In the rather anonymous building next door to Richmond Library there is a dimly-lit room full of rolling book stacks. On these shelves lives a collection of more than 150 sets of books just waiting to be sent out to satisfy the insatiable reading appetite of our local book groups.


Reading is traditionally a solitary activity but when a book has moved or indeed irritated you, it’s natural to want to find out what someone else thought about it, and a book group provides that opportunity. Most of us aren’t critics by profession but reading a book knowing that you’re going to discuss it later can lead you to be a bit more analytical about why you liked or disliked it. This approach can make the reading experience much more enjoyable, and being part of a group can expand your reading horizons as you find yourself tackling titles you wouldn’t have thought of choosing on your own.

Groups can meet in all sorts of places – libraries, pubs, private houses, bookshops, online, wherever people get together really. There’s no right or wrong venue, it’s what members feel comfortable with, and most groups meet once a month. The optimum number of members for a group is usually said to be eight to ten, so that everyone has a chance to enter the discussion and if one or two can’t come, there’s still enough of you to have an interesting meeting. There are currently around fifty book groups in the Borough.


The books in the collection run from classics and Nobel prize-winners to film tie-ins and popular biographies. When selecting titles we look for plot themes and characters that are accessible, exciting and original: the main criterion is to find something that will stimulate discussion, get a conversation started. We also try to choose titles where other formats are available, for those for whom large print, audiobooks or e-books are easier to use.


We aim to add ten new sets a year, fifteen copies to each set, generally in a paperback edition.

Take a step into the unknown – join a book group! Or start one of your own……….

Find out more at

[Penelope Tarnowski, Librarian]