30 August, 2012

World Book Night

Tomorrow is the last day you can nominate books for next year's World Book Night. This annual event is a fabulous celebration of books and the joy they bring.

The idea behind WBN is simple - it aims to get people to share the books they love with people they know and with "harder to reach readers" in care homes, prisons, shelters and hospitals.

WBN is celebrated in the UK, USA, Germany and Ireland on the 23rd April every year - Shakespeare's birthday and deathday. 25 books are chosen and special editions printed. People can then apply to be a giver of a particular book and promise to give away copies of that book for free. Each book given away has an identifying number which can then be tracked through the website as the book gets passed from person to person.

I think I'm going to apply to be a giver for 2013. If you're interested you can read all about it on the World Book Night website. You can also visit the website to nominate books to be included on the WBN 2013 list - but you'll have to be quick! You can nominate any work of fiction, in any genre, so long as it's not too lengthy (it can be pretty long, just not War and Peace length!) and has been published as a paperback in the UK... oh, and for a chance to make the final list, it has to be a good book (all those people who nominated Fifty Shades of Grey take note)! It doesn't have to be your favourite, just one that you think would captivate somebody. I've nominated We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver.

Once the nominations are in, an editorial committee will look through the top 100 and create a list of books from both the nominated ones and others they think would help to create a balanced list across all genres and styles. Here is last year's list of the 25 books given away by 20 000 volunteers. How many have you read? Any favourites or un-favourites?

  1. Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen  (read and loved)
  2.  The Player of Games - Iain M Banks
  3. Sleepyhead - Mark Billingham
  4. Notes from a Small Island - Bill Bryson  (read and loved)
  5. The Alchemist - Paulo Coelho  (read and found a bit too weird)
  6. The Take - Martine Cole
  7. Harelquin - Bernard Cornwell
  8. Someone Like You - Roald Dahl 
  9. A Tale of Two Cities - Charles Dickens  (read and absolutely loved)
  10. Room - Emma Donoghue 
  11. Rebecca - Daphne du Maurier  (read and liked)
  12. The Remains of the Day - Kazuio Ishiguru 
  13. Misery - Stephen King  (read and quite liked, but nowhere near his best)
  14. The Secret Dreamworld of a Shopaholic - Sophie Kinsella
  15. Small Island - Andrea Levy 
  16. Let the Right One In - John Ajvide Lindqvist 
  17. The Road - Cormac McCarthy 
  18. The Time Traveller's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
  19. The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox - Maggie O'Farrell 
  20. The Damned United - David Pearce 
  21. Good Omens - Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman  (read and liked)
  22. How I Live Now - Meg Rosoff
  23. Touching the Void - Joe Simpson
  24. I Capture the Castle - Dodie Smith  (read and loved)
  25. The Book Thief - Markus Zusa

So I've read only eight of these, but it includes some of my favourites. Of them all A Tale of Two Cities  is probably my top one, though I love Bill Bryson and Jane Austen too. I'd really like to read Room and The Book Thief.

I had a peek at the current top 100 by number of votes last week. I was pleased to see that We Need to Talk About Kevin was in there, along with many other brilliant books. But I've only read 41 of them, listened to the audio book of three and seen the stage play of one, so I feel like I've got a lot of catching up to do!


  1. I've read five only from the list. If you found The Alchemist weird then I won't put you down on my Covenant list! Thanks for the prompt for WBN.

    1. You of all people should know that an author reads across all types of books. Just because I found TA weird, doesn't mean that I wouldn't like a book with a similar theme/idea. And I'm guessing you don't mean Covenant is written in Coelho's style because it'll be written in your style! But if you don't want me to read it, I don't have to!

    2. Thinking about it - if your book really is like The Alchemist then I definitely want to read. It's going to be an international bestseller and I want to say I was there at the start!

    3. I would love you to read it.

      It turns out that it's darker than I thought (just finished the final read-through tonight) and is peppered with mystical symbolism and ideas - tarot, meditation, reincarnation, faith, loss, truth, the unity of all creation in the mind of the One, . Just your average fantasy quest. It's also slimmed down from 142,000 words to 119,000 (over a long period of time, I hasten to add) which is great for the unit cost!

      If you'd like a Word version I can email it over.

    4. Sounds great. If I can be of any help, e-mai it over. But if you've got all the help you need then I'll wait until it's published and buy a version!

    5. Hi Chloe, I think my previous reply is lost in cyberspace. Thanks for the kind offer - I'd prefer to save it for my latest WiP, when I get to that point.

    6. Cool - well I look forward to buying a copy then! And to reading your WiP when I can be of use to you :)

  2. I've only read one of these books from the list -- The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. The Help by Kathryn Stockett should've been nominated. It's a really good book -- the novel is uplifting and inspiring.

    1. The Help is in the top five nominees for this next year I think, so it stands a good chance of getting on :)

  3. I loved Notes from a Small Island too too Chloe. I strongly recommend you read Remains of the Day. If you don't like it I'll eat my blog.

    1. I really hope I don't like it...

      I'm sure I will though. The husband loved it and everybody who's read it seems to like it.

  4. From that list, I've read Pride and Prejudice (which I enjoyed a lot more than I expected), Sleepyhead (a tense crime thriller with a very dark twist), Rebecca (very good but not my favourite du Maurier), and The Road (very good but hard work - it's so unrelentingly bleak). I've got several of the others and will, I'm sure, get around to reading them soon.

    World Book Night does seem like a great idea, although I'd love to know how many reluctant readers it actually manages to 'turn'. Part of me expects that most of the books are snapped up by people who are already enthusiastic bookworms.

    1. I think you're probably right about most of the books given away by volunteers. But the work that the charity does in general is great. One of my favourite aspects is that they give copies of books to prison inmates and their partners/children/social workers so that they can all read the same book and share that experience, even though they can't be together. It helps keep a good relationship going (and therefore more likely to have the support they need when they are released) and gives something positive to talk about together.


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