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This year marked the first World Book Night (not to be confused with World book Day on March 3) and I had the great pleasure of not only helping them out as a volunteer but also to be one of the 20,000 givers to get a batch of 48 books of one of the 25 chosen titles to hand out on the night of March 5th and thereafter. A total of one million free books will have 'released' across the UK and Ireland when everyone has given all their books away (I know 20,000 times 48 does not equal one million, the remaining books are given to hospitals, prisons, etc. by WBN directly).

I received 48 copies of Northern Lights by Philip Pullman to give away (with a special World Book Night cover and info on the inside and everything) and I picked them up at my local library on Saturday morning where I also met two other givers who were kind enough to offer me copies of their books One Day and A Fine Balance! Receiving free books is a fabulous start to the day, I must say. I spent most of Saturday morning/afternoon registering the books on, writing the individual identification numbers in them and basically getting them ready for handing out in the evening. While it was a long process it was a satisfying one too (even though writing in the books felt so very, very wrong).

There were thousands of events across the country for WBN and I went to the one in the South Bank Centre's Royal Festival Hall in London which consisted of readings from debuting and well-known authors. The first few weren't particularly interesting to me until Joe Dunthorne came on and read the first chapter of his novel Submarine (of which a movie adaptation will be released in cinemas soon). It was very quirky and funny and definitely made me want to seek out the novel. Also wonderful were Margaret Atwood and Mark Haddon. I even managed to catch Mark afterwards to get him to sign my copy of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time which he not only personalised but also drew a picture in, awesome! When all the guest speakers had finished I (and several other givers) gave away the books I had brought with me (not all 48 copies though as I couldn't carry them all) and it was wonderful to see people's faces lit up after receiving a free book without any strings attached. Some people asked me questions about the book and I also got into discussions about the various other titles being handed out on WBN which was just fabulous.

I also attended the launch in Trafalgar Square on March 4th and while it was absolutely freezing I had a great time. The evening started of with receiving a World Book Night t-shirt and a free book and book magazine from the Waterstones booth (score!) and it only got better from that point onwards. The event consisted of readings from books, poems and short stories and was hosted by Graham Norton who was absolutely hilarious throughout (point in case: "Many of you may be surprised to learn I can actually read."). Celebrity speakers included: PHILIP PULLMAN, STANLEY TUCCI, DBC Pierre, Sarah Waters, BORIS JOHNSON, Alan Bennett, RUPERT EVERETT, John Le Carré, Nick Cave, Hayley Atwell, MARGARET ATWOOD, Monica Ali, Suggs, Lemn Sissay, DAVID NICHOLLS, Edna O'Brien and MARK HADDON. Highlights: Boris Johnson reading an account of a hangover, Philip Pullman reading an excerpt from Northern Lights with wonderful voices for Iorek Byrnison and Lee Scoresby, a lovely poem reading by Stanley Tucci and Hayley Atwell, a touching reading from Stuart: A Life Backwards and David Nicholls reading a hilarious excerpt from his novel One Day (which I want to read asap now!).

As mentioned before I've given a bunch of my books away on the night itself and I am planning to 'release' the rest in the London public transport over the course of the next week. However before doing so I wanted to offer them up on here! So, who would like a free copy of Philip Pullman's Northern Lights? I am afraid I do have to see you in person in the next few months though so I don't have to hoard the books forever (and unfortunately I do not have the funds to send them over post either). Comment below if interested!

Graham Norton

Alan Bennett

Nelson's Column on Trafalgar Square

Rupert Everett

Mark Haddon

Boris Johnson

Lemn Sissay

Margaret Atwood


David Nicholls

Hayley Atwell & Stanley Tucci

Philip Pullman

Nick Cave

John Le Carré

Date: 2011-03-07 06:25 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Sounds awesome! Also,



p.s. Nick Cave's name deserves all caps too! It's NICK CAVE! :O

Date: 2011-03-07 07:04 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
*does not care for Nick Cave* :P

But yes Rupert may have made me flail just a little bit ;)

Date: 2011-03-08 01:25 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
And therein lies your heresy! lol.

Date: 2011-03-09 05:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I am not convinced, sorry to say. I might be persuaded otherwise if you vote Sherlock in the final four! Oh wait, wrong comment/post... :P

Date: 2011-03-09 05:24 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
But... but... I am leaving soon for the theatre in an hour and since indirectly it's your fault I won't be able to campaign properly tonight (as I'll be going to Foxy's play) it's the least you can do for me? :P

Date: 2011-03-09 05:39 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I'll vote for him if Foxy tells me so, via tangible proof. XD

Have heaps of fun tonight omg! Try not to laugh at the beard too much, lmao.

Date: 2011-03-09 05:59 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I'll do my best (everything to get Sherlock to win!)

Date: 2011-03-09 06:04 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Wait, wait, I don't want to make empty promises. Is the drama champion going against the comedy champion? Yeah, I'm never voting against my boy Troy. TROY FTW HE IS SO MUCH LOVE. Alas, I'm afraid even Foxy can't sway me on this one. But I still love him! lol.

Date: 2011-03-09 06:17 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
*super sad face* If I tell Foxy that there will be Jears!

Date: 2011-03-09 06:18 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Like he cares about Sherlock. :P

Date: 2011-03-09 06:19 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I meant the fact that Foxy can't sway your vote but now you mention it, I bet he's a closet John/Sherlock shipper!

Date: 2011-03-09 06:20 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
lmao. Okay, if you get him to admit THAT on video, I will change my vote to Sherlock. ROFL.

Date: 2011-03-09 06:22 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
lolol I can't wait.

Date: 2011-03-07 07:11 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]

Errr sorry I might slightly have a book crush on him? Have you read His Dark Materials or the Sally Lockhart books yet? I do encourage you to at some point.

Date: 2011-03-07 07:11 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Oh and awwwww you got a signed Mark Haddon. I love what he drew lol

Date: 2011-03-07 07:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
He was so nice <3 I only asked if he could maybe, possibly sign my book and he asked for my name so he could personalise it and took his time drawing the picture (noting he was happy there wasn't a queue of 46 people because then it'd take him forever to sign all the books, ha!)
Edited Date: 2011-03-07 07:19 pm (UTC)

Date: 2011-03-07 07:14 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
*coughs and points at book title she gave away* You were supposed to pick a book you love so you can tell the people you give the book to why they should read it ;)

Anyway, Philip Pullman was AMAZING! I should probably upload the video I took of him reading an excerpt from Northern Lights his voices for the characters were fantastic.

I have the Sally Lockhart mysteries on my bookshelf but they are as of yet untouched (I saw one of the movies though, does that count? XD)

Date: 2011-03-11 09:39 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Ah, I didn't realise that you had to have read the book you give away. Yay I'm glad you like that series too :D

Ooooh sounds rad!

hehehe it does just cause it also has 11 in it :P (or was that the second one that he comes in?)

Date: 2011-03-13 03:38 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Ah yes, I suppose I didn't make that very clear. You had to fill in a whole application form and explain why you'd chosen this book as well. This to ensure that the book givers would know the books they give away well enough so that they can actually plug it to the receivers I suppose.

I've seen the one with Matt in it, yes! This was before DW when I didn't know him at all and was trying to make up my mind if I'd like him as the Doctor or not :)


Date: 2011-03-07 08:01 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Hi! (Saw your link on the World Book Night facebook page) We'd love to hear from you over at (, please drop us a visit! We have a thread on our forum for Northern Lights givers here ( Our LJ community is [ profile] btts_net.

Re: btts

Date: 2011-03-08 09:35 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thanks, will have a look at those links later.

Date: 2011-03-07 08:30 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
MARGARET ATWOOD!! Fantastic. One of my faves.

Also, Stanley Tucci makes me melt.
Frickin' cool thing for you to do!

Date: 2011-03-08 09:29 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
My thought process when she was reading: "She's Canadian, omg squeeeee!" Very intellectual, that.

Date: 2011-03-08 08:25 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Welll hello there Hayley Atwell... and Nick Cave... and I'm sure I know Philip Pullman but I'm not sure why...

You know, this post totally reminded me of all the SUPPORT literary work has in England. I rather forgot about that point, but I was just having flashbacks to all the posters in the underground when I was there last.

ETA: I have lost my command of the English language haha
Edited Date: 2011-03-08 08:29 am (UTC)

Date: 2011-03-08 09:32 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
YOU DON'T INSTANTLY KNOW PHILIP PULLMAN?? He only wrote His Dark Materials (the book I got to give out, Northern Lights, is part 1 in the trilogy) or known to Americans as The Golden Compass as well as the Sally Lockhart mysteries.

Not in Australia? I am pretty sure you have World Book Day as well, just on another date don't you? We have both an adult book week and children's book week in the Netherlands, there's something different everywhere :)

Date: 2011-03-09 09:24 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I have no idea. It's not heavily promoted if we do. We're a "sporting nation" that's all we ever really hear about.

Ahhh Golden Compass dude. OK. Thanks XD

Date: 2011-03-09 09:27 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
How strange - the two are not mutually exclusive as both the UK and the Netherlands are a footie nation and it features heavily in papers/news/every day talk too. Maybe it just depends on what your news sources are or in what circles you work etc.?

Shall I keep a copy aside for you then so you can discover the awesomeness that is Philip Pullman? The books are WAY better than the movie.

Date: 2011-03-09 09:34 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
No it's cool, I'd never get around to reading it *evidence the mass amount of unread books currently sitting by my bedside*

Date: 2011-03-09 09:42 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
You need to read more, aren't you commuting several hours a day? :P

Also, something I just thought of, WBN was very poorly advertised too, many people didn't know of it either. But because 1 million free books (with info on the now annual event) have been given out more people will become aware of it for next year. So it's not like everyone here knew about it either, I just found it originally through a Tweet on my feed from a publishing house I think ;)

Date: 2011-03-08 11:51 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
You have your capitals all wrong! (Margaret and Boris may keep theirs, but how could you not capitalise Mark Haddon, especially after your awesome signed copy of what is a truly wonderful book?)

Given that I've never read any Pullman and I'm seeing you in the not so dim and distant future, I don't strongly object to alleviating you of a copy of Northern Lights. ;P

Date: 2011-03-08 12:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Of course you're absolutely right, Mark's name should be capitalised! Thing is, I haven't read his book yet and I wrote the Trafalgar Square bit before I got to briefly speak to him on the 5th so he didn't stand out yet at time of writing that part of the entry. Will correct that now!

And I'll also be putting a copy of Northern Lights aside for you. (hope you'll bring a big bag on the 17th, I have an issue Metro for you too!) I can't believe you haven't read it yet by the way - hope you'll enjoy it :D

Date: 2011-03-08 08:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Sounds like a wonderful night. I'm sorry I couldn't join you, but you clearly had an awesome time! I'm jealous you met Mark Haddon as Curious Incident is one of my favourite books.

Date: 2011-03-09 08:31 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I have to admit I never heard of the book before World Book Night, but I had a quick browse through it the other day and it looks very interesting - can't wait to start reading it!

Well done

Date: 2011-03-11 07:57 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] (from
Well done Zarina! Im impressed with the photos. Can I feature you and one or two photos in my blogsite? Unfortunately, I was not able to attend coz of my location, but I asked friends to attend but they did not able to take pictures. Im interested to get a copy but I live in Northern Ireland. I could pay for the postage (thru paypal). Thanks again for sharing this. Best regards, Rey (created the WBN thread).

Re: Well done

Date: 2011-03-12 12:55 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thanks ever so much, I am glad you like them! I have to say they actually look quite bad up here as Facebook (where I uploaded them) seems to have resized the size and with that the quality. If you still like to repost some however that'd be alright if you don't mind linking back to my original post here as well.

I wouldn't mind if you can PayPal me the postage but wouldn't it be cheaper to buy a copy of, bookdepository or something like that where there are no shipping costs involved? I quite honestly have no idea how expensive shipping to NI would be. Let me know what you prefer :)
Edited Date: 2011-03-12 12:56 pm (UTC)

Re: Well done

Date: 2011-03-29 09:11 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] (from
Hi, sorry for a late reply. Well I will use some of them and link it here. Yup, I think you are right to buy it by myself. I also prefer bookdepository but I will check with whichever cheaper. My challenge now is to read and release books every month, and maybe read all the 25 book titles featured in the launching. I already completed reading Fingesmith and started Life of Pi. I got copies of Curious Incident, Dillusion, Life Like Other Peoples (Bennett) from my secondhand bookshops and swaps.

Date: 2011-03-17 07:38 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
sounds like a fine time!

Date: 2011-03-18 11:19 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
It was! Such a wonderful experience :D

Date: 2011-03-25 09:47 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Hello, Wasn't it great! I debated giving out Northern Lights as like one of your readers I have a book crush on Pullman. I asked for Curious Incident but I ended up with Life of Pi which is also fantastic. I gave the first copy to a guy at the bus stop outside the library because he randomly told me a story. Soon after I saw a pile of world book day tomes in a cafe so walked in. The books turned out to be from Jamie who started WBN and he gave me Reluctant Fundamentalist. And then a bookseller gave me a volume I hadn't heard of, its about a homeless man. I left copies on public transport, gave some out in waiting areas, colleagues, and anyone who looked like they wanted a good book. If you're in London I can give you a copy too.

Date: 2011-03-26 10:41 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
It was definitely a wonderful experience. And thank you for telling me a little bit about what you've done, I love readin everyone's stories. I too have left some books randomly in public transport and am now eagerly awaiting people to enter the codes on book crossing (so far only 1 person has done so).

The book you hadn't heard off I am assuming is Stuart: A Life Backwards? It was a BBC drama a while back which was a really interesting movie and I am currently reading the book myself, I find it amazing. Have you started it yet?

Thanks so much for the offer of the book by the way! While I do live in London I already own a copy of Life of Pi (the regular version though not the WBN one) so I'm good :)

Date: 2011-03-27 11:40 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Hi, you're right, it was Stuart, thanks for the recommendation. I will find a suitable bench and start reading it soon :) Well done for even getting one entry on bookcrossing!

Date: 2011-03-27 02:54 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Is it really that bad normally? I got talking to quite a few of the people I gave the books to also explaining about bookcrossing and they all promised they'd enter the number on there... so far they haven't :(

Date: 2011-03-27 11:52 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
ooh did you find a quicker way to register the books eg as a batch? thanks

Date: 2011-03-27 02:56 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Unfortunately no. I was one of the people who did not get numbers from WBN so I decided to register the books myself and since I was unfamiliar with Bookcrossing before then I had no idea how to do it quickly. So I registered the books one by one and then added release notes one by one too. I am sure there's an easier way I just haven't found it... Let me know if/when you do though! :)


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