Wimbledon Village Reading Group is a friendly, local book club drawing its members from all over south west London. We’ve been reading and chatting since the tail of 2012 and now have some 180 members although the number regularly attending is much smaller – most of our meets are about 10 to 15 people. Some of us have become old hands, and firm friends.,
The reading group is open to everyone regardless of age, gender, race, whatever,and new members and guests are always welcome (really!)
Book Group Meetings
The group meets regularly on the last Thursday of each month at 7.30 pm, usually at Light on the Common in Wimbledon Village. In June each year we usually try to find an alternative venue as the hoards of tennis fans who inhabit the Village during Wimbledon fortnight flood into the local restaurants and bars, giving the usually quietish village something approaching a carnival atmosphere. Delightful in so many other ways, the happy sounds of tennis fans can make it difficult to sustain a group conservation on the series topic of reading!
There are also occasional ‘extra special’ meetings, outside of the usually monthly pattern, usually arranged on an ad hoc basis because a small group of members want to read and discuss a particular book which can’t be fitted into regular meeting (so many books to choose from, so little time…).
In January 2016, for one of ‘extra special’ meetings, we read Owen Jones’ The Establisment. Those who made it enjoyed the political nature of the discussion so much have we’ve decided, on a trail basis, to hold quarterly ‘political specials’ in a place appropriate to the chosen book. Details of these (and all meetings) are announced via the Wimbledon Village Reading Group meet up webpages.
There’s also a very, very occasional newsletter which reflects on the books we’ve read recently and highlights local literary and bookish events which member may find interesting.
The Books We Read
It’s an eclectic mixture – classic and contemporary fiction, thrillers, biography, history, travel, more fiction – with few no go areas (one of the delights of the reading group is the encouragement it gives to reading beyond your comfort zone) but it’s fair to say that chicklit, romantic and pulp fiction hasn’t featured much. In fact, not at all, yet. Books are usually selected two months ahead of discussion, hopefully giving everyone sufficient time to read. There is no requirement to finish the book to attend a meet up (or indeed read it at all) but beware, the discussion will be no holes barred and it’s likely that there will be spoilers galore and you’ll find out what happens next). Occasionally we choose to read two books, particular if they are slim volumes and somehow complement each other. A complete list of group choices to date can be found here.
Books are usually chosen by consensus at a meeting and everyone can come along with suggestions and make a pitch for the next group read but there’s no pressure to do so – we usually have so many suggestions that the tough call is making the choice, not finding suggestions. Sometimes the suggestions made sound really interesting but for some reason are not selected as a group read. The occasional newsletter which appears on these pages tries to keep track of these great books as some members may choose to read them anyway.
More than Reading?
Occasionally we have extra meetings and other outings (where these take place somewhere other than Light on the Common we sometimes have to impose an maximum number of attendees – when this happens, places are always allocated on a first come, first served basis). We’ve had authors come along when we’re discussing their books, which is always fun and enlightening and adds an extra dimension to the discussion. But it’s all very relaxed and informal and members can do as much or as little as they like.
Joining and Keeping Up-to-date
New members are always welcome and, we hope, feel they are made very welcome! Anyone over the age of 18 can join (the age restriction is only there because (a) sometimes we read adult material and (b) we meet in a licensed venue. Members are very welcome to bring under 18s along as guests, provided they take responsibility for their reading and drinking choices. To join, sign up here. Meetings and reading choices are announced on the group’s homepage on MeetUp.com. If you sign up via meetup.com you can opt to receive emails to alert you to new meetings, book choices etc.
Wimbledon Village Reading Group also has its very own, very occasional, newsletter.
There are no joining or attendance fees (which means no fees at all) to join or participate. It does cost a little to maintain the group’s site on MeetUp. Those members who chose to purchase books via Amazon are encouraged to do via the links of on this site and in the newsletters – the affiliate fees generated help offset these costs.
Light on the Common makes a fantastic venue for our book club. The staff are endlessly accommodating and nothing is too much trouble. The food is good, and reasonably priced. The dishes change from time to time but here’s a sample menu. But there’s no obligation to eat – if you just want to come along and join the discussion, that’s great too.
Light on the Common, 48 High Street, Wimbledon, SW19 5AX (see location on Google maps)
The book group usually occupies on the the long tables towards the back of the restaurant, but if you’re looking for us just keep an eye out for the piles of books (or ask one of the the staff who know us well!)