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The Reader’s 5th Annual Bookshelf Reveals Theme of ‘Wonder’

Liverpool-based national charity The Reader has launched its fifth annual Bookshelf 2024/5 and the new theme is ‘Wonder’.

This annual collection of 24 novels, plays, poetry and non-fiction for adults, young people and children is a carefully curated list exploring a different theme each year. It is designed to inspire people to discover a diverse range of literature, old and new, including through Shared Reading.

Highlights of this year’s recommended list include Jonathan Swift’s 18th century tale of adventure Gulliver’s Travels, The Fat Lady Sings, a story of mental health by black British author Jacqueline Roy and Alive Again, a picture story for ages 3+ exploring philosophical questions about the cycles of life by award-winning Iranian author and poet Ahmadreza Ahmadi. 

There is also the aptly named Wonder, an eclectic mix of old and new poems inspired by The Natural History Museum’s collections.

All come recommended for Shared Reading by the charity’s colleagues or volunteer Reader Leaders, who are trained by The Reader to run Shared Reading groups.

Katie Clark, Director of Literature at The Reader, located in Calderstones Park, said: “This energising, hopeful theme goes to the heart of Shared Reading. ‘Wonder’ is about being bold, curious and open, not least in our reading choices. It’s about surprise and encountering other points of view. ‘Wonder’ will remind us to notice the changing seasons and the natural world, as we open the door to new experiences and connections for visitors to Calderstones Park. 

“We’ll also be thinking about what happens when wonder runs to excess, or when it runs out. ‘Wonder’ can be about the very big, or the infinitesimally small; the extraordinary and the unknown.”

Frances Macmillan, The Reader’s Head of Literary Content, said: “Our 2023 Weathering the Storm Bookshelf led to many Reader Leaders and their groups around the UK connecting with literature that was new to them, and the theme resonated with many during a challenging year. 

“The sense of new beginnings, energy and hopefulness is in-built into our new theme of ‘Wonder’ and I hope the new Bookshelf, which mixes tried and tested Shared Reading favourites with new discoveries, will open the door to many more powerful reading experiences.”

See the full list and find out more about The Reader’s new Wonder Bookshelf 2024-25.


Founder and Editor, Clare Deane, shares her passion for all the amazing things happening in Liverpool. With a love of the local Liverpool music scene, dining out a couple of times a week and immersing herself in to all things arts and culture she's in a pretty good place to create some Liverpool Noise.

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