My lovely friend Mary is participating in World Book Night, and as a result, she has a stack of books to distribute amongst us book-a-holics. I'm lucky enough to be one of the recipients, so next week I will take posession of a copy of David Mitchell's "Cloud Atlas", which has been on my Wants list of books for a while now.
To quote from the website:
"World Book Night represents the most ambitious and far-reaching celebration of adult books and reading ever attempted in the UK and Ireland.
On Saturday, 5 March 2011, two days after World Book Day, with the full support of the Publishers Association, the Booksellers Association, the Independent Publishers Guild, the Reading Agency with libraries, World Book Day, the BBC and RTE, one million books will be given away by an army of passionate readers to members of the public across the UK and Ireland.
The book give-away will comprise 40,000 copies of each of the 25 carefully selected titles, to be given away by 20,000 ‘givers’, who will each distribute 48 copies of their chosen title to whomever they choose on World Book Night. The remaining books will be distributed by World Book Night itself in places that might otherwise be difficult to reach, such as prisons and hospitals.
The twenty-five titles were selected by a wide-ranging editorial committee, chaired by James Naughtie."
Now, a lot of people, like myself, who are life-long avid readers, have been very much looking forward to this celebration of books and reading in general, which is wonderful, but I find myself increasingly concerned that "settling down with a good book" is a diminishing pastime, and even more sadly, has never figured in so many people's lives. Whenever I go to someone's house for the first time, I find myself scanning rooms for books. It isn't deliberate, really! I seem to do it instinctively, and when books are conspicuous by their absence, I invariably feel deeply sad. My father, who himself was an avid reader, used to tell me that his best friends were books, and that during the horrific years of the Second World War, he could forget what was going on around him, and what he had to participate in night after night, day after day, by losing himself in books.
And a good book really doesn't need to be "worthy", or "literary". I'm just as happy whiling away the hours with a blockbuster crime thriller from Stieg Larsson or Val McDermid as I am re-reading my beloved Thomas Hardy and Charlotte Bronte, with all stages of fiction in between.
While I've been typing this, I've been watching Book Night on BBC2, and I'm now desperate to get my hands on some of the titles mentioned tonight. Nothing, not even my favourite perfume or the aroma of bread just out of my oven, smells as good as a new book. I'm sure there are names for people like me!
Enjoy your weekend,