April 23 is a symbolic date for world literature. Not only because it’s both the birth and death date of Shakespeare, but also when World Book Night is celebrated in the UK, Ireland and the USA. Oh and it’s St George’s Day!
Run by independent charity The Reading Agency since it launched in 2011, World Book Night is a huge free celebration with authors galore and a massive giveaway of books. It invites individuals, companies and communities to help improve literacy by placing books into the hands of those who don’t regularly read. The charity’s mission is to give everyone an equal chance to become a reader – Because everything changes when we read.
And I couldn’t agree more. I don’t know where I’d be or who I’d be if I didn’t read. If I didn’t lose myself in a good book and exercise my imagination. It’s healthy for the brain and for your own creativity and wellbeing. At least I think so anyway.
It’s a sad fact that 35 per cent of people in the UK don’t regularly read (according to The Reading Agency), despite reading for pleasure being a globally recognised indicator in a huge range of social issues from poverty to mental health. This year, hundreds of events from small community gatherings to author readings and book clubs are going to be held throughout the nation as a celebration of reading and books for World Book Night, supported by bookshops and libraries as well as volunteers who are giving away the World Book Night editions (listed below) and passing them on to reluctant readers.
Out of the books in the list below, I have chosen 59 Seconds written by one of my favourite authors/psychologists Richard Wiseman – who I have been lucky enough to see a couple of times (with my other heroes Richard Dawkins and Bill Bailey, as well as in one of comedian Richard Herring’s shows). Note the love of Richards.
So, in an effort to help people read more, I am going to be giving away some of Wiseman’s books. So please let me know if you want one. He’s a brilliant writer, psychologist and even a comedian. Not only do I want to encourage reading, but I also want more people to be interested in psychology, parapsychology and just the general behaviour of humans.
Last April, 500,000 books were given out by 20,000 volunteers, each of whom were allocated 20 copies of one of 20 titles selected for the event, including Casino Royale by Ian Fleming and The Island by Victoria Hislop. This year, 250,000 copies of 20 titles will be given out around the UK. World Book Night is hoping to have 100,000 volunteers giving away books by 2017.
The complete list of World Book Night 2014 books is as follows:
- Hello Mum by Bernardine Evaristo (Penguin General)
- Four Warned by Jeffrey Archer (Macmillan)
- A Perfect Murder by Peter James (Macmillan)
- Today Everything Changes by Andy McNab (Transworld)
- Short Stories by Roald Dahl (Penguin Michael Joseph)
- Cherub: The Recruit by Robert Muchamore (Hachette Children’s)
- Theodore Boone by John Grisham (Hodder & Stoughton)
- The Humans by Matt Haig (Canongate)
- The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne (Vintage, Random House)
- Gorky Park by Martin Cruz Smith (Simon and Schuster)
- Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin (Transworld)
- Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch (Orion)
- After the Funeral by Agatha Christie (HarperCollins)
- Whatever it Takes by Adele Parks (Headline)
- Geezer Girls by Dreda Say Mitchell (Hodder & Stoughton)
- Black Hills by Nora Roberts (Little, Brown)
- Getting Rid of Matthew by Jane Fallon (Penguin Michael Joseph)
- The Boy With the Topknot by Sathnam Sanghera (Penguin General)
- 59 Seconds by Richard Wiseman (Macmillan)
- Confessions of a GP by Dr Benjamin Daniels (The Friday Project, Harper Collins)
To donate towards the event, please visit World Book Night’s JustGiving page.
Email me at email@example.com if you want more information or a Wiseman book.