‘finding out what connects us, revelling in our differences; this is the process that brings us closer, that gives us a world of shared values, of meaningful community’bell hooks
The Reading Room believes in the power of literature to mobilise communities and create movements. In collaboration with Pluto Books and Left Book Club, it is a network of creative communities and activist groups with a shared goal: to empower people within their local communities. As well as physical library spaces, The Reading Room creates forums to discuss and discover current issues that affect everyday lives.
Using books to influence exhibitions, events, workshops and talks, The Reading Room animates writing into action, opening up dialogue around inequality, employment, housing, justice against racism, and queer liberation. Grassroot groups have the opportunity to work directly with authors.
These initiatives continue to develop in new and exciting ways, supporting communities across the UK and beyond to tell their stories. The network currently includes organisations in Cardiff, Peterborough, Leeds, Newcastle, Brighton, Manchester, Southend, Sheffield and Rotterdam.
In 2022, The Reading Room delivered The Anti-Capitalist Fashion Week based on Tansy E Hoskin’s ‘The Anti-Capitalist Book of Fashion’. During this week, organisations across the UK hosted a series of events which highlighted alternative ways of thinking, seeing and wearing fashion. In particular, the series of events strived to uplift underrepresented voices, building spaces for local residents to engage with the key topics of our time, including decolonialism, the environment and sustainability.
Generating conversations between academics, activists, artists and local residents, The Reading Room continues to establish key coalitions between various groups. During this difficult period of rising social and economic inequality, these contributions to public life strive to transform our understanding of ‘community care’, allowing new perspectives to join the debate and meaningful solidarity to form.