crew, to interview me and film a reading group… in twenty minutes!” Somewhat shocked and enthused by this, heightened by Jane’s cry of “Alan Yentob’s coming to do it!”, as she was getting back into her car to take it to the carpark, the whirlwind of activity began.

“The BBC are coming!” I yell as I return back to the office, armed with a delicious looking platter of food. “Oh, I know,” people say casually. “Well I didn’t, and we haven’t got any clean cups! Quick! Get some mugs cleaned, get the kettle on and oh, yes, get to the shop for some milk!” All hands on deck for the last minute preparations and all ends up well, of course: there are enough mugs and enough hot water for everyone (never mind the boxes and papers all over the place). The BBC film crew, director, researcher and Alan Yentob arrive without any unnecessary fuss or demands and the office is alive with an enthusiastic buzz. First things first though, “Cup of tea, anyone?”

The reason for this, to me very sudden, barrage into The Reader office was to film a reading group and interview Jane as part of an episode of Imagine… focused on the life and writing of Nobel Prize-winning author Doris Lessing (due to be screened in late May). Lessing, who has had a profound impact on the course of Jane’s life, made an insistence in her Nobel Prize lecture that we must continue to tell stories, to read stories and that a “storyteller exists within everyone of us.” Jane’s ambition to get people reading, from whatever their social or educational background – and what’s more to enjoy reading – is inspired by Lessing’s own beliefs about how reading really can describe the human state. This is firmly expressed in Lessing’s final statement of her speech, “I think it is that girl, and the women who were talking about books and an education when they had not eaten for three days, that may yet define us.”

Whilst the filming was getting under way, I was looking after various members of the BBC crew (when I say looking after what I really mean is providing cups of tea and giving the nod to allow the cling film to be taken off the sandwiches), chatting to Alan Yentob about Never Mind the Buzzcocks and his feelings about Simon Amstell, and trying (with quite a lot of difficulty) to concentrate on getting some work done. After the day’s work Yentob and the crew seemed pleased with how it all went and were particularly encouraging about the format and success of the reading group. “This is what we do, ” Jane tells him, “and I want to do it all over the country.”

For all the disruption and excitement there was no disarray and they were all extremely grateful for our hospitality. “Honestly,” said the researcher, “it’s been great – normally we have to eat boiled rats in the BBC canteen.” The look in his eyes was worryingly sincere. “Welcome to The Reader,” I said, “we do tea and cake very well here.”

By Jen Tomkins

Small Presses, Big Ideas

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This afternoon The Reader editor Philip Davis featured on BBC Radio 4’s show about small presses, ‘Small Presses, Big Ideas’. In the show Phill Jupitus “explores the world of the small press poetry magazines, which allow anyone with a verse and the price of a stamp the chance to rub shoulders with the greatest poets”. The Reader magazine publishes essays, reviews and recommendations as well as poetry, but the programme blurb describes our approach perfectly.

You can listen again to the programme here, until Tuesday December 25th.

Find out about our Christmas subscription and back issue special offers here.

Reader event: Penny Readings

Penny Readings
St. George’s Hall, Liverpool
December 9th, 2007

By Chris High

In the annual Penny Readings, now in its fourth year of emulating Charles Dickens’s event of 1862 in which the great author described the room as “simply perfect”, The Reader Organisation have managed to encapsulate not only the very essence of Christmas, but also the very heartbeat of what Liverpool ’08 should be about. What better way to herald the arrival of Christmas than to spend a somewhat chilly Sunday evening in the luxurious surroundings of the Small Concert Room to listen to some of the city’s finest exponents of the spoken word reading festive extracts from Hardy, Dickens and Shakespeare?

Introducing some of the city’s musical foundations such as the Life Changers Empowering Ministries Gospel Choir – incorporating singers from seven different countries – and the Merseyside Dance Initiative’s, African Youth Dance, whose performance was filled with colour and unrestrained enthusiasm, BBC Radio 4 presenter, David McFetridge, held proceedings together as MC, reading extracts from Capsica’s Mersey Minis anthologies.

But it is the guest readers who make the event what it is and not least this year was Annabelle Dowler – Kirtsy Millar in The Archers and The Shepherd in The Liverpool Playhouse production of The Flint Street Nativity – who read from The Winter’s Tale and As You Like It, bringing scenes vividly to life with great energy.

Equally as eloquent were the University of Liverpool’s Brian Nellist MBE, who read from Thomas Hardy’s Under The Greenwood Tree and poet Jenny Joseph, reading from Bleak House and her own work, Led By The Nose, A Garden Of Smells.

As is traditional at the this event, however, it is the chosen passage from A Christmas Carol read by Philip Davis, Editor of The Reader magazine, that closed the show and so released the five hundred strong audience into the chilly night air with a lighter heart and a renewed sense of what the meaning of Christmas should be.

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Chris High is an author and freelance journalist. He also writes crime fiction book reviews, theatre, music and film reviews, and interviews writers, media personalities and musicians. We are not entirely sure what his tastes in cake are. Or if he even likes cake.

(Festival Girl is away)

Reader event: The Penny Readings

On the evening of Sunday 9th December, at St George’s Hall in Liverpool, The Reader is hosting its fourth annual Penny Readings event.

This year, the event features renowned UK poet Jenny Joseph; The Archers star Annabelle Dowler; and BBC Radio 4 and CBeebies presenter, David McFetridge; the 500-strong audience will hear readings from such famous classics as Bleak House, A Christmas Carol and A Winter’s Tale.  Other highlights of the evening include performances by the Liverpool African Youth Dance group, three community choirs, a Dickensian trumpet player and a string quartet.

The Reader exists to promote the good in literature, believing that reading can be fun, life-enhancing and creative for everyone, and this is why we host The Penny Readings. As in Dickens’ day – when he would travel around the potteries and Liverpool, reading to thousands of people for only one penny – we too only charge one penny for this event, so that it is inclusive and available to all. We want everyone to benefit from the positive impact that literature can bring to people’s lives and this is one thoroughly enjoyable way that we are able to do it.

You can read the full press release on the University of Liverpool’s website. Tickets are now sold out for this year’s event but you are can place your name on a list at Liverpool Central Library to ensure you are amongst the first to know when tickets go on sale for 2008.

Next year we are thinking of putting one hundred of the tickets on ebay in order to add excitement to the scramble for tickets and raise money to support the event. A penny for your thoughts, please.

Posted by Jen Tomkins

Noel Godfrey Chavasse 90th Anniversary

Noel Godfrey Chavasse died of his wounds at Branhoek, Belgium on August 4, 1917, aged 33. The son of Francis James Chavasse, Bishop of Liverpool, Noel was a Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC) officer and is one of only three people to have received the Victoria Cross twice and the only one to both a VC and Bar in World War 1. He received his first VC for his actions in July 1916 when he saved the lives of at least 20 men on the battlefield of Guillemont. The second was awarded for his actions in the period leading up to his death, when he repeatedly went out to search for wounded men under heavy fire, even when his own wounds were life-threatening.

Before the war he lived in Liverpool at the Bishops’ Palace, 19 Abercromby Square, now home to The Reader. On the anniversary of his death wreaths are placed on the steps leading up to the front door. Today seemed a good day to mention it.

Reader event: Food for Thought

Members of staff at The Reader Organisation share their experiences about ‘Food for Thought’, an event held at the University of Liverpool’s Foresight Centre, at lunchtime today. Sandwiches, cake and tea were all consumed avidly and the conversation flowed with insightful and enthusiastic responses to the featured short story and poems.

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I have just come back from one of our much loved Food for Thought events and have enjoyed privilege of yet another stimulating couple of hours of lively debate and discussion! Today’s selected short story was Tobias Wolff’s ‘Powder’, which was read along side Elizabeth Jennings‘ moving poem ‘Father to Son’ and Vernon Scannell‘s challenging piece ‘Incendiary’.

What I found most impressive about ‘Powder’ was its creation of a new found movement of discovery within such a short space of time; that is, a short space of time not only within the form of the story, but rather the actual narrative moment of one morning in the life of a somewhat estranged son and his father on Christmas Eve. The son thinks that he knows all there is to know about his father, and appears wearied and tired by what he does know: his is a father who, for all his good intentions, seems to be unable to stop himself from getting caught up in his own enthusiasm for reckless adventure often at the expense of his other commitments which have to do with the ordinary responsibilities and routines of everyday life for parents, children, and the family. Although what is really wonderful about the story is that the son, when compelled to follow his father in a hazardous drive through snow and blizzard, comes to realise a much needed sense of fun and adventure in himself as he rediscovers his father as someone who he can look up to and admire because, rather than in spite of, his “rumpled” nature. The best bit of the day for me was when a lady on my table said that the story had given her hope that relationships between father and son, when strained and paralysed by those awful and seemingly impenetrable silences, do not have to stay that way and can, actually, change.
By Clare Williams

Tobias Wolff, author of ‘Powder’, the story that formed part of today’s reading for Food for Thought, is one of the world’s finest contemporary short fiction writers. From his collection The Night in Question, it tells the tale of a boy’s perception of his father and the changing dynamic of their relationship, or at least the son’s change of attitude. In only five pages and in what is essentially only a ‘drive home’, Wolff portrays an essentially irresponsible and arrogant man, whose incautious behaviour means that he and his son nearly miss making it home for Christmas. Yet as the story progresses, the son begins to accept his father’s behaviour , “I stopped moping and began to enjoy myself”, realising that accepting the circumstance and his father for who he is leads him to acknowledge, “I actually trusted him.” It was remarkable how may different feelings this story prompted in the readers that were sat at the table with me: some believed there was an impending disaster as the father and son drove through the dense snow; some drew on resonances with Wolff’s own memoirs; others were quick to highlight aspects of the relationship between father and son in relation to their own experiences, as parent or as child.

The blankets of white snow and the portrayal of silent moments in the story were echoed in Elizabeth Jenning’s poem ‘Father to Son’, “I know/ Nothing of him”. This poem, which speaks of the lack of understanding between parent and child, identifies how you can yearn to feel a connection to someone but lack the understanding to be able to, “We each put out an empty hand,/ Longing for something to forgive”. Vernon Scannell’s ‘Incendiary’ seemed antithetical in tone to the other texts as it was provocative and volatile, “that one small boy should set/ The sky on fire and choke the stars”. However there is a presiding sense of poignancy towards the poem’s end, “would have been content with one warm kiss/ Had there been anyone to offer this”, that puts the onus on each one of us to ensure that children do not grow up without being shown love. Each of the texts provided a different attitude towards relationships and each person around the table had their own unique insights: it is at events like this that words on the page really do come to life, bringing our own experiences and thoughts to what’s written in front of us and willing to share them with others.
By Jen Tomkins

We sat down to sandwiches, large slices of cake and three pieces of work for discussion: ‘Powder’, a short story by the American writer Tobias Wolff that describes a father and son relationship in which the boy has taken on the role of adult as if to protect himself from his father’s irresponsibility and chaotic lifestyle. ‘Father to Son’, a poem by Elizabeth Jennings which explores a situation in which there is no understanding, or common ground, between father and son and another poem ‘Incendiary’ by Vernon Scannell in which a small boy with no parental love or authority causes massive damage to property.

We began, spontaneously with Elizabeth Jennings’ poem. Everyone found it bleak but knew it to be possible and real:

We speak like strangers, there’s no sign
Of understanding in the air.
This child is built to my design
Yet what he loves I cannot share.

It was the sheer distance between the two with ‘no sign’ of ever being able to close that made it so sad and the incomprehensibilty of how this most fundamental relationship could become so sterile. We spent at least twenty five minutes exploring the complextity of the situation of the poem which ends without resolution:

We each put out an empty hand,
Longing for something to forgive.

Turning to ‘Powder’, we all felt we needed to look for something positive in what seemed to be another broken down relationship between father and son. It is a great and brilliantly written account of a brief moment when, against all odds, the son is able to let go of built up fear and resentment and allow himself to feel pride, trust and love for his Dad.

My father was driving. My father in his forty-eighth year, rumpled, kind, bankrupt of honour, flushed with certainty. He was a great driver. All persuasion and no coercion. Such subtlety at the wheel, such tactful pedalwork. I actually trusted him.

The story is only five pages long, but packed with thought and feeling. Much food for thought and discussion. Unfortunately, after this, we didn’t have room for ‘Incendiary’ and left the table feeling fuller than sandwiches and cake alone could account for.
By Angela Macmillan

We spent much of our discussion time thinking about the relationship between the father and son in the short story ‘Powder’. We were all interested in their individual characters, which caused us to sympathise with both of them at different moments in the story. We talked a lot about the apparent ‘distance’ between the them, how the fact that they are very different personalities effects their relationship as much as the damage that has been done through the lack of trust the boy has in his father and the broken promises he remembers. This idea is echoed in the Elizabeth Jennings poem, ‘Father to Son’ where the two “speak like strangers” yet appear to be separated through their difference from each other, “what he loves I cannot share”, rather than a specific, identifiable disagreement. This problem seems much deeper and less temporary somehow, as the aching “Longing for something to forgive” in the final line crushes the hope that talks of “shaping from sorrow a new love” in the previous stanza.
By Katie Peters

People’s Choice Debate: Victory for Jane Davis

Jane Davis, Director of The Reader Organisation has been victorious in her ‘Vote for Books’ campaign as part of the People’s Choice debate for Free Thinking 07. Beating off competition from three other Liverpool-based thinkers, covering diverse topics such as ‘In praise of activists’ and ‘Britain needs to take an anger management course’, Jane’s winning pitch to promote books as the art form that “allows us to fully understand the human experience”, is headway indeed for The Reader Organisation’s work.

Very many congratulations, Jane!

Jane will be taking part in a live audience discussion around the issues raised in the People’s Choice debate as part of Free Thinking 07 in The Box at FACT at 3.15pm this coming Sunday. If you cannot attend in person, you will be able to listen to this through the Free Thinking 07 website for up to a week after the event.

Tonight Jane is in conversation with Blake Morrison in an event hosted by Raymond Tallis at the Wellcome Collection in London. ‘Books to Make You Better’ will explore how the written word influences us beyond the moment of reading and can have a transformative effect on our lives. This is the third in a series of four events exploring medicine and literature. Tonight’s event will focus on the growing interest in bibliotherapy (The University of Liverpool launched their innovative Reading in Practice MA this year, under the direction of Philip Davis) and the part writers and readers can play in improving the nation’s health.

Posted by Jen Tomkins