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