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 bookcrossing.com, 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!
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