Reading Group Celebration in Wigan
Wigan Libraries have a successful and flourishing network of adult reading groups, meeting once a month or more often, in every library.
Each year we like to celebrate the groups' continued success with a convivial event that brings together members from as many as possible of our groups.
We usually aim to hold the celebration in the dreary days of February, when Christmas is long gone, and summer seems far away. This year, for various reasons, our timing slipped, and we had our event in the second week in March.
The event was co-hosted by Reader-in-Residence Stephen Lythgoe and RD manager Carole Ogden. It was held in the Derby Room, Leigh Library, with the room laid out in informal cafe style.
The evening was in two parts.
First, we laid on a good spread of Cheese and Wine, fruit, nibbles, etc, and invited people to dive in and enjoy.
While they were eating and drinking, we ran two quiz sheets : a 20-question general book quiz and "Their number is up" : name ten books with numbers in the titles.
At this point, some people asked for clues, so Carole & Stephen attempted to provide some, entirely off the cuff. This generated a nice atmosphere of happy chaos ; we weren't totally surprised when one evaluation form called for "More author & less mucking about!"
But high-scoring winning teams in both sections claimed their prizes ; (newBooks. mag subscriptions), and many people commented that they enjoyed the atmosphere and informality.
We also asked people to vote for their book of the year from 2008. Results were varied and interesting, with "The Book Thief" and "A Thousand Splendid Suns" emerging as joint favourites.
In the second half, our guest, crime writer Neil White from Preston, talked about his published novels, "Lost Souls" ,"Fallen Idols" and his third one, "Last Rites" which is due to be published in early May.
Neil is a funny and interesting speaker, promoting lively discussion with the audience. He took part in the quiz, and stayed behind afterwards to discuss writing with some budding novelists. If you are looking for a crime author, or just a good speaker, he is highly recommended : and cheap!
Check out Neil's website :
What did we learn from the event?
An informal, fun atmosphere is what people want on a night out.
A good spread of refreshments, which need not be expensive or complicated, makes the evening.
One or, preferably, two hosts with a sense of fun helps
Eat & drink early and plentifully
Get an entertaining speaker who interacts well with the audience.
It isn't always necessary to have books to sell and sign : we forgot this on this occasion, but some people commented that they were we glad we had: maybe they were relieved not to have the pressure to purchase ( ed: this should always be checked out with the guest author).
Allow enough time : our event was 2 1/2 hours plus.
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