Reading Between the Wines

June 3, 2017

Reading Between the Wines

Literary lovers are bonding over drinks and good reads. Photo: Katie Tomasi Edwards

On the first Thursday of each month young like-minded individuals are meeting up at cosy bars around Central Auckland to discuss undiscovered literature over a glass of bubbly.

Laura Caygill, community library manager for Highland Park, Auckland Council said she created the idea for Reading Between the Wines in 2016 from her own experience of struggling to meet people when she first moved to Auckland.

“I could see a real gap in our services for people in their 20s and 30s. I wanted to create a book group for this age group with a strong focus on the social element of it, making a safe space where people could talk about books and meet new people.”

She said it made sense to hold the meet-ups in a location people already wanted to go to, rather than the local library branch.

“We started out going to different bars each month just to test them out, thinking we would find one that worked well and stick with it but people told us they really liked having a different venue each month. It’s a good way to get to know different bars around the central suburbs.”

Group member Kimberley Alford, 45, stumbled upon the group one evening, and was not at all daunted by the realisation it was targeted towards younger people.

“It was the ultimate new concept of a mobile library. The idea of drinking wine chatting over books is great and I really liked that age didn’t seem to matter.”

However, avid bookworm Seerwan Ali said gender could be a factor.

“I’d say it’s about 70 per cent women who come. I don’t know why that is because men read in similar proportions. For some reason they just don’t show up to such gatherings as much.”

Ms Caygill said the response to the group had been overwhelmingly positive with the group increasing in size. The Facebook group now has more than 600 members.

“At our first get-together in 2015 we had about eight people come along and we thought that was just amazing, but now it’s really grown; we had more than 50 people drop in this month.”

She said with the magic of wifi, laptops and scanners they can make checking out books on the night really simple.

“We even have some people who like to return the books they borrowed the month before, we’re happy to help you in whatever way we can, including setting new library members up on the night.”

The library is now taking the idea further, with Ms Caygill off to Canberra next month to deliver a presentation on the concept at a conference.

“Its proven to be a simple and effective idea, lots of people are interested in how it runs, after more than 18 months we’re a well-oiled machine.”

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