What tempts people to read, I wonder? Is it the attractive cover? The well-known author? Or word of mouth, perhaps? It can be one of many things. Joining a reading club can be another method of tempting people to read, offering the chance to ask questions, find answers, debate, agree, explore and have an all-important cup of tea. Joining Aled Jones Williams’ reading group, however, is an experience in its self. For six weeks in October and November, twelve enthusiastic book lovers came together at Tŷ Newydd for a series of weekly discussions.
The reading group aims to form a community of readers, people who are willing to share their experiences, be that sweet or sour, whilst reading the text. Everyone receives the reading list beforehand, normally selected from one of the classics of Welsh literature such as work from Kate Roberts or Caradog Prichard, therefore getting a chance to read the text prior to meeting as a group. The aim isn’t to handle ‘literature’ as such but to find a language that ignites a personal experience: and how the book offers a language to understand this further. Sometimes that will happen and it will surprise people, but other times the piece might not offer anything at all. The closest term that can be used to describe this kind of reading group is bibliotherapy, which offers a new way of looking at literature, a more personal approach that widens your horizons.
What do I get out of the reading group? Pure enjoyment! I lectured in English Language and English Literature for nearly 40 years. One of my greatest pleasures is getting to know the literature of my mother-tongue and exchanging opinions with others, under Aled’s guidance.
– Carol Hayes
So, be that a pair or two, or a group of ten, why not gather your friends together and try to start your own reading group? You’ll most likely find a new favourite novel and enjoy genres that you wouldn’t normally read. Best of all, you can have a cup of tea and cake at the same time…