Beyond the Book: Mass reading events and contemporary cultures of reading in the UK, USA and Canada

Beyond the Book: Mass Reading Events and Contemporary Cultures of Reading in the UK, USA and Canada was a three-year interdisciplinary research project funded primarily by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, 2005-8.

Beyond the Book project logo

The project was an investigation of 'mass reading events' - our name for programmes such as 'Liverpool Reads''One Book, One Chicago' and even 'Richard and Judy's Book Club'.

Mass reading events (MREs) are a relatively new, proliferating literary phenomenon. They aim to involve as many people as possible in reading, discussing or participating in activities associated with a selected book, rather like a book club but on a much larger scale: city-, region- or even nation-wide. These reading events raise important questions: why do people to come together to share reading? Do they attract marginalized communities, foster new reading practices, enable social change?

Our project investigated these issues using a range of methods. We drew upon the online questionnaire responses of more than 3,500 readers and fieldwork studies of eight 'One Book, One Community' programmes and two nation-wide mass-mediated events: 'Richard & Judy's Book Club' on UK television and 'Canada Reads', a radio series. In addition to the analysis of media reports and promotional material of the events, our conclusions are based on 57 face-to-face focus groups with 200 readers and 72 interviews with event organizers in the UK, the USA and Canada.

Project Team

  • Dr Danielle Fuller (PI)
  • Dr DeNel Rehberg Sedo (Co-I, Mount Saint Vincent University, Canada)
  • Dr Anouk Lang (Postdoctoral Fellow)
  • Dr Anna Burrells (Research Administrator)

External resources


Key outcomes and events included: