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Why The Queen’s Reading Room Festival is so important to the celebration of literature

This past weekend, The Queen’s Reading Room Festival returned to Hampton Court Palace for the second year in a row where literary lovers, authors, and more gathered again. Although it started as a small online book club project during lockdown, the book club and festival as a whole have become much more than that. 

As the festival’s website explains, the “festival is a literary festival like no other; gathering authors, experts, actors and literature lovers for a day celebrating the written word.” Authors, actors, historians, and more gather to discuss, perform, and share their favourite works. 

Reading has been a fairly popular hobby since the eighteenth and nineteenth century when mass-produced books were more affordable and more people had leisure time to allow them to read. 

While the onslaught of technology and an ever-growing list of optional activities has meant that reading is not as popular as it once was, TikTok and other social media networks are bringing it back into the spotlight. However, BookTok tends to largely focus on a few select genres and authors. 

This festival is important in the celebration of literature and reading because it spans genres, authors, reader ages, and even centuries. Whether you prefer to read a Golden Age mystery, get lost in an Austen or a Dickens novel, or to see Shakespeare’s works performed, the festival has something for you. There are no right or wrong books to celebrate, reading in and of itself is celebrated at the festival. And it does so to promote community. 

In an age when we are finding ourselves more and more isolated for a number of reasons, reading is a widely accessible activity that can bring us together. While The Queen’s Reading Room book club allows readers everywhere to explore new books and connect over them, the Festival is a day where readers can come together with authors and performers to fully enjoy that community. 

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