World Book Night

“I cannot live without books.”

Thomas Jefferson

What am I going to write about today?

I’m a bit stuck, here. I haven’t watched anything worthwhile, I haven’t finished any books recently, I haven’t listened to any new music, and writing about the extremely obscure animated series Soul Music for the third time in a week would probably try even your patience, Constant Reader. Basically, my life is extremely boring at the moment.


Snow? Nope, can’t get a hundred words out of snow. My cats? Probably wouldn’t interest you. The decline of society? Well, where do I start?

I know! World Book Night! That’s interesting, right? And vaguely literary too, so we’re off to a good start.

So. World Book Night is a brilliant concept dreamed up by the publisher Jamie Byng a couple of years ago. Basically, every year on the 23rd April a million books are given away free by members of the public.

It’s that simple. Something like 20,000 people give away 20 copies of a book that they’ve chosen from a list of, er, 20 (see a pattern here?), preferably a book that they’ve read and loved or at least liked very much. Now, a couple of seconds with a calculator will tell you that 20 × 20,000 is not a million. The remaining 600,000 books are given away to “the hardest to reach potential readers in prisons, care homes, hospitals, sheltered, supported and social housing, the homeless and through partner charities working throughout the UK”, according to the website in a somewhat less than crystal clear sentence.

The first year, 2011, I got a World Book Night copy of Margaret Atwood’s Blind Assassin. Which, to be perfectly honest, I didn’t enjoy all that much, but you can’t have everything. Last time (earlier this year) one of my all-time favourite books, Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, was on the list, but to my annoyance I wasn’t in England on the date. So this time, I’ve finally done it: I’ve Applied To Be A Giver for 2013. And I’m (hopefully) going to give away copies of The Number One Ladies’ Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith. Which isn’t the best book ever, but it’s my favourite one from the list that I’ve actually read. Plus it’s the first of a massive series, so it’s a good one to Get People Reading, which is the whole point of World Book Night.

I’m not entirely sure what the point of this post is though. Er…World Book Night is a Good Thing? Yes. One million free books are not to be sneezed at.

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