Live readings, new book clubs and reading groups. Find out about the different reading focused events and groups that Dunedin Public Libraries are offering in 2022.

Two novels I read over the summer break, The Midnight Library by Matt Haig and The Reading List by Sara Nisha Adams, perfectly illustrate just how reading stories can help in difficult times, and how meeting to talk about books and stories, helps build connections with others and strengthens a sense of community. 

In The Midnight Library, Nora Seed is in a desperate state when she arrives at the library, which is a kind of purgatory. With guidance from her old school librarian, Nora gets the chance to change some of her life choices by selecting different books of her regrets. It is the absence of Nora's connection with others that leads to her desperate state, and 'reading' her books of regret that helps her to see things differently, with more perspective.

In The Reading List, surly teenage non-reader Aleisha finds a handwritten list of eight novels in a book whilst working at the Harrow Street Library. She uses it to help lonely widower Mukesh find a book to read. Aleisha also reads the books from the list because Mukesh believes she has read them already and he wants to talk about them with her. Other people also discover the same reading list; they all find that the list seems to be written for them. Each person's mental health and wellbeing improves as they read the novels and make connections with the plots, and these connections in turn build their community, including at the local library book group.

Although the Harrow Street and Midnight libraries are fictional, both places encapsulate what libraries across New Zealand are striving for: to improve connection and wellbeing within our communities. After the first lockdown in 2020 the New Zealand government provided extra funding via the NZLPP scheme for libraries to better assist communities to connect. They also recognised the important role reading for pleasure plays in improving wellbeing and connection, and my current role of Reading Promotion Coordinator grew from this. 

Listening to stories read aloud is good for everyone, no matter how old.

All of our libraries have a regular storytime for young children. At the City library we have just begun a new regular event, at 5.30 pm on the 2nd Wednesday of the month, for all age groups. It is called Reading Allowed, a pun on hearing books read aloud in a library. Each time two gifted readers, Lorraine Johnston and Dr Paul Tankard, will read aloud from a piece of classic or contemporary literature. You can listen, or read along quietly with them. On February 9th, we heard how Watson met Holmes, and just what he made of Sherlock when they met, from A Study in ScarletWe also heard the entire T. S. Eliot poem The Waste Land, which was first published a hundred years ago. The live reading brought the different voices within the poem alive.

Lorraine Johnston reading from A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Feb 9 2022. — Image by: Jill Bowie

Come along to the next editions of Reading Allowed on March 9, April 13, May 11 and June 8 at 5.30 pm, on the ground floor of the City Library.

March 9th: Paul will be reading from Gulliver’s Travels. Lorraine will read from To Kill a Mockingbird.
April 13th: Paul will read from Lord of the RingsLorraine will be reading from The Matriarch.

Dr Paul Tankard reading aloud from The Waste Land at Reading Allowed, 9 February 2022 — Image by: Jackie McMillan

Book Shares, Book Chats, Reading Groups and Book Clubs

Dunedin Public Libraries have book groups for adults and book clubs for children at most of our libraries, with more new groups popping up soon. These groups all welcome newcomers. Stephaney from Blueskin Bay Library says Blueskin Book Share has been running since December 2013 and is open to all. She describes it as "a relaxed way to make friends and share ideas about what to read next."

Click here to find out when our current reading discussion groups meet, or ask at your local library, or email

March 2022 will also see two new book clubs for teens start at the City Library. 

For young teens, there is T.B.G. (Years 8-10). T.B.G. begins on March 3 (World Book Day), meeting on Floor 4 of the City Library from 3.30 pm. 

T.B.G. will meet on the 1st Thursday of each month.

Crossover, another book club for teens (Years 9-13), is dedicated to Graphic Novels. Crossover begins on March 17 and will meet each month following on the 3rd Thursday of each month, in the Teen Space on Floor 2, from 3.30 pm. 

RSVPs are essential for both clubs as places are limited!

March 2022 will also see a new reading group (18+), Open Book, launched in association with Dunedin Pride, in addition to the already established Rainbow Books and Culture Club for young people. 

Come along to the Pride Mixer, in partnership with Dunedin Pride, Floor 4 of the City Library March 16 from 6pm, to discover some of the LGBT+ resources at Dunedin Public Libraries. You can also sign up for the reading group, Open Book, there.

Rainbow Books and Culture Club — Image by:

Sharing and chatting about books builds communities and reduces isolation. Reading together builds connections to memories and with each other. 

If you would like to join any Dunedin Public Libraries book clubs or reading groups, or if you have ideas for new groups, please contact me. Jackie McMillan, Reading Promotion Coordinator:

Please refer to the Dunedin Public Libraries website for the latest information on events at our premises