Reading (as in the town), BookCrossing, & The Curious World of the GROW Bookcase

We love Reading – it’s our home; home to global IT corporates as well as innovative tech and digital start-ups!

GROW is also very proud to have been Reading’s first coworking space - we have incubated a diverse community of small businesses by creating an affordable and supportive environment where they can flourish; we love to share ideas, collaborate and innovate!

What better way to do that than through our book-sharing bookcase? Thanks to the generosity of our residents, it has gathered an eclectic mix of titles from starting businesses, coding and the social/economic impact of digital transformation to books on American Whiskey, Boring Postcards, Trust, the general state of the nation and other random offerings!

We decided to make GROW an official Book Crossing Zone on Bookcrossing.com to better share our busting bibliothèque. BookCrossing is a fabulous idea - a reader registers a book and can either ‘release it into the wild’ for a stranger to find, or simply pass it on to another in a ‘controlled release’. The idea is that each person in turn registers their ‘catch’ by adding their own comments and in this way the book’s ‘journey’ and impact can be ‘followed’.

While working though the titles to register them online, we found two very different photographic books featuring Reading; ‘Did You Know? Reading – A Miscellany’ and ‘Boring Postcards’! Here are some snippets…


‘Did You Know? Reading – A Miscellany’

A lovely book on the history of Reading published by The Francis Frith Collection and full of old photos of the town.

Today, Reading is known as the capital of the UK’s Silicon Valley, but this is simply part of an interesting history of diverse economic development; Reading has also been famous for its three ‘Bs’; Beer, Bulbs and Biscuits! We suppose that’s very fitting - now it’s known for ‘Bits and Bytes’!

Did you know?:

  • The correct pronunciation of Reading is “ Reddin’ ”.

  • First documented reference to Reading is found in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle for AD 871: ‘In this year rode the host (the Danish Army) to Reading in Wessex…then the ealdorman Aethelwulf opposed them at Englefield and fought against them and won the victory…’

  • In early times Reading was a significant settlement of strategic importance, dominating as it did the valley of the Rivers Thames and Kennet. The Domesday Book mentions that Reading had a market and its own mint for coinage.

  • Reading Abbey was founded in 1121 by Henry I, son of William the Conqueror and by the time it was dissolved by Henry VIII in the 1530s it was one of the most powerful and rich in England.

  • The growth and prosperity of Reading in the Middle Ages owed much to the wealthy abbey. The town developed a strong wool and cloth trade which declined from the 17th century.

  • Reading was the first town to be besieged in the civil war which adversely affected the prosperous wool trade. Reading was also the site of the only significant fighting during the Glorious Revolution.

  • During 17th and 18th centuries breweries, maltings, fulling mills and brick and tile making replaced the woollen cloth industry. Mills, warehouses and industry developed along the Kennet; the river was canalised from 1720. Completed in 1810, it led to new prosperity and expansion for the town.

  • The town expanded rapidly in the 19th century with the coming of the railway and developed into an industrial center. The Great Western railway arrived at Reading in 1840.

  • In Victorian times Reading became known for the three ‘Bs’ Biscuits (Huntley and Palmer), Bulbs (Sutton Seeds) and Beer (Simmonds’ Brewery, later Courage’s).

And that’s just brief economic review - there’s much more to discover about Reading’s social, cultural and literary heritage, fascinating architecture and other random miscellany in…‘Did You Know? Reading – A Miscellany’!

‘Boring Postcards’

The curious world of the GROW bookcase also afforded an example of some ‘lesser interesting architecture’ in Reading!

‘Boring Postcards’ is published by the Michael Parr Foundation, and described as ‘Dull, post war scenes around the UK… a commentary on British architecture, social life and identity, a record of a folk photography…an exercise in sublime minimalism and, above all, a richly comic photographic entertainment.’

It’s a compendium of prosaic nostalgia and we love it (ironically). It has a post card of ‘The Butts Center’ from the 1970s, the former site of the current Broad Street Mall and another of some scaffolding building works at the Basingstoke shopping center! We definitely think today’s Broad Street Mall is more exciting.

The Butts Shopping Centre - ‘Boring Postcards’ edited by Michael Parr

The Butts Shopping Centre - ‘Boring Postcards’ edited by Michael Parr

Visit our virtual book shelf at OCZ_GROWGreenPk to see what other titles we have available (to see more about a book, click on ‘Global Overview for this book’). We have more titles than are listed, so please feel free to get in touch to visit us, browse our bookcase and borrow a book!

See you soon!