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Thursday, 28 February, 2002, 11:04 GMT
Welcome to our Reading Group
You have spoken. You have made your choice of which book we should read in BBC News Online's informal reading group.

Last week we reported how residents of US cities were being encouraged to read the same book at the same time, in an effort to stimulate community atmosphere.

Final voting
Catch-22 - 45%
Birdsong - 17%
How to be Good - 13%
Middlemarch - 13%
The Napoleon of Notting Hill - 8%
Inspired by this, we invited users of BBC News Online to submit their suggestions for which book they would like everyone to read together - and then we held a vote.

Thousands of you took part in the nomination and voting. The runaway winner, with nearly half the votes, was Joseph Heller's classic Catch-22

Catch-22
Your choice
The book, written in 1961, is a powerful anti-war novel, deriding the absurdity and bureaucracy of the modern world. It has the rare distinction of having entered everyday language, defining a no-win situation.

Over the next ten days, leading up to World Book Day 2002 on 14 March, any BBC News Online user can join the hundreds who have already pledged to tackle the novel simultaneously.

Between now and then, you can send comments or questions about the book to us at newsonline.features@bbc.co.uk. You will always be able to find news about the Reading Group in the Features File at the bottom of the UK Index.

Reaction

Those who had already read Catch-22 said it was a fitting choice.

Mike Hardcastle wrote: "It's still Joseph Heller's best novel, bureaucratic paradox with humour. Without the humour, it's very reminiscent of everything that seems to happen in British public life."

Many users said they were glad finally to have a reason to read the book.

Mark Stringer of the UK said: "Catch-22 is a book I have always meant to read and somehow never got round to it."

Objections

Some of you wrote with objections about the whole idea, saying it was wrong to get everyone to read the same book.

Lee Magee, a Brit living in the US, summed up the feelings, saying: "Forcing people to read the same book out of some misguided attempt to get everyone talking is abominable. It is the main reason I hated reading in class at school, as the books chosen for us were of no interest to me. People should be allowed to read what they like."

But many more people said they loved the idea, and were looking forward to sharing their views about the book with other BBC News Online users.

Send us your comments:
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Disclaimer: The BBC will put up as many of your comments as possible but we cannot guarantee that all e-mails will be published. The BBC reserves the right to edit comments that are published.
See also:

14 Dec 99 | Americas
Joseph Heller: Literary giant
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