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LoveReading Book Club Feature #6: Ridgeway Readers

By Liz Robinson on 3rd December 2018

This month we feature a well-established book club, sharing book love is such a positive experience, and reading about the different book groups around the country fills my heart with warmth! I particularly love how open to new experiences the members are, how they are willing to read something they might not have picked up themselves. Book clubs open minds as well as hearts.

What is your book club called, when did it launch and how did that come about?

We are called Ridgeway Readers, because we have members in Weymouth and Dorchester and the area in between is a hill called The Ridgeway which you have to drive over to get from one to the other. 

We started around September or October 1998. Two of us met helping at our childrens’ primary school whilst at a PTA event. We soon realised our mutual love of books and decided to give a reading group a go. 

Tell us how it’s developed over the years.

We began with four members and have grown to 14. Over the years we have seen people come and go, but we have always had a loyal core of members. As our lives have changed with children leaving home and retirement for some we have a much more free flow attendance as people’s lives are busier than ever. We have one loyal man who has been a member from the beginning. 

Describe your book club in three words.

  • Fun
  • Enlightening
  • Enriching

How do you choose your books?

Whoever is hosting the meeting chooses the book. 

How often do you meet?

About every six weeks

Where do you meet?

We take turns to host in our own homes. 

What is the format of your meetings?

Usually, the host begins by explaining what led them to choose the particular book. We then have a free discussion for at least an hour around themes, characters and plot with all opinions welcomed. This discussion can sometimes lead us off on a tangent and we discuss other things, but then come back to the book. 

We usually have wine and nibbles, then after the book discussion is finished we have general social chat and coffee and biscuits or cake. 

What are you reading right now?

Autumn by Ali Smith

Do you have a favourite format of book? (hardback, paperback, ebook, audiobook)?

As a group, we use all those formats and some members do prefer one format over another. Far more people use an E-reader now than when we started. I have one but still prefer holding a book in my hand. Another member favours audiobooks. 

What is your favourite book of 2018 so far?

I polled our members and the book that came out on top is The Sealwoman's Gift by Sally Magnusson.

Do you collectively have a favourite author?

No we don’t have a favourite as amongst the group we have very different tastes. 

Has there been a particular highlight of your time together?

In 2013 we read The Time-torn Man a biography of Thomas Hardy. We were lucky enough to discuss it in the dining room at Max Gate where Hardy lived until his death. 

We also had a trip to Lyme Regis after reading Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier, we were following in the footsteps of Mary Anning, a young woman of that town who was a famous fossil hunter. 

One meeting went on until almost 2am when we discussed My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult. There was so much to discuss!

Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood was a brilliant discussion as the ambivalence in the plot and main character generated so many varying opinions and interpretations. 

If you were to give anyone out there some advice on setting up a Book Club what would it be?

Be prepared to start small and be open to members of all ages. 

Have an online forum for discussion, and information on meetings and books. Our Facebook page is only open to members. 

You will read books you may not have chosen, so be prepared to challenge your reading habits and challenge yourself. You will gain different perspectives and insights into the book during discussion. 

Finally, keep a record of all the books you read. I really wish we had a complete record of all our books. 

If you enjoyed this article why not check out our other Book Club Features?

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