Perla Espínola, member of the group Libros contra la violencia (Books against Violence) —a project dedicated to encourage the use of public spaces to hold group readings— invited representatives of three neighborhood initiatives with similar purposes to talk to neighbors about the social function of collective reading in the barrio.

In the first session, each guest spoke briefly about specific actions to promote reading in Santa María La Ribera. María Teresa Ferriz—a neighbor librarian, expert in promoting reading among children—shared her experiences about setting a mailbox outside her home to share books, and about coordinating out-loud readings for children on her street. In turn, Bernardo Plascencia, owner of the Liberia Bodet, spoke about the book clubs for children and adults that gather at his bookshop; Marta Garrido and Perla Espínola, from Books against Violence, spoke about the mini-libraries network that are promoted in the barrio’s small businesses, and about their experience with book clubs for junior high girls in the barrio.

After guest speakers presented their projects, first-time attendees and regular participants in these and similar initiatives expressed their opinion. In general, they shared personal experiences to illustrate how collective reading dynamics transcend the goal of sharing comprehension of the material read and generate exchange of ideas about the readers’ common interests, which, in turn, at times result in developing creative solutions for shared problems.

As an outcome of this meeting, and to address the participants’ interests, it was agreed to organize a book club at Casa Gallina focused on empathy among neighbors and coordinated by Books against Violence.