This week I’ll be starting the first of my Autumn reading groups. Lined up are two seven week courses and a day school, that means I’ll be discussing one novel and two short story collections. So alongside the writing groups that are already up and running, I shall be kept on my toes until Christmas.
I’m not complaining. What I’ve found is that these two strands compliment each other. At the first pass, I read purely as a reader, sometimes racing, at others, taking my time, getting involved with the characters: enjoying the story. It’s only after that my work starts.
I see my role as being to help a group get the most from what we’ve read. So I re-read the set piece again, and again. I delve into the writing, asking myself questions about what the author was doing. I construct a series of feasible theories, suggestions, questions and ideas that I can take in to intrigue and challenge my class with.
The interesting and intriguing thing about this process is that no matter how thoroughly I think I’ve investigated a story, when we get into a group discussion, we always find at least one more way to read it. Everyone brings their own understanding of the world to a story, and sharing our ideas opens up our perspectives. I learn loads.