The Big Book Night

Comments (0) Interviews

Steve Nicholas, Former Principal Great Lakes College, Founding Member of the Great Lakes Education Fund, member of Forster Fellas Book Club; and Chris Jones, Manager Great Lakes Library Service and member of Forster Fellas Book Club tell us about an upcoming event for all book lovers … the Big Book Night. Find out how your love of reading can also support the Great Lakes Education Fund …


What can you tell us about book clubs within our local region … Do you have a rough idea of how many clubs there are, and how many people may be involved?

The Library has 49 book clubs using its service, which is pretty impressive when you think about it. It says a lot about the importance of book clubs. And they’re just the ones who have joined up to use the library service. We have no idea how many more book clubs, formal and informal, might be out there.

You’re interested in organising a gathering of all the local book clubs. What’s the aim of this gathering – what do you hope to achieve?

The purpose is two-fold. Firstly, to have an event that book lovers can look forward to, prepare for (by reading the books and thinking about them) and expand their appreciation of a book through spirited discussion. It should be lots of fun.

Secondly, our book club was very keen to support the work of the local Great Lakes Education Fund, acknowledging the financial challenge for local families to support their children with post school education.

Delegates from the Great Lakes Education Fund will be on hand on the evening to answer questions and to explain how individuals and book clubs can support young people through GLEF.

Please tell us a bit more about the Great Lakes Education Fund and why it’s such an important local organisation …

The Great Lakes Education Fund (GLEF), an affiliated arm of the national Country Education Foundation of Australia (CEFA), comprises 12 local volunteers drawn from various sectors, including business, education (school, TAFE and university), and health who work to raise funds locally to fund scholarships for needy local youth (living or being educated in the postcode 2428) to pursue post school education.

Further education is expensive, especially for country kids, and those costs are increasing. Some families just simply cannot afford these costs, so the dreams of a young person can be squashed due to economic factors. GLEF’s work aims to redress this situation for some young people. In its fourth year of operation, GLEF has awarded 32 scholarships so far. Students receiving a GLEF scholarship may also be able to access significant matching funding from some universities who support the work of CEFA nationally.

In our work GLEF hopes to make a difference to the lives of needy young people.

What plans have been made to organise this gathering? Has there been a venue, date and time allocated as yet?

Organisation for this exciting event are well underway. Readers should mark Thursday 12 November at 6:30pm in their diary. It will be held at Club Forster. We have many supporters for this event, including authors Richard Flanagan, Kate Grenville and John Marsden, who have all acknowledged the critical role ongoing education has in our communities. We have some exciting contributions to our cause from each of these authors on the night.

What activities do you envisage will take place at the event? Apart from helping to support the Great Lakes Education Fund, it sounds as if the potential for some fun and socialising for participants is very likely!

The evening focuses on three outstanding books: The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan, The Secret River by Kate Grenville and Our Man in Havana by Graham Greene. Three discussion panels are being formed, and discussion of each book will be facilitated by Library Manager Chris Jones. There will be both panel discussion and the opportunity for audience contributions, as well as the chance to socialise and chat over supper.

You don’t have to belong to a book club to attend. If you love reading, are interested in any or all of the books being discussed, or just like a good social night out, then come along.

What do you feel book clubs have to offer community members, both young and old?

Over the last few years, the library has seen a steady growth in the number of book clubs. We were initially quite surprised to find out how many book clubs there were. I think what this shows is that many members of the community really enjoy and even need the opportunity to share their reading experiences in a social setting. So, what book clubs do is provide important social interaction; they encourage and celebrate reading, and they’re a great forum for debate and discussion. Pretty amazing, really! And if they can now work together to support such a great cause as the Great Lakes Education Fund, that’s even better.

Where can readers register their interest in attending the gathering … or even find out more info about joining a book club?

Tickets can be purchased for $20 from the Forster Visitor Information Centre or at the door on the evening, although seating is finite. Information is available on Facebook at where participants can indicate their intention to attend.

There is also a dedicated email address – – that can be used to make enquiries or indicate intention to attend.

If you want to find out more about joining the wonderful book club service provided by the Great Lakes Library Service, just drop into any one of their branches. Our book club certainly uses it.

Please add anything else you feel may be relevant …

All funds raised from the cover charge, raffle and book sale will go to the Great Lakes Education Fund. Any one off donations on the night are tax deductible.

Through the generosity of our supporters listed below, there will be some very special prizes on the night, and many contemporary titles available for bargain prices.

Renowned authors Richard Flanagan, Kate Grenville and John Marsden; Literary Editor The Age and The Book Club panelist Jason Steger; series producer of the ABC’s The Book Club Amber Ma; publisher/editor at Random House Nikki Christer; Jane Novak Publicity Manager at Text Publishing; Dumbo Feather Magazine; Forster Visitor Information Centre and Club Forster have generously donated books, magazines, accommodation, time and gift vouchers to our worthy cause, reflecting their genuine commitment to the work of GLEF.

Thanks Steve and Chris.

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