Since we started welovebearwood it’s been amazing finding out about the different community groups which regularly meet up in Bearwood.
We were able to grab the attention of one of the founder members of the Bearwood Book Club, Daniel Carins, whilst he had his nose in their current book, "The Night Circus" by Erin Morgenstern to find out more.
Daniel told us “We started at least 7 years ago - I only know because my son, who is now 6, came to an early meeting in his little baby rocking chair as a newborn. I think he made the best contributions that night.
I set it up partly as a response to feeling a bit excluded from book groups held at local libraries (not that they're deliberately exclusive, but I've seen some of them in action, and seen some of the books that are chosen, and thought that they're not for me) and also feeling that I get far more out of a book if I can talk about it afterwards. Also, of course taste tends to be self-selecting, so I wasn't breaking out of my comfort zone with reading. And finally, I and another founder member Angela whom I'd met on a course about community regeneration wanted to create a bit of social capital in Bearwood: it's a mixed community but I get the impression that different social groups tend to stick to their own. Which is normal, but I wanted to do something to bring strangers together over a common interest.
So I cobbled together an initial group of friends and put together some notices on the Penguin Book Group website and had a few responses over the years from people outside of my social circle and it's ebbed and flowed from there - people have moved house, emigrated, left to train for marathons, have children, adopt children. One or two have come for their first time and never come back, and lots have people have got in touch but never plucked up the courage to show up and then I imagine they're too embarrassed to get back in touch: I suppose it's intimidating to turn up into a group of strangers and try and be clever for 2 hours, so maybe I'm equally guilty of the same sense of exclusion that led to me setting up the group in the first place!
That's why I'm keen to try and get new members and hope that a more public forum through the blog can make it easier. We've tried a facebook group and even a Wordpress site but it's just too difficult where not everyone uses the same platform, and not everyone goes online often enough to make it worthwhile. Good old fashioned diaries are the most reliable reminders.
We've met every six weeks usually in The King's Head, but sometimes in people's houses. There's never fewer than four of us, but sometimes up to eight. We read an eclectic mix, the only rule being no non-fiction - although even that's been broken once or twice. We're limited by the time - no-one could read War and Peace in 6 weeks, and we all reserve the right not to read beyond page 69 if we really can't stomach the book.
The photo of when Penguin sent us a book for free for us to read and review a couple of years ago. I'm the solitary male, and Angela's on the far right."
Do you love reading? Why not pop along to the next meeting at The Dog at 8pm on 4th March? Bookworms are always welcome
For more details about what the Bearwood Book Club get up to....click here!