NWR POSTAL BOOK GROUPS AND ME by Catharine Woodliffe
The Postal Book Groups began in 1986. I am the third Organiser, taking over in 2012, after being a member for over fifteen years.
When I started there were six Groups of 12; this has now halved. I changed from having the Groups starting at different months of the year; to having them all start on 1st April. Although this was hard to set up initially, the organisation is a lot easier as when membership changes, I can re-arrange the Groups accordingly.
How does it work?
Each Group is given an address circle with arrows indicating to whom they are to send their book.
The members each select a book to post on the 1st April and send it to their designated recipient, together with a small notebook in which others make notes. The book can be of any genre – fiction or non-fiction. I have known poetry and short stories be sent. The only things I recommend is that the book must be in print (sometimes books have been lost in the post), and is not of any personal value. The book is sent First Class in a jiffy bag with a certificate of posting which is free of charge.
On the 1st of each month, the books go on their merry way around the country until they eventually come back to their original senders.
Being a member of a Postal Book Group is like having a birthday every month, as you do not know what will drop on your mat. Sometimes you may have already read the book (very rare), and very occasionally, the same book can be sent twice within the Group. The same author and different books have also occurred.
A member of each Group keeps a list of the books and then sends it to me at the end of the year, so I can then send out the list and ask for 1st, 2nd and 3rd choices of their favourites for the year. I then work out which is the 1st, 2nd and 3rd. The way I do is to score 3 points for 1st, 2 points for 2nd and 1 point for 3rd.
NWR and me
I joined NWR in January 1991 when my older son was 10 months old. I have been LO of Boston Group a couple of times and also on the Organising Committee of the two very successful Good Read Day Conferences in 2004 and 2007. I am also involved with the 2020 Celebrations, having been to the Inaugural Meeting earlier in the year.
I was also a member of a Correspondence Magazine for about 10 years, but eventually gave up as my children did not like me writing about them.
I was originally a member of Boston Group until 2006 when I became an Independent Member. This was because I had to work on the evening that Boston Group met, and I did not want to miss out on NWR membership. I still went to Boston Group when I could, together with Grantham and Horncastle Groups who both made me very welcome. I re-joined Boston Group last year.
My first Conference was Nottingham 2001. I always said that I would go to Conference when it was near enough, and when I felt my sons were old enough to be left. I have been to every Conference since apart from two. I thoroughly enjoy the buzz of Conference and meeting up with old friends and making new ones, which is what being an NWR member is all about!
Well done Catharine, you're doing an excellent job. I'm sure members of the postal book group appreciate your efforts.