#TheDarkisReading: A Midwinter Reading Group

Hello to new visitors in search of #thedarkisreading, an unexpected Christmas delight. Read on!


‘This night will be bad, and tomorrow will be beyond imagining…’ tweeted @RobGMacfarlane, posting a photo of a gift copy of Susan Cooper’s classic children’s novel The Dark Is Rising (1973).

‘A wonder!’ I replied ‘I reread it every Christmas too – maybe we should have a twitter book club on it this year … ‘

Thousands of retweets, messages and retweets later, here we are. This winter, join over a thousand other people in a worldwide real-time read of Susan Cooper’s seasonal fantasy.

We’ll start (as the novel does) on Midwinter Eve / 20th December, and run through until Twelfth Night / 5th-6th January (the day the novel ends).

How does it work?

Very simple. The group is joined by the hashtag #TheDarkIsReading (thank you @mattlibrarian for that stroke of genius). Conversations, reflections, contributions can be searched for under the hashtag, and new threads started using it. Just jump into any conversation you’d like to be part of, or start one yourself.

Each day, @RobGMacfarlane and @juliamarybird will also post at least one question or prompt from their Twitter accounts. Christmas excitements might mean that timings are not always precise!

You can read the novel in one spellbound sitting, or ration it out until 5th. Completely up to you.

As well as thinking through the novel’s landscapes, characters & language, we’d also love people to share their memories of reading TDIR, as well as other responses inspired by the novel.

What do I need to do to join?

Nothing apart from to have a copy of the book, a Twitter account, and be ready to read and respond, however you’d wish. It might make sense to follow @RobGMacfarlane & @juliamarybird, but the hashtag means you don’t have to do so to take part.

Do I need to read the other books in the sequence?

The Dark is Rising is the second in a sequence of five books, but it stands alone. You don’t need to have read Over Sea, Under Stone to make sense of TDIR.

 Can children join in?

Yes yes yes! One of the extraordinary powers of the novel is its ability to speak up and down the ages. As a rough guide for parents thinking of getting their children involved, Will Stanton – the novel’s young hero – turns eleven in the book’s course. The novel is eerie and unsettling, but not violent in any explicit way.

If you’d like a brief non-spoiler introduction to the novel and its powers, here’s something Rob wrote about what he calls ‘The eeriest novel I know‘.

A tiny bit of legal stuff: please be aware that Susan Cooper’s book (its text and all its illustrations) is copyrighted, so if you want to quote from the text or tweet pictures of covers and illustrations, you will need to credit the author / illustrator. If you’re creating your own artwork, please put your name to it, and if you are adapting other people’s artwork, please credit them. Any works using the title or characters or the words from the books may not be sold commercially.

Finally, just to clarify that this isn’t an official scheme like World Book Day or National Poetry Day, nor is there any profit-making aspect to it. It’s just an idea that’s taken on its own wild life, born of a passion on our parts – and thousands of other people’s – for a novel that has a huge power to drive deep into the imagination, and stay there.


39 thoughts on “#TheDarkisReading: A Midwinter Reading Group

  1. booksandwinegums December 10, 2017 / 8:43 pm

    I lent my much-loved edition out at some point in the last twenty years and it did not return… My fab local library has dug out a copy for me and I am now chomping at the bit to make a start. Can’t wait!

  2. ianmoore3000 December 10, 2017 / 9:22 pm

    Reblogged this on Secret Panda and commented:
    I have not once but twice tried and failed to read “The Dark Is Rising” but so many people love it that I might give it another go. It also has one of the best titles of any books ever.

  3. anotherwisemonkey December 10, 2017 / 9:42 pm

    One of my favourite books as a child. Will look into getting a library copy. Thanks for posting. 🙂

  4. aashish17 December 11, 2017 / 1:39 am

    Thank you, I am an avid reader and so is my 10 year old son. We have no idea about this book or author and our cultural connections may also be very different to the book as we are from a western most state on the coast of India.

    I have just joined in because of my passion for reading and the series seem extremely exciting. The last time I was so excited for a series was at least a decade ago.

    Plus the idea of these many readers reading the same book at the same time and the setting in the book and our environment across the northern hemisphere being winter it feels warm and cosy as this book connects me to so many people across the globe.

    Thank you for doing this.

    Aashish Dhakhaan

  5. Bellezza December 11, 2017 / 2:06 am

    It’s too lovely an invitation to resist! I look forward to reading this for the first time (gasp!) and discussions to follow. Thank you for putting it together.

  6. Elaine Hadden Golladay December 11, 2017 / 3:40 am

    My copy received and ready to go. This will be my first reading since I only learned of it by following R. Macfarlane. I am 62! Stoked about this.

  7. Alex December 11, 2017 / 2:26 pm

    Have loved this series since I first read it when I was about 11. Have re-read it many times since then and am very excited by the idea of sharing the book in this way. What a great idea!! Can’t wait to get started and hear what others have to say about it.

  8. karen hartford December 12, 2017 / 3:55 am

    Looking forward to re-reading this book. First read it as an adult and loved it. Read the entire series.

  9. Liz Marley December 12, 2017 / 2:42 pm

    This is a childhood favourite; so much so that when making a Venetian carnival mask a few years ago, it turned into the image from the 1973 cover. Really looking forward to reading it in company…

  10. Mary J Howell December 13, 2017 / 4:09 am

    Ooh luverly. Never read it but sounds scary

  11. Dabblewords December 14, 2017 / 8:25 am

    I loved reading this series – discovered as an adult when I was children’s librarian. I will dig out a copy (if my current work place junior section doesn’t have it I will be sorely disappointed…) and join in!

  12. Lindsay Haynes December 14, 2017 / 8:50 am

    I have read my copy of the whole series in one book so often that it fell apart. Literally. The cover went first, then every year a few pages detached themselves and had to be taped back in place. Following a number of moves in recent years it finally gave up the ghost and fell apart completely. Time to find a new copy me thinks, and only 6 days to spare!

  13. Julia Lund December 15, 2017 / 4:14 pm

    Never read this, but off to source a copy now.

  14. Maria Sobczyk December 15, 2017 / 4:43 pm

    Just received my copy, the whole sequence in a paperback from ‘thrift books’ in the U.S. I’ve never read it but was inspired by Rob Macfarlane, at 69 I suspect I may be your oldest first-time readers?

  15. alicezorn December 17, 2017 / 10:20 pm

    My Widwinter Eve (in Montreal) will start later than yours but I’m in!

  16. leighmorgan1 December 18, 2017 / 12:42 pm

    My copy is set to be delivered on the 20th. That’s perfection, I’m thinking!

  17. Jane Booty December 19, 2017 / 2:39 pm

    My copy has arrived this morning, all the way from the US of A …..just in time, and I’m very excited to be able to now be part of this global reading. It’s a new story and new author and new experience eagerly anticipated ( I’m 64!) A big thanks to Julia and Robert.

  18. luwrites December 20, 2017 / 11:04 am

    Reblogged this on Lu Writes and commented:
    Anyone can join in, starting today! As a massive Susan Cooper fan, I’m really excited to be reading the book again and sharing thoughts with others.

  19. designerchaoz December 20, 2017 / 11:55 am

    I’m sat in Waterstones instead of in my bed waiting for the copy I have reserved with a supposed two hour turnaround! I have toured my six charity shops and library so I’m also chomping at the bit waiting to start. That said, I did like the film not knowing anything of its pedigree when released as the atmosphere was compelling at least and I’m glad it’s shown often. Also, Mercury Rev’s single of the same name is equally epic!

  20. Sarbjot Sandhu December 20, 2017 / 5:03 pm

    Not sure who invited me but I wanna be in this…great title…great idea….

  21. Praxilla December 21, 2017 / 9:58 am

    I’m loving this so far! I’ve never read the book before, but now, only after reading a few chapters, I can see how this would be a holiday tradition…and I love traditions!

  22. Hope Taylor December 22, 2017 / 2:52 am

    I adore this series. I am terribly sad because one of treasured memories is meeting Ms. Cooper and getting signed copies– that are now missing. I shall have to get ebooks to join in.

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