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July’s Stories and Poems

Written by Rachael Norris, 8th July 2021

Earlier this year we ran a Learning Workshop focused on reading novels in Shared Reading groups, it was wonderful to see such enthusiasm for exploring novels and longer works amongst Reader Leaders.

Inspired by this Learning Workshop, all of the prose selections in this month’s Stories and Poems pack are the first chapters of books and novels. If you’re thinking of beginning a novel with your group, using these first chapters could be a good way of testing the waters – perhaps one of them might go on to be your group’s next long read.


These extracts take us from the 17th century all the way to the present day, charting the intricate details of everyday life, relationships with family, friends and workmates – and even to the natural world around us. There is joviality, friction and an insight into what is like to be an outsider in a strict moral society; all kinds of life and experience are to be found.

July’s extracts are:

Gilead (first section) by Marilynne Robinson

The Living Mountain (Chapter 1: The Plateau) by Nan Shepherd

Adam Bede (Chapter 1: The Workshop) by George Eliot

Persuasion by Jane Austen

The Scarlet Letter (Chapter 1: The Prison Door) by Nathaniel Hawthorne

July’s poem choices open a window to the world outside, as we look to the sky and travel over water; good accompaniments to summer days, whether we are taking a staycation or simply sitting in a garden or park. Other selections look at the self, letting us know that it is okay to release a wave of sudden emotion, to forgive ourselves and keep on doing so throughout our lives, and to search other places and worlds to find out more about who we are.

‘Clouds’ by Elizabeth Jennings

‘A Journey’ by Edward Field

‘The Prelude (Book 1 – Lines 372 – 402)’ by William Wordsworth

‘Because of Libraries We Can Say These Things’ by Naomi Shihab Nye

‘Phase One’ by Dilruba Ahmed

If you're a Reader Leader head to the Online Community Hub to download this month's selection.

Several of July’s selections come from The Reader Bookshelf, if you’re looking for further recommendations why not take a look at the list in full.

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