For the love of reading: my 52-book challenge

Katy Francis has always loved reading. As Chaplain at Marie Curie Hospice, Newcastle, she says it’s an activity that helps her and the patients, staff and volunteers she supports. We caught up with Katy to discuss her challenge of reading 52 books in a year, and why people should consider donating books they’ve loved as part of The Big Readcycle, our partnership with WHSmith.

Everyone has a story to tell

“As a chaplain I’m here to look after the spiritual and religious care of patients. And also their carers and members of staff here as well.

I think people have this image of crusty old vicars. I am a vicar. But hopefully I’m not too crusty! It’s really much more about spiritual care and that’s about anything that is important to a person: what gives them hope, what gives them strength during difficult times.

To do this role you have to love working with people. Every person has a unique story to tell. That’s something that’s wonderful.

Katy Francis, Chaplain at Marie Curie Hospice, Newcastle

It’s a privilege to meet people and walk some of the journey with them and discover their stories. That’s the main reason I love the job.

My 52-book challenge

I spend too much time on Facebook or watching rubbish television. I just thought: ‘what can I do that’s more positive?’ I remembered somebody talking about doing a 52-book challenge. It sounded a bit crazy really.

Some of my friends just laughed at me. But I thought: ‘no, actually. If I’m disciplined I can do it.’ I love my job in lots of ways and it’s something I really enjoy. But sometimes reading can take you away from things and it helps to relax me. It feeds my soul.

I’ve read 21 or 22 so far. It helps you to discover so much, you enter into so many different worlds – it’s endlessly fascinating. It’s been an absolute joy. 

It’s a privilege to meet patients, walk some of the journey with them and discover their stories.
Katy Francis, Chaplain at Marie Curie Hospice, Newcastle

End of life wisdom

I read Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom, which is a wonderful book. It’s full of laughter and tears. It’s about dying with dignity, about a guy with MND. It doesn’t shy away from the reality of the situation. It’s really beautiful and it brings up a lot of those issues we face day-to-day at Marie Curie. It was full of wisdom on how people can approach death.

I take a photograph of every book I read and I put it on Facebook. Then I write a little review.

Our hospices are often about living life to the full. There’s lots of laughter in these places.
Katy Francis, Chaplain at Marie Curie Hospice, Newcastle

Why it’s important to Readcycle

It’s a really good thing to Readcycle your old books if you’ve enjoyed them. It’s a wonderful thing to share a book you’ve loved with people. You get a good feeling from it.

Marie Curie is a wonderful charity. It does amazing work. But it depends on people’s donations. I see people’s lives changed here – patients, relatives, carers. Any books you can donate will help change those lives for the better.”

Got books you no longer need? Share the love – donate your old books at a WHSmith high street store between 2 June and 31 August as part of The Big Readcycle. We’ll sell them through Marie Curie Shops, to help raise vital funds to provide care and support for people living with a terminal illness. In exchange, you’ll even receive 25% off your next book purchase. Find out more