Volunteering by the book

Ten years ago, Macmillan introduced our volunteer Book Reviewer role which allowed people affected by cancer to share their thoughts on books on the subject. Since then, avid readers have helped Macmillan information centres, libraries and countless people to make informed choices about which books would be most useful for them. 

The books that reviewers dive into can vary widely and cover all genres and formats including memoirs, novels, poetry collections and children’s books. The topics they read about might include cancer in general, specific cancers, living with cancer, survivorship, end of life, or bereavement.

Each book is read by several different volunteers to ensure we gather a full range of opinions to provide a well-rounded picture. Reviewers receive books through the post, then review them at their leisure. It’s the ideal opportunity for anyone who wants to volunteer from home and all you need is some experience of cancer and a critical eye. The role can be a therapeutic way of reflecting upon one’s own experiences, as well as giving something back to Macmillan. 

To celebrate a decade of fantastic book reviewers, we asked one superstar volunteer why reviewing books matters.

The brilliance of books

Kate has made her time matter by reviewing more than 100 publications for Macmillan – an astonishing amount in anyone’s book. She says, ‘No matter what type of cancer you have, many of the feelings and emotions it provokes are the same. Books written about cancer by those who have been there can make it feel like someone is holding your hand, letting you know that, although treatment is rubbish, things can still be okay.’

Kate's top picks

Life on the Refrigerator Door by Alice Kuipers

'This is written as a series of notes between a mother and her teenage daughter. It’s so honest and true, and I found it very moving and poignant as I have an eighteen-year-old myself.'

With the End in Mind: Dying, Death and Wisdom in an Age of Denial by Kathryn Mannix 

'This is a brilliant book written by a palliative care doctor and there is much wisdom in her words. I lent it to one of my friends.'

Muddles, Puddles and Sunshine by Diana Crossley and Kate Sheppard

'This is an activity book designed to help young children cope with bereavement. It’s inviting and empathetic with fun illustrations, and it acknowledges death and grief without being patronising.'

Sound like the role for you?

If you'd like to find out more, please get in touch today.

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