Beyond the Book: Mass Reading Events and Contemporary Cultures of Reading

Mass reading events – ‘Richard & Judy's Book Club,’ ‘One Book, One Chicago’ – are a new, proliferating literary phenomenon that remains uninvestigated. They raise important questions: why do they cause people to come together to share reading? Do they attract marginalized communities, foster new reading practices, enable social change? Our interdisciplinary project produces a trans-national analysis of contemporary shared reading practices, the formation of reading communities and the popular function of literary fiction in the UK, USA and Canada. Addressing a significant knowledge-gap in literary scholarship, it incorporates practical guidelines of relevance to cultural policy makers.

Principal investigator
Dr Danielle Fuller
Principal project staff
Dr Danielle Fuller; Dr DeNel Rehberg Sedo
Start date
Thursday, September 1, 2005
Completion date
Monday, September 1, 2008
Source material
(i) Website: text and images written and produced by the project team. (ii) Source for datasets = Questionnaire (Survey) designed by project team under direction of Dr DeNel Rehberg Sedo. Survey contained 39 tick-box and 15 open-ended questions; was available in 3 languages (English, French and Spanish); was posted for 6 weeks at a time on our website as each mass reading event was running (beg. Oct 2005; last ran June 2007). Convenience sampling, advertising and the team's social and professional networks were used to publicise the survey in each location. Original documents for survey are held by Dr Danielle Fuller, University of Birmingham, UK and Dr DeNel Rehberg Sedo, Mount Saint Vincent University, Canada.
Data formats

Fuller, Danielle & Rehberg Sedo, DeNel. 2006. ‘A Reading Spectacle for the Nation: The CBC and “Canada Reads.”’ Journal of Canadian Studies. 40.1 (Winter): 5-36.

Fuller, Danielle. 2007a. Listening to the Readers of "Canada Reads". Canadian Literature. 193 (Summer) 2007: 11-34.

Fuller, Danielle. 2007b. ‘Beyond CanLit(e): Reading. Interdisciplinarity. Trans-Atlantically.’ TransCanada 2: Literatures, Institutions, Citizenship. Article & plenary presentation. Accessible at:

Fuller, Danielle. 2007c. ‘Beyond the Book: Researching Reading in an Event-Based Culture.’ (30 mins; Nov) [Podcast]

Fuller, Danielle. 2008. 'Reading as Social Practice: The Beyond the Book research project.' Journal of Popular Narrative Media 1.2: 211-217.

Rehberg Sedo, DeNel. 2008. 'RICHARD & JUDY'S BOOK CLUB AND 'CANADA READS': Readers, books and cultural programming in a digital era.' Information, Communication and Society. 11.2:188-206.

Special Issue of Journal of Popular Narrative Media 1.2 (2008). Edited by Nikkianne Moodie. Includes revised papers from the 'Beyond the Book' conference.

Special issue of Particip@tions: Journal of Audience and Reception Studies 5.2. (2008) Guest Edited by Dru Pagliassotti. Journal Editor: Martin Barker. More revised papers from the Beyond the Book conference. Available at:

Fuller, Danielle and James Procter. 2009. 'Reading as "social glue"? Book Groups, Multiculture, and the Small Island Read 2007. 'Region/Writing/Home: Relocating Diasporic Writing in Britain.' Spec. Issue, Moving Worlds: Journal of Transcultural Writings. 9.2: 26-40. Available in the UBIRA archive,

Lang, Anouk. 2009. 'Reading race in Small Island: discourse deviation, schemata and the textual encounter.' Language and Literature 18: 316-330.

Lang, Anouk. 2009. ‘“Enthralling but at the same time disturbing”: Challenging the readers of Small Island.’ Journal of Commonwealth Literature 44.2: 123-140.