What we're about

Caversham Critics is a Reading-based book club. We are a friendly, welcoming group of people who love reading and talking about books. We read a real variety of books; from 18th Century classics to modern bestsellers, Booker prize winners and everything between. Our only criteria is that it should be good and should provoke discussion. In the last year we have read titles including the following:

Melmoth- Sarah Perry

The Handmaids Tale- Margaret Atwood

Circe- Madeline Millar

The Fishermen- Chigozie Obioma

Under the Skin- Michael Faber

Convenience Store Woman- Sayaka Murata

Ghost Wall- Sarah Moss

3 Women- Lisa Taddeo

The Binding- Bridget Collins

We welcome all readers, and actively encourage people of all races, beliefs and sexuality to take part.

We meet every month, on the first Monday. The conversation is quite informal and we go around the group discussing the reasons we liked, or disliked the book and talking about any themes and topics it raised. We sometimes agree, often disagree and the conversation is always interesting.

After the discussion we pick the next book to read (for 2 months time). Everyone is free to suggest a title, (or titles) and give an outline of the book and why they are suggesting it. The group votes and the winning book becomes the next choice. Using this method means we not only get a variety of titles on our reading list, but it's also a truly democratic process. If a book doesn't get picked, it can be suggested again; some of our recent great reads have won after a couple of months of just missing out in the vote.

We tend to pick 'non-genre' books. There is a science fiction splinter group which caters for this, who meet every 6 weeks, you will see their meetups and details on our page as well.

We do have a set of rules/guidelines that we ask people to follow. We ask people to bear these in mind when suggesting a book to make the group an inclusive, accessible and fun group to be part of.


-Books should be less than 400 pages. Slightly over is OK, but this length means people have the time to read it. (The Sci Fi group has a longer limit of 500 as it meets every 6 weeks.)

-Books should not be part of a series/volume. This means readers don't miss out on part of the story.

-Books should be available in paperback and easily sourced from the usual book shops and websites.

-Books that contain writing with certain themes that may put off, or even trigger people should be flagged well in advance. This is important as content such as violence, abuse or other emotive subjects can be distressing to read. With this in mind, please make sure that if you suggest a book which may be distressing to some readers, please mention when you make your suggestion in the meeting. The onus is on the person making the suggestion to either have read or to have done some research into the book before suggesting it. There are resources such as https://www.doesthedogdie.com/ and https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1PHlA7QglPpKRbOVEKc_0BCjRmZ8PWPLr3t_wMnggsAg/edit#gid=214254319 which may help this. Publishers sometimes include trigger warning information as a link on their websites or as a QR code inside the front or back cover of the book.

This last rule is important as we want to be mindful of suggesting people read content that may affect them adversely.

To cover the costs of being hosted by the meetup website we charge a small fee of £1 per meeting attended- you can choose how to pay based on what suits you and how many times you plan to attend. There is no cost for your first meetup, so do come and try us for free!

Upcoming events (5)

The Many by Wyl Menmuir

Online event

A remote, unidentified village on the north Cornwall coast, out of season, and disturbingly out of time, is the setting for Wyl Menmuir’s slim debut, a surprising inclusion on this year’s Man Booker longlist. Menmuir’s homespun horror has flashes of Daphne du Maurier’s ghost-gothic and John Wyndham’s dystopia while displaying its own individuality and flair. It’s the second Booker listing for independent publisher Salt, which initially made its name with a poetry list, now discontinued – although its editorial taste continues to veer in this direction, as Menmuir’s writing indicates. Read the full Guardian review here (no spoilers) https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/aug/04/the-many-wyl-menmuir-review?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

SciFi: 'The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde' by

In a book club first, the title to our next book is so long I can't fit the author in the meetup name! This is of course the classic by Robert Louis Stevenson - and particularly if you can aim to read the Penguin classics edition (goodreads link below) which contains three additional short stories - 'The Body Snatcher', 'Olalla' and 'The Beast Within' https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/51497.The_Strange_Case_of_Dr_Jekyll_and_Mr_Hyde_and_Other_Tales_of_Terror Stevenson's famous exploration of humanity's basest capacity for evil, has become synonymous with the idea of a split personality. More than a moral tale, this dark psychological fantasy is also a product of its time, drawing on contemporary theories of class, evolution, criminality, and secret lives. Caversham Critics SciFi section meets every 6 weeks (barring unforeseen circumstances)

The Good Terrorist: Doris Lessing

Online event

*December is usually our ‘Secret Santa’ month, where critics bring a wrapped book to anonymously swap with each other as a Christmas gift. We will have to do it differently this year, but we will find a way! Santa will be in touch...* The Good Terrorist by Doris Lessing A group of squatters rebel against Mrs Thatcher and erupt into violence in this politicised novel. In a London squat a band of bourgeois revolutionaries are united by a loathing of the waste and cruelty they see around them. These maladjusted malcontents try desperately to become involved in terrorist activities far beyond their level of competence. Only Alice seems capable of organising anything. Motherly, practical and determined, she is also easily exploited by the group and ideal fodder for a more dangerous and potent cause. Eventually their naïve radical fantasies turn into a chaos of real destruction, but the aftermath is not as exciting as they had hoped. Nonetheless, while they may not have changed the world, their lives will never be the same again…

SciFi: Book to be determined by lottery

Back of Beyond

We will be reading...[ Book to be determined by lottery ] Caversham Critics SciFi section meets every 6 weeks (barring unforeseen circumstances). Submit book suggestions here... (https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1nHHZaeiJRuLPp9zBe5t_pFSLDoHsmlG-klH62SYQ33E/edit?usp=sharing)

Past events (346)

The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley

Online event

Photos (58)