As lockdowns and restrictions in various countries encourage many to dust-off old books and revel in the delights of literature, the University of Oxford on Tuesday launched a book club that will weekly release a selected book extract that could be read in 10 minutes.
Called the ‘Ten-Minute Book Club’, the initiative by academics from the English faculty will see extracts from prominent books released every week until October, starting this week. The first selection is from W.E.B.Du Bois’ 1903 book, ‘The Souls of Black Folk’.
The extracts, they said, will include books by Indian writers, among others, and from a wide selection of genres, such as novels, essays, poetry and short stories.
Each will be accompanied by a short introduction (in text, video or audio format) by an academic suggesting themes or contexts and suggestions for further reading – with a free link to the full text.
Academic Alexandra Paddock said: “We noticed during lockdown that so many people turned to literature for escape, connection and excitement but, at the same time, the pressures of lockdown were making long, intense stretches of reading harder”
“That is why we set up Ten-Minute Book Club – although we strongly believe its content will be relevant and useful long after the current restrictions have been removed”.
The list of authors includes nineteenth century Bengali poet and translator Toru Dutt, Mary Prince, Geoffrey Chaucer and Patience Agbabi, Olaudah Equiano, Katherine Mansfield, Elizabeth Keckley, James Joyce, Mary Shelley and Charlotte Brontë.
The readings are intended to be enjoyed alone or to spark discussion with family, friends, colleagues or anyone else. The selection is a mixture of classic well-known literature and outstanding works which deserve more prominence, mostly from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Paddock said: “All the works are originally written in English, by authors from all over the world, including New Zealand, Ireland, the Caribbean, India, United States and Britain”.
Karen O’Brien, project founder, added: “We believe literature is more important than ever, as we live through the current pandemic and come to terms with its challenges and meaning for all of our lives”.
“Ten-Minute Book Club aims to make a great conversation about literature possible, and to offer a quick and accessible way into some of the greatest writing by extraordinary writers from all backgrounds, guided by Oxford’s expertise on exciting authors and books.”