Book Chats

We’re launching a new Book Chat group in the Library open to all Manchester Metropolitan students.

You can join us every fortnight to chat about your favourite fiction, non-fiction or poetry over free coffee and biscuits.

Our first chat will be at 2–3pm, Wednesday 7th February in All Saints Library Chat Zone.

What Are Book Chats?

Book chats are similar in format to book clubs, but crucially there doesn’t need to be a specific book which everyone in the group has to read.

When we first discussed starting a book group to support student wellbeing, we found that some book club members can be put off from attending if they haven’t read the book.

So instead of relieving stress, the club itself can become a source of it.

Book chats remove that issue by making the group about literature more generally, with a focus on chatting rather than reading. You can talk about books you love or relate to, something interesting you’ve read recently, and try out some interactive activities. We didn’t want to create more work for students — reading should be fun, after all — so the book chats are a way to reconnect with your enjoyment of reading, no matter which subject you are studying.

We’ll be working with our colleagues in Counselling, Health and Wellbeing to lead the sessions in the Library Chat Zone, so we asked them what they were looking forward to about the chats.

“We’re excited to be part of the book chats”, said Wellbeing Mentor Terri Anderson. “We regularly see students who need support to manage stress, and always advocate taking the time out to do something you enjoy. It can help you feel refreshed and better equipped to manage problems. In fact, there was a study conducted by the University of Sussex in 2009 that found reading can reduce stress by as much as 68%, which is more than listening to music or going for a walk. It also found that reading a book or an article for just six minutes can induce a slowed heart rate and reduce muscle tension.”

Bibliotherapy

Book chats are part of the growing field known as bibliotherapy, which uses literature to support good mental health. Bibliotherapy effectively codifies something generations of librarians and book lovers have assumed: that reading benefits a person’s mental health, enhances their communication skills and increases their empathy towards others. There’s now an increasing field of research into what these benefits are and a growth in bibliotherapy as an applicable technique.

“Talking about the things we read — a lyric, poem, article or good book — can have meaning and be a way to identify with other people’s experiences in a relaxed way”, said Terri. “Chatting with others who have a shared interest is often a positive thing. We are very much looking forward to getting started.”

Aside from the therapeutic benefits, the activities can also help improve communication, presentation and social skills in a safe environment. We’ve started the book chats to support our students, so we’d love to hear what you want from the sessions moving forward.

Book Chats will be in the All Saints Library Chat Zone, Wednesday 7th February 2–3pm, then every other Wednesday.

Book Chats are part of the Library’s Love To Read programme to support reading for pleasure.