A few weeks ago I took part in the first World Book Night event. I had been selected to receive 48 copies of one of the 25 shortlisted books, Carol Ann Duffy's The World's Wife, a collection of the Poet Laureate's work based on fairytales and myths.
The opening event was held on a Friday evening in Trafalgar Square, and The Boy and I went as wristband wearing VIPs (as all givers had the opportunity to be). There were free smoothies from Innocent, demonstrations of the Kindle (boo, hiss) and mini bookshop tents from Waterstone's who sponsored the event.
Shivering in the bitter March wind the crowd gathered to hear a selection of authors read passages from their own work or that of others. Philip Pullman read from Northern Lights, another of the 25, and he did all the voices for his characters, at one point I closed my eyes and just let it wash over me. Alan Bennett read from his memoir A Life Like Other People's, about his mother's slow descent into dementia, it was sad but he has such a lovely voice. Rupert Everett, Sarah Waters, David Nicholls, Monica Ali and even Mayor Boris Johnson (who has an excellent voice and should he ever give up politics could very easily get a job reading audio books) were among the other readers. Margaret Atwood was my only problem, she doesn't have the strongest voice and her reading seemed to go on for ever.
It's a shame it wasn't warmer, standing there shivering was a bit grim. But on the whole a thoroughly enjoyable literary launch.
The actual day was the Saturday (March 5th). Following on from World Book Day a few days before, the first week of March should be declared Book Week.
I rounded up my glamorous assistant, Aleks, and we set out to hand out free slices of literature to all and sundry.
Harrow being a bit of a hole, the literary bods were not out in force, we jumped on a train and headed into London. In Soho we handed books to people sitting outside cafes, walking along the streets and hanging out in the square. A few went off to the hospital Aleks' mum works in, a few more to my uni friends and a couple of lecturers, including the head of department who was so taken aback at my gift, she gave me a big hug!
A couple are waiting to be sent to friends slightly further afield, including my funny chum Tyler, who was the first person to ask for a copy, and has apparently made a video about it (he makes hilarious youtube videos).
My work colleague Karen, who makes me laugh every day, got one, my boyfriend's mum will be getting one this weekend when we visit, the shop assistant in the massive Waterstone's in Piccadilly got one, another couple of friends who asked nicely will also be getting copies as soon as I can get to the post office. Aleks' friend who met us for coffee got one. Complete strangers got them.
48 books with new homes. Times a million. That's right, a million books were given away for World Book Night, and hopefully people rushed to their local bookshop and picked up something perhaps that they'd never read before.
I've already signed up to be a giver next year.
What book would you like to give away?? What book would you like to receive and what book do you always give/recommend to people?