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Findings summary - extracted from final report to AHRC, November 2008.

In the era of digital information and the e-book, the reading and sharing of printed books remains a highly valued activity for keen readers. Participants in mass reading events (MREs) that employ the 'One Book, One Community' model are motivated not only by the desire to learn about "the 'why' behind the book" including the author's biography and writing process, but also by a longing for face-to-face community, even if this only consists of a brief encounter with a fellow reader on a bus. However, avid readers can be suspicious about MREs.

Mass-mediated events such as 'Richard & Judy's Book Club', for example, shift the reading of print fiction into the sphere of popular culture. Many readers in Beyond the Book: Mass Reading Events and Contemporary Cultures of Reading in the UK, USA and Canada distrust the successful branding of the televised book club and its use of celebrity endorsement, even while they approve of the Club's attempts to promote reading widely.

MREs can successfully re-invest the reading of literary fiction with a sense of fun while finding creative ways of connecting to readers of different ages and backgrounds. Camp-outs in public parks, writing competitions, cooking lessons and even literary pub crawls are among the less obvious activities aimed at making reading an enjoyable and sociable activity. However, the spaces in which some events take place (libraries, arts centres, town halls) are often perceived as unfamiliar and unwelcome to people who are newly arrived immigrants. Some 'One Book, One Community' programmes attempt to overcome exclusion by partnering with agencies supporting asylum seekers, seniors, and other socially marginalized groups. Other MREs employ visual arts, music, and oral storytelling to supplement the focus on print literacy, a strategy which can lead to the involvement of non-readers and reluctant readers in 'One Book' activities.

Report on One Book, One Community, Kitchener/Cambridge/Waterloo, ON, Canada
9/11/04

This report, by Drs Danielle Fuller & DeNel Rehberg Sedo, was submitted to the organizing committee of the Kitchener/Waterloo/Cambridge One Book, One Community programme.

Members of the KWC organizing committee commented that:

"2005 proved to be a very successful year, we made a really radical choice - we selected a work of science fiction, we are the first community to do this. The response was great and what the community discovered is that SF is first and foremost, a literature of ideas."

and

"Our region's OBOC had a really good year ... we went out on a limb and chose a science fiction book and the response was better than we expected. The numbers are still being tallied but we had more readers this year than ever before!!! And we caught a broader range of people, esp. men of all age groups."

Report to the KWC Committee