Bakers, books and Birkbeck - promoting reading skills

During the pandemic lots of entertainment moving to on-line platforms; virtual garden tours, choirs and concerts so it’s no surprise to see book clubs adapting too.

Quick Reads

In May the Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU) decided it would be a good idea to jump on the book club bandwagon, and as luck would have it unionlearn were in the process of setting one up.

Matt Pointon, National Projects Officer with unionlearn, had contacted several unions and floated the idea of people taking part in an on-line book club pilot with unionlearn & Birkbeck College Book Club, facilitated by Matt; Nandita Sirker, a learning mentor from Birkbeck with a history of Trade Union involvement; and Sophie Swain, Outreach and Access Officer.

Karen Plasom, BFAWU Learning Services Project Works explained:

The aim was to start running the club once a fortnight to give people chance to complete the book. This could be changed to suit the groups other commitments. The initial meeting would be held after office hours with the group having a discussion on best fit for everyone.”

Using Quick Reads as a starting point, the basic idea was to read a book and then meet on-line to discuss it, what it meant to them and what, if any, memories it evoked.

Matt said,

Whilst we would prefer for members to read the entire book, we are prepared to have them select a chapter and then we can provide a summary of the whole text.”

The first read was, ‘This Is Going to Hurt’ by Adam Kay, who worked as a junior doctor before going on to be a comedian and writer for film and television. It gives an insight into the life of a junior doctor written in diary form.

The second read was, ‘Notting Hill Carnival: A West Side Story’ by Candice Carty-Williams. This told the story of gangs and the fight to be ‘top dog’ where people used fear to get respect; it also tells of how a gang member strives to turn their back on being a leader and make something of her life as well as her love story with a member of a rival gang.

‘Knots and Crosses’ by Ian Rankin is set in the tenements of Edinburgh and introduces us to Detective Sargent John Rebus a former SAS member with an estranged wife and daughter, trying to juggle his personal life with catching the killer of young girls that are being abducted and murdered. Rebus, as a character, seems to be very complex, towing the line one minute but, if pushed, could easily cross it.

Karen is keen to see others get involved with Book Clubs and said:

Why not start a group at work? The BFAWU Learning Services and unionlearn have a range of Quick Reads that can accessed to get you started, don’t be shy - JUST ASK!”

For information on starting your own reading group the Reading Agency has provided information.

Ready to Read – Promoting the use of Quick Reads in the workplace is a guide for union learning reps to help encourage reading for pleasure.