For World Book Day to celebrate our common love of reading, our Volunteer Co-Ordinator and Book Club Facilitator Anna writes about why we started our Book Group during the pandemic, why it has meant so much to its members and which books have inspired them!
“I first got involved with the MFT Book Group in August 2020, six months into the pandemic and our online programme. We felt that a weekly Book Group would be a great way to connect with others, immerse ourselves in the alternative world of stories and also take our minds off some of the challenges we were facing.
I have always loved the escapism and excitement of reading, where you can open a book and step into another world for a while, experience things through another’s eyes and learn so much all from the comfort of your sofa! I remember as a child being so involved in reading that I forgot where I was and shut myself off from all that was happening around me. I still love that feelings as I start a new book – where will it take me to?
The Book Group has been an amazing experience, we started with short stories that were available on the internet and every week I would send out the links to the reading, usually two or three short stories, and we would discuss them the following week. As time has gone on, we have also moved onto reading whole books, taking a few chapters each week. We discuss what we would all like to read, which is enjoyably diverse, and make sure we include something of everyone’s choices and that it’s available to read free online. We have read some wonderful stuff and always have interesting discussions – often quite lively if we have some differing opinions about the book! There is no pressure to read everything – that is why we have several options every week so there is plenty of choice.
Over the pandemic it felt especially important to concentrate on something completely different. On a rainy January in lockdown it was clear that all needed something cheerful to support us and we found that in the sunny nature of Anne of Green Gables. While we experienced travel restrictions we travelled with Phileas Fogg and Michael Palin around the world, visiting many countries – all on a Wednesday afternoon! We have marked Christmas with snowy tales and Pam Ayres, Halloween with hair curling stories and Burns Night with Scottish poems.
I worked out that we have had about 70 meetings so far and over this time I have been struck by the connection and support that Book Group members have shown each other, bonding over books! Some of the characters in the books we have all come to feel we know and love, discussing their adventures almost like they were old friends! We have been very fortunate to have our own resident writer in Tilly and have enjoyed many of her stories and poems. Amanda has been a great support, volunteering with the Book Group and adding her insights each week.
Some of the books we have enjoyed the most include:
- “Anne of Green Gables” by L.M. Montgomery
- “Around the World in 80 Days” by Jules Verne
- “Around the World in 80 Days” by Michael Palin
- “Murder on the Orient Express” by Agatha Christie
- “A Passage to India” by E M Forster
- Sherlock Holmes short stories
- Tilly’s poems & stories
And children’s stories including:
- “The Selfish Giant” by Oscar Wilde
- “The Tale of Peter Rabbit” by Beatrix Potter
- “Esio Trot” by Roald Dahl
- “Just So Stories” by Rudyard Kipling
- “Tom’s Midnight Garden” by Philippa Pearce
- “The Snow Queen” by Hans Christian Andersen
- “Winnie the Pooh” by A. A. Milne
As well as short stories written by Chekhov, Tolstoy, Daphne Du Maurier, Edgar Allan Poe, Hemingway, Charles Dickens and Ted Hughes.
I would like to thank all current and past members of the Book Group for their participation and enthusiasm, I look forward to Wednesday afternoons knowing that there will always be something new to discover and discuss!
Want to join our Book Club?
It runs every Wednesdays, 4pm-4.45pm on Zoom. To take part, you need to register us and then contact our office at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01372 375 400 or SMS 07929 024722 to get the Zoom link.
Want to write a blog for us?
We’re always keen to share mental health stories or give a platform to anyone wanting to share thoughts and educate others about mental health or wellbeing. If you’d like to write a blog or create a video blog for us, a poem, a song or a piece of art, you don’t have to be an expert at it, we can coach you through it! Just get in touch with Connie, our Communications Lead, at email@example.com