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Livening up lunch breaks with literature


If the scheme had a slogan, it might be "the company that reads together succeeds together". At least 100 workplace reading groups have grown out of "Orange Talks Books at Work" - this year’s education initiative from the Orange Prize for Fiction, and part of the government’s Year of Reading - and have brought some surprising pleasures to their members.

Besides the obvious one of discovering books they might not otherwise have read, they comment on the social pleasure of getting together with fellow employees for stimulating discussions that have little to do with work. There’s a further bonus: "You meet people you wouldn’t otherwise meet," says Linda Semple, who set up the two groups now running at Lothian Health Authority. "We have senior management mixing with office administrators… and a surprisingly equal division between men and women, which is unusual. Often social reading groups not connected with work tend to be dominated by women."

The scheme provides information and advice to employers who want to encourasge reading groups at work, or to employees wanting to take the initiative themselves. It also offers generous discounts on books included in "recommended reading" lists, and on bulk purchases through a partnership with internet bookstore

Orange Talks Books at Work is planning to launch a competition early next year, with a possible £1,000 prize, to find the best company book club.

Companies wanting to register for the scheme can do so by calling 07970 111888 or online at


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