It’s Tuesday afternoon – around 1.45 pm – the gate-buzzer sounds – a little earlier than I was expecting – nevertheless, I jump up, press the release button, with a smile on my face, look out the window and wave to Caroline as she makes her way up my drive. As we stand in my Den chatting about the summer just gone, more people start to arrive; Elaine, Margaret, Brenda, Anne, Margaret and Pam all arrive together and the room is soon filled with hugs and laughter. That quickly subsides as I usher everyone to seats and the expectancy is tangible. We’re off again! I introduce the story – ‘Flight’ by Doris Lessing, from her collection in ‘The Habit of Loving’. It’s a story about love that is almost obsessional; love that seems greedy and suffocating, but which we can see has another story behind it; a story of earlier betrayal perhaps, or of dreadful loss. Four of us will share the reading and soon we are engrossed in the listening….
Reading is good for the soul, feeding and nourishing it in the loveliest of ways. I never feel alone when I have a book in my hand and words travelling through my eyes, around my brain – soaking into my very being – taking me to wonderful places, meeting fabulous people and stretching my thinking, my imagination – astounding me, annoying me, irking me, amusing me, fascinating me, charming me….I could go on endlessly! You get the picture?
Reading aloud and together with others, however, takes it to a different place all together. It is a special and enriching thing. Sharing the reading, or just listening to someone else read, somehow brings words to life in a way that isn’t possible when we are alone with a book. There are too, many people for whom reading has become an almost impossible thing – and those who perhaps don’t feel confident reading. They may never have been encouraged to read, or are unsure about what to read.
For all these reasons and more, I started my own Reading Aloud & Together Group, which I call ‘Gather 2 Read in Honley’, in January 2014. I had long been a lover of reading and in 2013 I had completed an MA in Reading in Practice at the University of Liverpool, after hearing about that exciting course through the work of The Reader Organisation (TRO):
“The Reader Organisation is an award-winning charitable social enterprise working to connect people with great literature through shared reading. We’re here to bring books to life, creating welcoming environments in which personal feeling is recognised and valued, forming vital connections between people and literature through which everyone can feel more alive” http://www.thereader.org.uk/who-we-are.aspx
Around nine women meet at my home every Tuesday afternoon at 2.00 pm for an hour and a half – I have a lovely big room (my Den!) where we can all be comfortable with no interruptions. We read a short story, or sometimes an excerpt from a novel, and at least one poem. It’s usually me who does the choosing but some of the women have brought along stories or poems and often suggest an author or a poet we might look at. Not everyone reads aloud and that’s fine – just engaging by listening is enough. Sometimes it’s just one person who reads and it’s not always me – other times people take turns. There are usually at least two people present who like to read aloud. Our group has nine regular members, although not everyone can come every week, and there are others who drop by occasionally, and some who have come along when visiting a group member. We read; we talk about we’ve read – we share what we felt about it; what moved us or bothered us. We share questions it raises in us; memories it stirs or a picture in the mind it inspires. Some talk a lot – others a little – some not at all. Whether we speak or not, we have all been connected through what we have shared in our reading. It’s a magical, beautiful thing and we love it!
What else can I tell you? Oh yes, we have cake and tea!! Anyone is welcome – contact me through the Comments section if you’re interested in joining or visit my Facebook page.