Reading allows us to immerse ourselves in a moment of calm. It can also open new worlds and feelings to explore, and expand our horizons even while our physical movement is limited. Literature can put the current situation into perspective, and give us hope for the future. The benefits of reading increase exponentially when we involve other people by reading together, or by talking about the ideas that come from experiencing literature in a book club.
How does this work?
The most important aspect of a book club is that it suits the people in it, and great book clubs come in all shapes and sizes. Ten-Minute Book Club gives you the raw resources to make a book club where you can get the reading done in ten minutes. Beyond that – it’s up to you!
Already have a book club?
Perhaps you’re already in a book club, but you no longer have the time (or energy) to read a whole book together or find it hard to carry on if you can’t meet in person. Our materials cut the preparation time for a book club down to a fraction, leaving you free to talk about interesting literature online or in a (socially distanced) location of your choice.
Interested in starting a mini book club?
Maybe you’ve never tried a book club before and are wondering where to start. You might gather a small group of friends, family or colleagues who are also interested (around 2 to 8 people works well) in a mini book club. You can use our themes (or your own) to structure your conversation if you prefer something formal, or just take it in turns to share your impressions if informal is more your thing.
Taking a few notes as you read on what jumps out at you can help to remind you of what you’d like to discuss, though you might find that the conversation goes to unexpected places: that’s one of the joys of reading together.
The Reading Agency's Reading Groups for Everyone is a network of book groups from across the UK, with information on setting up and running book groups.
Thinking about reading
To help get you thinking about reading, try these great resources from an existing Faculty project, Writers Make Worlds:
How much of your experience reading a book is shaped by the words on the page or by what surrounds these words?
What happens when we read?
Is our imagination stimulated by the separate words on the page, or by the flow of those words, or both?
Identifying with Literature
Explore how reading can help us to think differently about ourselves, others and the world.
Who's behind it?
Ten-Minute Book Club is a collaboration between TORCH, the Faculty of English, and LitHits, a free app being created in the Faculty of English at Oxford. LitHits asks how much time you have and provides an unabridged excerpt from a work of literature to match, in the range of 5 to 30 minutes. Our aim is to remove some of the barriers to reading for pleasure, like difficulty in finding something engaging in a vast sea of choices, or simply not having enough time to read a full book. LitHits will be released later this year, and we have brought forward some of our material in light of the pandemic.
If you would like to hear from the LitHits project in future, please sign up to the mailing list via the project website.
What are the books?
The TMBC texts that we post each week are all available in the public domain, unless otherwise stated. We hope to widen access in future. Where we do reference the work of active writers, we include links to support their work directly.
In choosing the writers to highlight for this project, we are committed to recognising the colonial values still inherent in the canon of English literature, and to the urgency and importance of working to decolonise the curriculum. We have chosen our writers using the following principles:
- Foreground the historical importance of writers of colour in English
- Ensure our approach to literature in English is global, including writers in the Caribbean and India, for example
- Choose texts that demonstrate the very long history of calls for justice in relation to race
- Showcase work in this area already undertaken within the university, choosing for our book club writers whose work is taught within our Faculty curriculum