The Reader Organisation’s Events in October

At The Reader Organisation we have been busy organising reading events as part of the Bluecoat’s ‘Chapter & Verse’ literature festival (9th – 19th October).

There is something for everyone – whether a hesitant or reluctant poetry reader, or a confirmed literature lover, of any age – we hope bring great pieces of literature to as many people as possible in engaging, enticing and perhaps, unusual ways!

All events are free and there is no need to book in advance. Here are some dates for your diary:

Thursday 9th October, 1-2pm – ‘If You Don’t Read Poetry, You Will After This’: a special event for National Poetry Day, especially for those that may be confused or put-off by poetry; come along to this event to discover the hidden pleasures of poetry and prepare to be persuaded (this event will be fed live to the BBC Big Screen!)

Sunday 12th and 19th October, 12noon-12.45pm – ‘Children’s Storytelling’: bringing stories to life for little ones, on the two festival Sundays – kids can choose the stories themselves by dropping suggestions into boxes around Liverpool ONE and the Bluecoat in the run-up to the sessions.

Sunday 12th October, 2.30-3.30pm ‘The Reading Cure: Chapter’ and Sunday 19th October, 2.30 – 3.30 ‘The Reading Cure: Verse’: two unique clinics to help solve life’s problems – serious or trivial – with the assistance of our greatest novels and short stories in the first clinic and poetry in the second. Discover how fiction really can help reality.

• Plus, informal Reading and Discussion Groups, based around the authors and poets appearing at the festival, so if you’re interested in a certain writer’s work, or just intrigued to learn more about it, then feel free to come along to any of the following sessions:
o Friday 10th October, 6.30: Jim Crace, The Pesthouse (directly before event)
o Saturday 11th October, 2.30: Kapka Kassabova, Street Without A Name and Vesna Goldsworthy, Chernobyl Strawberries (directly after event)
o Sunday 12th October, 12noon: Jennie Rooney, Inside the Whale (directly before event)
o Thursday 16th October, 5pm: Raymond Tallis, The Kingdom of Infinite Space (directly before event)
o Saturday 18th October, 7.30pm: Ronan Bennett, Zugzwang (in between two events!)

Hope to see you there!

Watch out for more information about forthcoming events, organised by The Reader Organisation at BBC Free Thinking Festival (31st October – 2nd November) and Shipping Lines: Liverpool Literary Festival (3rd – 9th November). Subscribe for our free festival email alerts here.

Shipping Lines Liverpool Literary Festival

Welcome to the first blog post for the Shipping Lines Liverpool Literary Festival. The programme has been confirmed and we have an exciting line-up of events and writers.

Philip Pullman, Roger McGough, Carol Ann Duffy to name but a few of the writers coming from across the UK and abroad to speak at the festival. For a full list of writers please see our website

As well as writer readings, panel discussions, lectures and workshops, we also have a variety of community events, and a family programme as part of the festival, to engage, entertain and encourage our young readers. All our family events are free to make it easier for families to attend the festival. We have a number of schools’ events also, so please do get in touch to enquire about any remaining slots.

Our website has a full programme of events, plus a complete list of writers with a brief biography. Please visit for all information about the festival, including booking tickets, venues, and if you are not local to the North West, some information about visiting Liverpool.

We will be featuring specific events in future posts, so keep checking in for more information about the festival. Tickets have already been sold which is terrific, and events such as Philip Pullman and Howard Jacobson are going fast. We have ticket discounts available such as buy 5 for the price of 4, so take advantage of booking early. We also have discounts for The Reader Magazine subscribers. Please get in touch for details.

Please get in touch if you would like more information by emailing me at events<at>

And don’t forget you can sign up for email updates on literary festivals in the North West by clicking this link right here.

Literature Festivals: Spoilt for Choice in the North West

Cheltenham Literature Festival. Hay-on-Wye Literature Festival. Edinburgh International Book Festival. These are the ‘big’ names in British literary festivals. They are to literature festivals what Glastonbury is to music festivals. Yet like Glastonbury, sometimes the ‘big’ loses appeal and we desire something a little more intimate, a little more quirky, something a little different. As has happened with musical festivals, there has been a surge of smaller literary festivals appearing over the last couple of years serving up some engaging and intriguing literary events. In the North West of England we are spoilt for choice this autumn.

Coming up first is the Sefton Celebrates Writing Festival (22nd September – 28th September), boasting a line-up of top literary names. From readings by novelist Will Self, poets Carol Ann Duffy and Jackie Kay, to performance poetry by Luke Wright and the Potted Potter experience, there is something for everyone to enjoy. The festival also features a range of drama performances and free writing and publishing workshops within its programme.

Launching on National Poetry Day, is the new annual Chapter & Verse Literature Festival for Merseyside at the Bluecoat from 9th – 19th October (programme available very soon), featuring an exciting range of contemporary writers and performers from Merseyside and beyond. The Festival includes over 45 events and activities for lovers of words and the curious alike – from readings, book signings, talks, discussions, to performances and workshops – all under the Bluecoat’s historic roof. Amongst the writers appearing are: Tariq Ali, Jim Crace, Linda Grant, John Healy, Jan Morris,  Lemn Sissay, and Sadie Jones. Read more at ‘Poetry in the City’. The Reader Organsiation will be running daily ‘Reading and Discussion’ groups around the festival’s writer and book events; hosting poetry and prose reading ‘clinics’ to help solve life’s problems; and bringing stories to life in Children’s storytelling sessions.

From 6th – 24th October is the Shell Chester Literature Festival. Making the most of Chester’s myriad of small personable venues and spaces, the Shell presents an assortment of colourful and thought provoking events mainly within the city walls. Featuring an eclectic mix of national and local author events alongside innovative participatory activities aiming to capture the public’s imagination, headliners this year include Chris Patten, Esther Rantzen, David Owen, Michael Morpurgo, Martin Bell, Nicholas Crane and Ffion Hague.

 Manchester Literature Festival (16th- 26th October), now in its third year, attracts writers from all over the world and showcases plenty of local talent. With events ranging from Past Crimes to A Place for Romance and literature in translation to children’s fiction, the programme caters for all literary tastes. There are a series of readings, debates and workshops exploring the interplay between literature and science as part of the Big Science Read Weekend. The festival line-up includes: Patience Agbabi, Stephen Baxter, Ciaran Carson, Jim Cartwright, Mavis Cheek, Ramón Chao, Russell T Davies, Bernadine Evaristo, Laura Fish, Corsino Fortes, Jorie Graham, Adrian Mitchell, Jenni Murray, Sean O’Brien, Anne Perry, Posy Simmonds, Xinran plus many more!

There’s Shipping Lines Liverpool Literary Festival, held between 3rd – 9th November, brought to you by the University of Liverpool and organised by The Reader Organisation to celebrates Liverpool’s year as European Capital of Culture. The festival features some real movers and shakers from the local, national and international literary world: Philip Pullman, author of the astounding His Dark Materials, in conversation; Liverpool poets Roger McGough, Brain Pattern, Paul Farley and others for engaging and entertaining readings; novelists Malorie Blackman, Andrea Levy and Caryl Phillips who will read from and discuss their work; and much, much more. The official launch of The Reader Organisation, ‘Launching a Reading Revolution’ is being held at Bibby Line Group HQ on Friday 7th November. The full festival programme is available online and the paper brochure will be available from September 22nd. Email for more information. Or better yet, subscribe to our email update service to get up to the minute news and information direct to your inbox. Get Shipping Lines Liverpool Literary Festival news by email here. Or subscribe to the regular RSS feed here.

A brief mention of The Times Cheltenham Literature Festival though, seeing as last year it provided me with such delectable treats, a great deal of literary entertainment  and it’s also the place I call home. This year’s festival, held between 10th – 19th October does not disappoint with its array of award-winning writers, star names and celebrated thinkers, continuing to be recognised as the hub for literary debates and discussions. Janet Suzman, who is taking part in a panel discussion, ‘Becoming Cleopatra’, at the festival (Sunday 12th October), has an interview with editor Phil Davis in the latest issue of The Reader it is honest and witty, revealing the core of reality that she brings to her characters. Normally wary of reading such things, we know that she is plased with it (and has enjoyed reading the rest of the issue – so there’s a celebrity recommendation for you!).

We’ll be bringing you select news and reviews from events across the North West’s literary festivals over the coming months. Of course, what Festival Girl wants to know is which one will have the best cake?

Posted by Jen Tomkins

Get all of our our Literary Festival News by Email Here.

Children’s Storytelling on Sundays

From this Sunday – that’s Sunday 6th July  – until Sunday 31st August, The Reader Organisation, in association with the Bluecoat’s literature programme, will be starting summer storytelling sessions for children. Each Sunday from 12.00 – 12.45 one of our wonderful volunteers will be in the Hub at the Bluecoat sharing classic and new stories with the next generation of readers. The Reader Organisation believes that the best thing to offer future generations is the brilliant ancient technology that is: the story!

Reading from Rudyard Kipling’s Just So Stories, kids will be able to discover ‘How the Rhinocerous Got His Skin’ and just who ‘The Man Who Gave People Things to Look After’ is, amongst other well-loved stories which give inspiring answers to some intriguing questions.

The sessions are open to children of all ages, especially those that are aged 4 – 8. Admission is free for all (including the adults that we would ask to stay to look after them). If you would like to ensure you get a comfy seat, you can call the Bluecoat on 0151 702 5297 to reserve your spot. 

These sessions have beenmade possible thanks to the support of Walker Books.

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