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Review of The Reader

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I was sent a review copy of The Reader magazine a while back. I hadn’t heard of The Reader before so had a look at their site. They state that “The Reader Organisation is a charity dedicated to bringing about a Reading Revolution – we are making it possible for people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities to enjoy and engage with books on a deep and personal level.”

We run more than 80 weekly read aloud groups across Merseyside, in libraries, schools, GP surgeries, hospitals, Day Centres and workplaces as part of our Get Into Reading project
We were finalists in the NHS Health and Social Care Awards in January 2007
We run Liverpool Reads, a city-wide book bonanza which gave away and encouraged the reading of 13,000 books this year
We develop new culture-based social inclusion projects such as Community Shakespeare, Wirral which brought 1500 people into Birkenhead Park this summer
We publish The Reader magazine praised by Seamus Heaney as “one of the best things to thump through the letter box”
We’re turning non-readers into readers, one page at a time. What’s more, we’re connecting people, with each other, through books
The Reader Organisation is a charity dedicated to bringing about a Reading Revolution – this means great books reaching everybody – it’s our mission to engage people of all ages and backgrounds in sharing a wealth of literature. For us, reading is a force for social good that can build community and enhance lives.

The Reader Organisation works in four areas:

Reaching Out

Participation:
Get into Reading, our leading social outreach project, Liverpool Reads, Reader-in-Residence projects, and Community Shakespeare.

Training:
Read to Lead training is our accredited training programme for those who wish to develop Get Into Reading in other areas of the country.

The Reader magazine
The Reader magazine is our publication for established readers, encouraging wider and deeper reading.

We also have a blog to keep you updated with our news, book reviews, updates from the world of literature and a few, slightly more unusual things!

Reader Events
Our annual events calendar brings people together to enjoy live literature events, including the Penny Readings, Readers’ Days, Food for Thought, poetry and author readings. Keep track of what we have coming up using our Events Calendar and our News Feed.

Research and Development
Developing research through student participation; researching reading and health; delivering an MA in Reading in Practice with the School of English at the University of Liverpool.“

It all sounds terrific, and thoroughly worthy of support. I read the magazine a while ago, and intended to review it much earlier. The problem I had was that I wasn’t sure what to say. Did I like it? Maybe. How strange that I can’t tell. I loved the Camille Paglia poetry bitch fest, which was fun. The article was an extract from “Arion” so I’m not sure how indicative it is of usual Reader articles. It made me decide to buy Paglia’s “Break, Blow, Burn” though! There is a selection of good poetry, a few essays, reviews, a couple of stories, a crossword, a quiz, letters, an extract from a novel, and the final part of a serial (which having not read the previous parts I was not very interested in.) I am not sure who this magazine is aimed at. If the policy is to produce an accessible, intelligent literary magazine well, yes, this is. But who will be buying it? I wonder just how accessible and interesting it is to those who aren’t regular literary readers (it does suggest that it is for “established readers.”) It is a book rather than a magazine. It has a books price tag too at £6.95. I liked flicking through but didn’t engage much, and if I’m spending nearly seven pounds, well unless it featured favourite authors of mine I would perhaps buy myself a book instead. However, if I fancied reading a lively literary mix and maybe discovering interesting new writers, would I read again? Sure would. Would I like them to publish one of my stories in this gorgeous looking publication? Absolutely. Do I recommend it? I think so.

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