As a member of this book club, I can heartily recommend it as a way of helping people in disaster zones while also introducing different authors from other countries.
A charity subscription book club founded in Cornwall – one of the last in the UK – is celebrating its five-year anniversary as it continues to help fund emergency shelter for people displaced by conflict and disaster.
ShelterBox Book Club, which has more than 400 members across the southwest of England gives readers the chance to see the world through another person’s eyes, while providing tangible support to people affected by disasters. The international disaster relief charity specialises in emergency shelter. It has helped more than 2.5 million people across almost 100 countries and is currently responding to the Morocco earthquake, and flooding in Libya.
Helping to fund its work around the world is ShelterBox Book Club, which was formed in November 2018 to raise money while sharing stories from around the world. It has thousands of members across the UK who, with every book they read, help fund emergency shelter for people they will never meet.
Rosie North from Constantine, near Falmouth, says: “What did I do before The ShelterBox Book Club came along? I read the same authors! Waiting for new titles! But now the ShelterBox Book Club has challenged me to read amazing books, some I would never have found on my own.
“The diversity of the books takes me on travels far and wide. Meeting authors at the end of each read and discussing the books with like-minded people from across the country. Double win as the membership also helps to support the work of ShelterBox by supporting families after disaster. What is not to like?”
Five years on from when it all began, it is one of the only charity subscription book clubs left in the UK and has just reached its next huge milestone – 90,000 books read – and £1,250,000 raised. It has thousands of members across the UK who, with every book they read, help fund emergency shelter for people they will never meet.
Head Bookworm at ShelterBox, Catherine Thornhill says: “Every month our members help to make a real difference around the world. The people our charity supports have often had to leave behind their homes, belongings, livelihoods, and sometimes even loved ones.
“Our book club is raising funds to help people who need it with different combinations of emergency shelter, and basic items like water filters, mosquito nets, and blankets, to make the biggest difference for communities after disaster.
“The difference this book club and our members are making to people all over the world is incredible and sometimes I have to just stop and let that sink in – it’s remarkable.”
ShelterBox is supporting people displaced by conflict in Ukraine, Yemen, Syria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ethiopia, and Mozambique. It’s also continuing to respond to the worst drought to hit East Africa in 40 years, people affected by the earthquakes in Türkiye and Syria, and the monsoon flooding in Pakistan.
Catherine adds: “Our books take us all around the world, immersing readers in cultures from countries where ShelterBox works. We’ve read stories by women from Afghanistan with ‘My Pen is the Wing of a Bird’, a young boys remarkable experiences in the Malawian story ‘The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind’ by William Kamkwamba, a tale of friendship in the Japanese story ‘Sweet Bean Paste’ by Durian Sukegawa translated by Alison Watts, and one close to our cause, true stories of upheaval in ’We Are Displaced’ by Malala Yousafzai.
“It is completely humbling that ShelterBox Book Club is thriving five years after it started and we’re so grateful for the wonderful support we’ve received from the publishers we’ve worked with, the incredible authors who’ve shouted about our work, and of course our readers.”
Every six weeks, members get the chance to vote for the next compelling read from a shortlist of three specially selected titles hand-picked by Catherine, ShelterBox’s Head Bookworm to reflect the incredible people and places the charity works.
A copy of the most popular book will arrive in the post for members to enjoy with a letter telling them about a family they’ve supported through their membership.
Members can attend online events discussing books with other members and get involved in exclusive live Q&As with some of the authors.
To find out more about ShelterBox Book Club, visit shelterbox.org/book-club/. New members can join for a suggested donation of £10 a month, or memberships can be gifted in subscriptions of six- or 12-month packages.