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Here's everything you need to know

Q) What is The Reader Bookshelf?

The short answer is:

A collection of texts that we think will inspire and excite you, and really hope you can enjoy.

The slightly longer answer is:

An annual programme of carefully curated literature to support all of our reading-based work and the wider Reading Revolution.  We’ve created it to help our supporters, volunteers, staff and readers have a shared constellation of things to read or structure projects around.


Q) Ok, but what’s it for?

We hope The Reader Bookshelf will be a source of inspiration and conversation across our organisation, communities and the wider world. It will be used to support our reading based work, including Shared Reading groups, teaching and training, and programmes and events, both online and at Calderstones.


Q) What’s on The Reader Bookshelf?

All sorts! We’ve included works of fiction, plays and non-fictional prose, anthologies, poems, short stories and children’s books. You can view the full list here.


Q) What is this year’s theme and what does it mean?

Our theme for 2022 – 2023 is Light and Darkness. As we emerge from a global pandemic and a turbulent time of change, this year’s Bookshelf offers some ways in to thinking about the complications of emerging into light and life again as well as the nourishment or realisations felt during darkness and night. Among the books included there might be old favourites, unknown quantities, or books you’d never imagined reading before – but all are worth reading and re-reading, as a string of lights guiding us through the wonders and complexities of our life and times.


Q) Who picks what goes on The Reader Bookshelf?

Staff, supporters and volunteers have helped select the texts for The Reader Bookshelf. The Literature Directorate (a team at The Reader HQ) curated the initial texts to form the core bookshelf but we hope to add to, and expand, the bookshelf throughout the year.


Q) Will The Reader Bookshelf grow?

Most definitely! We want our entire community – and beyond – to contribute to the bookshelf. We’d hope to fill an entire bookcase by the end of the year, with up to 100 texts added for people to explore. We’ll be asking groups for poems and short stories that fit the theme and that can go into our anthologies.


Q) How can I access books or poems from The Reader Bookshelf?

We’ll provide copies of texts from The Reader Bookshelf for Shared Reading groups and will also stock copies in our bookshop in Calderstones. If you run a Shared Reading group and would like to get hold of any books, please email

We’ll also include books and poems from the collection in our magazine and podcast, so you can dip in and out of the conversation throughout the year.


Q) I’m a Reader Leader – do I have to explore texts from The Reader Bookshelf in my sessions?

No, every Reader Leader is free to read whatever they want, as they have always been. But if you want a suggestion, you can always browse the bookshelf.