Jan’s English Reading group in Berlin: What members say

“I often read books and am full of impressions and thoughts, but having nobody to share my view with. Moreover I often pick boring books when I am alone in a book store. When you join a reading group you can share your ideas about the book and discuss controversial issues. Additionally, you can rely on Jan Bild or the leader of the respective reading group to pick an interesting book (I have never been disappointed in their choice)” – Angela

Reading can change lives-opening minds across nations.

Reading groups can be found today in nearly every library in Britain. They have become very popular and are now an established part of life. English reading groups are flourishing in Berlin too-. with one outstanding feature -most members are reading in a second language. We have a unique opportunity to learn from each other. Current social and political themes regularly emerge from our reading – stimulating intercultural dialogue and encouraging mutual understanding between people from different nations and backgrounds.

Why members value the groups – Read their comments.

  • “Dear Jan,
    I just wanted to let you know that even though that I cannot come the reading groups any longer as I’m now living in Brussels most of the time, I still read the books. I really enjoy the selection!!!!!!” – Anja, 2/2012
  • “Dear Jan,
    nearly four years after my first visit to your reading group, I would like to thank you for this wonderful institution. It has certainly enriched my life, given me many interesting relaxed weeks and last but not least it has improved my English enormously” – Sigi, 2/2012
  • “Until about a year ago I would read about 2 or 3 books a year. This year it’s completely different. I’m currently reading Nr. 42. It has made my life so much richer! I’m so proud when I read the paper and in the literary section I actually know what the article is about. Also your groups are fun to go to. They are THE place to go for meeting new interesting people, they are refreshing and uplifting and and and. So, many thanks. “
  • “…I enjoyed reading” Half of a yellow sun” and now “A Thousand Splendid suns”. I am busy working in the evenings, so I cant come to one of the next groups. But please keep me informed about the books you are suggesting for the groups.”
  • “Thank you very much. I think the best books I read this year were all from the reading group. I am very grateful for all these touching books.””…Going on a weekend trip to London will probably result in less cultural exchange, than a humorous and still insightful discussion with other “reading club members”, as it often happens within this group..
  • “…It is such a great idea to make it possible for different nationalities to meet and talk about British literature. Although it might sound a bit bombastic, I am convinced that such a group helps to build bridges between different countries. It is extremely interesting to discuss cultural differences and similarities via a book that everyone has read. In fact, I can hardly imagine a better trigger for a conversation. At the same time, one is familiarized with modern English literature and of course the British culture….”
  • “…The Reading Group is very important for me, for it gives me a possiblity to learn something about British literature and British authors. I really love literature and this reading group allows me to deepen my interests. I also appreciate that I can meet with people and be able to discuss the books we’ve read. Since I joined the Reading Group I have been much more interested in British literature. The reading group encourages me to study British culture and deepen my knowledge…”
  • “…Those who already have strong bonds to Great Britain, such as teachers, people who have lived in GB, etc., are given the chance to keep in touch, others are given the chance to profit from the highly informative, intellectual, and interesting literary discussions They also help to shape their idea of what can be understood by “British”. After a reading event in the summer I had learnt about the possibility of becoming a member of such a reading club. Happily I decided to go there regularly and through this I got to know some new authors and books I would possibly not get to know otherwise…”
  • “…Moreover, it was always a special feeling to attend the group that was led by Jan Bild. She was able to encourage everybody to say his/her real opinion and connected these contributions then and added of her own in a very competent way. She also somehow represented her country in a very convincing way by just listening without interfering but also by taking her time to add her point when it was necessary…”
  • “…What was excellent, too, only several days later she would send you an E-mail summing up opinions and listing questions that were not answered and you would even get it if you did not have the time to go there yourself. This was another positive point, she kept encouraging and including you even if you could not afford the time and had to miss one reading group…”
  • “…I have been a regular member of Jan Bild’s Reading Group for more than a year, and have thoroughly enjoyed them. They are very well prepared, informative on a broad number of issues, and allow me to continue strong links with British Life and Culture…”
  • “…Regarding the Reading Groups: more then being immense fun and educational in an informal way, they have attracted a fast growing and very committed membership. The bond all individual members have forged with British literature, culture and history can’t be valued high enough…”
  • “…In this time I’ve been reading more English novels than ever before. Meeting up with people to discuss views and impressions has helped me to gain more insight into the novels and has sometimes given me a whole new perspective. Also, it has helped me to practise my English and to get to know a lot of new people…”
  • “..About six months ago, I started attending the British Council Reading Group that Jan Bild runs. I have thoroughly enjoyed and valued this experience for several reasons, including:” I have read books by British authors whom I otherwise would not have read. I have met a diverse international community of professionals because the book group draws from so many sectors of the community — British, German and other expatriates. I have felt intellectually stimulated in an English-speaking environment and my interest in reading and literature has been rekindled
  • “…I have been attending a group regularly for more than a year now and was extremely pleased to have found the opportunity to meet interesting people who share my love of (English) literature and to practice my English. What I also like is the choice of dates we are given to discuss the month’s book so that I can fit the reading group into my busy schedule more easily. Our reading group moderator (JanBild) always makes the discussions work so that everyone goes home pleased with themselves and the group…”
  • “…In my view these reading groups are a brilliant way to promote British culture and from my conversations with other reading group members (I have already convinced 3 friends to join!) I know that we all feel the same way about them…”
  • “…Every month I look forward to our meetings. I’ve always enjoyed reading books and discussing them with others, but my experience with the British Council reading groups has been very original. The members come from many different countries, offering very unique perspectives…”
  • “…I leave each meeting with a greater understanding of the chosen book of the month, but the meetings are cultural experiences as well as literary experiences. It’s always fascinating to hear how others interpreted aspects of each book based upon their own backgrounds and experiences. We discuss how our culture may influence our views, and I have begun to read much more critically now, trying to see the story from different angles as I read…”
  • “…Joining the group has also led me to pick up books by authors I had never heard of before, introducing me to a whole new reading list. I’m glad I’ve had the opportunity to participate in these groups. I came to Berlin to experience a new culture, and through my participation in the reading groups I’ve learned about various cultures. I enjoy my monthly meeting, gathered around a table with a group of wonderful people as we discuss literature and learn from each other…”
  • “…In my view, especially here in Berlin they are an ideal platform to deepen the contact of Germans and people from many other parts of the world with the English language and with British culture…”
  • “…I am since September 2005 in Berlin and I joined the group enthusiastically after hearing about it. It is a very good opportunity for keeping contact with English, meeting in a multicultural environment, learning more about contemporary English literature and culture. Such activities enrich the presence of diplomatic Authorities and I think, with reflection to the recent accident in Potsdam,are an important contribution to the cultivation of tolerance and living together in united Europe…”

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