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North Ayrshire Readers’ Day

A Readers’ Day is an annual event in the calendar of North Ayrshire’s library service, usually held in November, but this year in August.  I’d heard from acquaintances that these events were excellent but, despite being a book lover, had never attended one.  When you work full-time, Saturdays are precious and must be spent carefully.  However, my friend assured me that I would enjoy it and I decided to give it a try.

The event was chaired by children’s author Keith Charters.  Four authors: Karen Campbell, Ken MacLeod, Louise Welsh and Russel D. McLean led morning and afternoon discussion groups.  When applying for the Readers’ Day you specify which group you want to join.  The application form is available on the library’s website and you should apply several weeks in advance as you are expected to read two books in readiness for the discussions.  The books are selected by the authors; one of their own and the other a book the author admires.  The books are supplied on loan by the library to the readers.

Ken MacLeod is a science fiction writer and I decided to choose his group just for something different as normally I avoid this genre.  Not surprisingly, the book Ken admired was by another sci-fi writer but I took my double dose willingly.  I enjoyed his sessions and it was interesting hearing about Ken’s background and what sparked his interest in this particular genre.  I can’t say I’m a convert to science fiction, but I can now appreciate why others find it fascinating.

Between the discussion sessions we spent time listening to the authors talk about their writing lives and we were free to ask questions.  The atmosphere was relaxed and friendly.  We also listened to two guest speakers talk briefly about books that meant a great deal to them.  There was also free time to chat among ourselves and make new friends.  This is an event you can happily attend on your own.

Waterstone’s book shop had a stall with a selection of books by the guest authors and lots of others too.  An extra feature was a book swap stall, which I thought was an excellent idea.

Lunch, coffee, tea and home baking were included in the overall charge for the event which was a modest £8.50.   The food was plentiful and of excellent quality.    I would happily have paid more.   I’m already looking forward to next year’s Readers’ Day.

Frances Smith

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