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Easy to read and enjoy

Essex Libraries' Quick Reads initiative has identified suitable fiction and non-fiction titles for adults with reading ages of between nine and 14.

The idea is that readers are offered "real" books from the library's mainstream stock that they would enjoy. Doing this should enable them to start seeing reading as something more than just a technical, code-breaking activity.

The Quick Reads collection was selected according to strict criteria. Books should be short; there should be no reference to levels of difficulty on the covers; the content must suit adults; there should be no flashbacks; and there must be an initial hook or story line that grabbed the reader.

Inclusion in the collection also depended on the "Smog formula", which calculated the readability of a book by, among other things, counting the number of words that have three or more syllables from selected lines.

Twenty-four libraries in Essex now have Quick Reads collections and the idea is being emulated elsewhere in the country.

Librarians have been working with adult education tutors in Essex. These in turn have been running discussion groups with readers about the books they have enjoyed. Readers are also encouraged to write reviews of their books and post them on a county council website.

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