The Fiction Project
 

Readers unite! 

 
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1. Find a fellow fiction reader

You love to read fiction. You know others who love to read fiction. Perhaps they are friends, colleagues, neighbors, or family members. Perhaps one of those people has a diametrically opposing view, or a subtly different view, on a hot-button topic. Ask them to join you in reading two or three books about a topic and having a conversation about your reading.

Topics are:  Citizenship, Families & Community, Religion, Safety & Security, Work & Money

 

2. Choose two or three books and sign up

Together, choose two or three books of fiction. We have proposed reading lists for each topic, or you can choose the books on your own. The books should come from different eras:

  • Published before 1969
  • Published between 1969 and 2002
  • Published since 2003

Choose one person out of the two of you who will communicate with The Fiction Project. Make sure that person signs up and tell us what you're reading.

3. Read the books and talk

Read the books. Then have a conversation with your reading partner. You can use our discussion guide or simply have a conversation about how the books relate to the current political and social situation, and how they changed, or didn't change, your views. You can have the discussion in person or via email, text, Skype — whatever works. Just make sure to take notes about the conversation.

4. Send us observations on your conversation and choose an action

Once you have your discussion, fill out a quick questionnaire (this should be done by the same person who initially filled out the sign up form) or just email us the highlights of the conversation at fictionprojectusa @ gmail.com. Note that we may edit whatever you send us for length or clarity. We'll post in on our Fiction Conversations Blog.

Lastly, with your fellow reader, choose an action to take together centered around your topic. 

If you have 30 minutes:

  • Donate together to a non-profit, religious institution, political action group, or other organization.
  • Via social media, tell your networks that you participated in The Fiction Project.
  • Give the books you read on the topic (if owned) to someone else and tell them about The Fiction Project.

If you have several hours:

  • Choose a book that you both agreed made an impact on your thinking. Go to a local bookstore and buy 5-10 copies of that book. Ask the bookstore to offer those copies for free at the register so that other readers can read the book you chose.
  • Volunteer for a few hours at an organization, together if possible.
  • Choose another topic to read about and have another conversation together.
  • Watch a movie adaptation of one of the books you read together. Discuss how those differences change your reading or shift the previous conversation you had.
  • Write an op-ed about the topic and submit it to a local or national publication.

If you want to take an action together in a big way:

  • Begin a monthly neighborhood debate or town hall session about the topic; work together to find attendees with different viewpoints who want to have a meaningful conversation 
  • Make an appointment to visit your local city, state or federal representatives office and advocate a policy that you both feel to be fair regarding the chosen topic.
 

“No two persons ever read the same book.”

edmund wilson, author

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Common Questions

What are the topics and why did you choose those particular ones?

Topics are:  Citizenship, Families & Community, Religion, Safety & Security, Work & Money

These topics are fairly broad, may overlap, and can touch upon thorny issues such as reproductive rights, immigration, welfare, healthcare, Islam and more.

We chose these topics because they provoke strong reactions. They increasingly tear apart families, friends and neighborhoods. We want to change that on a person-to-person level by combining reading fiction and having a conversation. We've even created suggested reading lists for each topic, along with an optional discussion guide, making it easy for you to get started.


What if the topic isn't exactly what we want to discuss?

That's perfectly fine. The topics are just ideas to start a conversation. If you want to talk about the environment, military action or other hot-button topics, feel free. Also, your topic doesn't have to be super broad or narrow; for example, if you want to talk broadly about war and peace, go ahead. Or if you want to focus on a narrow topic such the use of military tribunals for terrorism suspects, that's fine. We just want people to read and have conversations that goes beyond memes, tweets and shouts. 

If you do choose another topic, we still ask that you sign up and let us know about it. And then make sure to submit observations about your conversation to us or you can simply send us a quick email with a few sentences about your conversation at fictionprojectusa @ gmail.com. 


Can you pair me with a fellow reader?

At this time, the Fiction Project cannot pair you with another reader. If that's something that we find to be a popular request, then we'll consider starting a "match" service for readers. 

Even if we can't pair you with a reader, we're pretty sure that there's someone in your life who loves to read fiction as much as you do, and who has a different view than you on a hot-button topic. Peruse your social media feed, think about members of your family, or consider someone in your book club. Your Fiction Project reading parter is out there and closer than you think. Find them and start reading.

Still have more questions or want to learn more? Read our FAQs

 

Ready to begin?

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