The Morning After the World Book Night Before...

This is how the World Book Night official website describes this magical evening of sharing the love for all things written:

World Book Night is a celebration of reading and books which sees tens of thousands of passionate volunteers gift books in their communities to share their love of reading.
In 2012 World Book Night will be celebrated in the UK, Ireland, Germany and USA on April 23.
In the UK, 20,000 passionate readers will gift 24 copies of one of their favourite books to encourage those who don't regularly read to fall in love with reading. In addition World Book Night will be giving a further 620,000 books over the course of the year directly to the hardest to reach readers through prisons, care homes, hospitals, sheltered housing, homeless shelters, libraries and through other partner charities.

However, having grown up being told that “you don’t get anything for nothing”, I confess that when I heard about this last year I was unpleasantly confused and a little bit scared… did this mean altruistic aliens had landed, hadn’t made the headlines and everyone but me had lost their brains and bodies to little green men without my knowledge? (My answer to anything worrying - never the butler, always the alien.)
And although I understood it a little bit more after last year’s event, it wasn’t until this morning that I fully appreciated what a truly tremendous exercise this giving and passing around of words actually IS.
One of the teachers at work had subscribed to this year’s venture and the expression of bewilderment and joy on my colleague’s face when she was handed Meg Rosoff’s ‘How I Live Now’ will remain with me for a while. It just goes to show how much we doubt anything handed to us in gift.  She held it, turned it over, queried the giver and almost handed it back until I confirmed that yes, this is what happens on World Book Night.

This is how it works:
25 titles are specially chosen and printed in World Book Night editions. Givers apply for a particular book (they get a first, second and third choice) which they must commit to gift to those who don't regularly read, to share and spread their love of reading. Givers collect their books from their local bookshops and libraries, putting the very heart of our reading communities at the very heart of World Book Night.
It is difficult to quantify the value of reading on people’s lives, especially given the shocking statistics in the UK that outlines that one person in six struggles to read and write. Poor skills compromise health and well-being, confidence and employability. World Book Night’s charitable mission is to advance the education of the public by assisting in the promotion of literacy and the celebration of books and reading by creating unique moments which focus attention on adult literacy. By focusing on the enjoyment and engagement of reading we aim to reach and inspire those who have never discovered the value or pleasure of reading.

Thanks to my colleague telling me she’d applied to take part, I knew that my daughter had read this particular Meg Rosoff book and so unearthed it and spent a lovely few nights curled up with it like a new best friend.  It was an utter joy and a book I could re-read over and over.  I couldn’t recommend it highly enough.

These are the books on the 2012 list:
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
The Player of Games by Iain M Banks
Sleepyhead by Mark Billingham
Notes from a Small Island by Bill Bryson
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
The Take by Martina Cole
Harlequin by Bernard Cornwell
Someone Like You by Roald Dahl
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
Room by Emma Donoghue
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
Misery by Stephen King
Small Island by Andrea Levy
Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie O’Farrell
The Damned Utd by David Peace
Good Omens by Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman
How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff
Touching the Void by Joe Simpson
I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

And I LOVE the reason that World Book Day happens on 23rd April:
April 23 is a symbolic date for world literature. It is both the birth and death day of Shakespeare, as well as the death day of Cervantes, the great Spanish novelist. It is in their honour that UNESCO appointed it the international day of the book and that we choose it to celebrate World Book Night. April 23rd also marks the city of Barcelona's celebration of St George's Day. St George is the patron saint of Catalonia as well as England and traditionally, to celebrate this day, Spanish gentlemen gave their ladies roses and the ladies returned the favour with a book. Considering the rich literary history of this day, it seemed more than fitting that April 23rd should be chosen as the day of celebrating reading and the giving of books!

Did YOU get involved this year? Which book did you give away, or which book WILL YOU be giving away next year?
Ahhh…. books (you wouldn’t get this with those Kindle thingies).


JO said...

I've only just come back from afar, so knew I couldn't get organised to join in this year. But have cheered on all those who did - it's a wonderful idea, and hope I'll be around for the fun next year.

DT said...

I wasn't involved, but I applaud some of the book choices on the list - a good mix of the stalwart and the contemporary!

Fionnuala said...

I didn't do it this year but will next year and the book? Definitely The Book Thief, one of my favourite reads ever.

Lindsay said...

I was lucky enough to be a giver last year and again this year, and to be able to go to the main events in London. Last year in Trafalagr Square the buzz from the thousands of givers and the authors and actors reading, was amazing. This year's event was a little more sedate (and warmer)but the message about spreading reading to those who don't read was well conveyed. I'm giving The Book Thief this year. Last year it was A Fine Balance. I really hope this event gets books to places where books are in short supply.

Debs Riccio said...

Hear hear Lindsay, I think this is SUCH an amazing thing to have happen once a year and I can't wait to get involved next year. The Book Thief, THAT's the one I keep trying to remember everyone saying they've read and loved... *scoots over to Amazon*

Susie Nott-Bower said...

Debs, thanks so much for this - to my shame, I didn't know that this is what happens on WBN! What a fabulous idea, and I love the list of books - something for every taste. I would choose Paulo Coehlo's The Alchemist.