This month, we asked Off the Record to write a guest blog about their book club.
“Off the Record is a charity which provides free mental health support and information to 11-25 year olds in Bristol and South Gloucestershire. As well as providing 1:1 counselling, we provide a wide range of services, projects and groups around the local area. We are dedicated to promoting and improving mental health and wellbeing amongst young people.
Every month Off the Record run a Book Club for 16-25 year olds which, in collaboration with Give a Book, provides free books to keep and discuss. The Book Club is held at The Hydra Book Shop in Bristol’s Old Market, a safe place for young people to gather and meet like-minded book-lovers, as well as read titles they may not have previously considered. Each month we each select three book choices and run a Doodle Poll to vote for our top choice.
This month, we read The Secrets of Happiness by Lucy Diamond. It was a surprising discovery for those of us who had certain pre-conceived notions of what it would be about. Like a lot of chick-lit, it was warm and engaging. But instead of the key focus being a romantic entanglement, it focused on each character’s individual search for happiness, whatever that entailed. Any romance was simply a beneficial by-product of these life choices, and was a refreshing turn. In the group we discussed our expectations of the book versus the reality. After chatting about the characters we identified most with and why, we discussed what makes each of us happy. It was a lovely way to end the group and brought some really positive topics to light.
Testimonials from the group:
The book club has been such a great experience. It has meant that I’ve been able to read some amazing books. Many of which I may not have discovered or even picked up had they not been part of the book club. Even more than this, the book club has meant that I have been able to meet and connect with amazingly lovely people. The discussions we have in the book club are always really enjoyable. It’s great to share ideas and hear other perspectives on the books we read. Lily
I really enjoy the book club! I’m reading books I’d have never picked out for myself, and even the books I’ve hated (though there’s not been many!) have been oddly satisfying. But more than anything else, I don’t think I’d go back as often as I have if I didn’t genuinely enjoy going and chatting about the books! Everyone is so much fun. And far from feeling like something awkward we’re being forced into on the promise of free books. It’s definitely felt like meeting up with friends. Vicky”
Thanks to Off the Record for their blog.