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 (4+)

Caversham Critics: The Appeal by Janice Hallett

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Written in emails, texts and evidence. Can you solve the crime?


There is a mystery to solve in the sleepy town of Lower Lockwood. It starts with the arrival of two secretive newcomers, and ends with a tragic death. Roderick Tanner QC has assigned law students Charlotte and Femi to the case. Someone has already been sent to prison for murder, but he suspects that they are innocent. And that far darker secrets have yet to be revealed...

Throughout the amateur dramatics society's disastrous staging of All My Sons and the shady charity appeal for a little girl's medical treatment, the murderer hid in plain sight. The evidence is all there, waiting to be found. But will Charlotte and Femi solve the case? Will you?

The standout debut thriller of 2021 that delivers multiple brilliant twists, and will change the way you think about the modern crime novel.

SciFi: Gateway by Frederik Pohl

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We will be reading... Gateway by Frederik Pohl.

Wealth ... or death. Those were the choices Gateway offered. Humans had discovered this artificial spaceport, full of working interstellar ships left behind by the mysterious, vanished Heechee.

Their destinations are preprogrammed. They are easy to operate, but impossible to control. Some came back with discoveries which made their intrepid pilots rich; others returned with their remains barely identifiable. It was the ultimate game of Russian roulette, but in this resource-starved future there was no shortage of desperate volunteers.

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)

Picnic Bookclub. A Long Petal of the Sea by Isabel Allende

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Weather permitting we will have a picnic. Bring some picnic food to share and something to drink.

We will be reading A Long Petal of the Sea by Isabel Allende.

Victor Dalmau is a young doctor when he is caught up in the Spanish Civil War, a tragedy that leaves his life - and the fate of his country - forever changed. Together with his sister-in-law, the pianist Roser, he is forced out of his beloved Barcelona and into exile.

When opportunity to seek refuge arises, they board a ship chartered by the poet Pablo Neruda to Chile, the promised 'long petal of sea and wine and snow'. There, they find themselves enmeshed in a rich web of characters who come together in love and tragedy over the course of four generations, destined to witness the battle between freedom and repression as it plays out across the world.

A masterful work of historical fiction that soars from the Spanish Civil War to the rise and fall of Pinochet, A Long Petal of the Sea is Isabel Allende at the height of her powers.

Caversham Critics: Book tbc

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Past events (379)

Caversham Critics: Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor

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Photos (60)