Southend-On-Sea Big Readers Bookgroup

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This is the web site of the Southend-On-Sea "big readers" book group. The group was originally started in 2003 by friends working for a software company called Rebus (now part of Xchanging) and inspired by a BBC series called the "Big Read" which was shown on television that year. The BBC conducted a poll open to all ages and types of readers to find the UK's top 100 favourite works of fiction. More details about the BBC project can be found here:- BBC Big Read

Our group has been meeting once a month, every month since then to discuss one (or very occasionally more) of the top 100 books and in June 2011 we were able to celebrate the completion of the original list and this web site was launched. Since then we have been striking out on our own with some self selected titles. Members of the group take turns to offer five choices to the others and the rules we are currently following are that at least one must be a pre 20th century work and at least one a book which the chooser has not read. We all vote on the options and a diferent group member is elected to lead the meeting for the selected book to mix things up a bit.

We meet in various locations but usually in Leigh-On-Sea despite the name of the group! The "leader" for the monthly session begins with a brief biography of the author and some background about the book before opening up the discussion. At the end of the meeting we all score the book based on a number of literary qualities. Then we select the next book, usually following the plan explained above but sometimes by agreement of the whole group if there is some special reason we all would like to read a book. We try to maintain a rolling programme with a three month horizon. These are the categories we use to score books we have read:-

Scoring CategoryNotes
PlotWas it a well constructed story? Did the events in the book make sense in their own terms? Was the plot enthralling?
CharacterisationDid you think the characters were successful creations? Were they believable and engaging? Did they react to the events in the book in the way you’d expect them to? Did you feel involved with their triumphs and tragedies?
SceneryDid the book give you a sense of place? Were items, events and society described in a vivid and interesting manner? Did you have a clear mental picture of the story "background". How important was it to the book as a whole?
Writing style and structure What did you think of the way the book was written? Was the language appropriate? Was it easy to read or florid and overly complex? What about the length of chapters and the way the book was split up? Did any “experimental” features of the way the tale was told work for you or not?
PhilosophyWas the book thought provoking? Did it explore ideas that you found interesting? Has it influenced the way you think about the world?
UnputdownabilityWas this a “page turner”? How gripped were you by the book?
OverallGeneral mark out of 10 for the book. How much you liked it.

Although we have had a number of people leave and join us over the years the policy of the group has been to open it by invitation only for interested family and friends known to existing group members. This is mainly because there is a limit to the number of people who can fit round a table and all contribute without the discussion fragmenting. We are not actively seeking any new members at the moment.

If you are reading this and thinking you might like to join a group, you can find information about public groups here:- Public Book Groups

The purpose of this web site is to record the group history and our own scoring for the interest of members. A major new release of the site database and software has just been launched at the time of writing allowing all group members to now add and edit the books and to update their own scores (previously this had to be done by the site administrator).

David Worton - 14th June : 2012

New for 2024!

I've used a free account at Story Graph to create some snapshot graphics of the books the group has read and I've put together a quick Google Site with the results on it which you can find here... Southend Big Readers : The Stories So Far

David Worton - 13th June : 2024