Once again, World Book Night managed to send me my ‘apply to be a giver!’ email a whole days after I had already done so, but apart from that this year I’d like to say BLOODY WELL DONE. From a reading for pleasure promoter’s (working on the job title…) point of view this is a fantastic list, one I can definitely work with and it shows that they are listening, and have learnt. Two biographies, an accessible classic, more YA, and a Graphic Novel (that’s also about to be a film), this is a list that might not get already avid reader’s hearts singing, but as a way of introducing people to reading for pleasure as a socially acceptable activity, or enticing people back into reading this is perfect.
What to do
1) look at the list of books below, try not to make my massive ranting cloud your judgement.
2) choose your top three
3) go to the World Book Night website and register yourself as a giver.
4) join me and some other book lovers, as well as the regulars and not-so-regulars of my local, Arcadia, on the 23 April to a celebration of reading for pleasure!
Casino Royale by Ian Fleming
The 50th Anniversary of the first James Bond film, this book is a timely inclusion that should be quite popular. I’ve never actually read a James Bond book, but it is a good choice.
Damage by Josephine Hart
To be honest, I’ve never heard of it and know nothing about it. Anyone read it? Any good?
The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde
Jasper Fforde’s fans are legendary in their commitment to this series, and their love for his quirky style of writing. Myself personally I couldn’t get into this and abandoned half way through, but I know of a LOT of book lovers who I know will be applying for this book and enthusiasm is always the best way to promote so go go gadget fans!
Girl with a Pearl Earring-Tracy Chevalier
I went through a really big Travy Chevalier stage in my Youth, and loved her historical fiction, and this is by far her best. A nice plot, lovely writing and also handily links to an alright film, this should be popular.
The Knife of Never Letting Go-Patrick Ness
My love of Patrick Ness knows no bounds-he supports libraries, he is tireless in his promotion of reading with younger people and is a multiple winner of the Carnegie Prize and other various prizes-this one won the Guardian’s Children’s Prize, which I REALLY hope they don’t put on the cover of the WBN version. This is the first in a spectacularly epic trilogy which, to be honest, I haven’t read because they are all about 400 pages long and never stay on my work library long enough. Dystopia fans should get into this.
Last Night Another Solider-Andy McNab
There’s a Quick Read!!!!!!!!!! This is fantastic news, and yes it might be Andy McGuns, but this is the sort of thing that gets especially older people reading-I know this from experience. This isn’t the best of the Quick Reads and I’d have much rather seen Chris Ryan’s war one but anyone living in squaddie towns would be well off thinking about using this.
Little Face-Sophie Hannah
I’ve read one Sophie Hannah (The Point of Rescue) and it scared the bejaysus out of me. Her books, psychological police thrillers, are very accomplished but also accessible, and fans of Scando Noir would enjoy her. This is her debut and I should look out for it.
A Little History of the World-E.H. Gombrich
I’ve never heard of this book but upon some investigation I’m now fascinated by it. A best seller in Vienna in 1935, written in six weeks by the then 26 year old Gombrich who had been commissioned to write a history of the world for younger readers, this tells the story of mankind from the stone age to the modern age. The reviews of it are consistently wonderful, I’ve already ordered a copy for work and it just sounds lovely. If I had already read it, I would probably go for this as I like this sort of book quite a lot!
Me Before You-Jojo Moyles
Oh how much do I hate this book! I got so cross with it, I had to stop reading it and throw it at the wall a couple of times. However. This book has been borrowed more from my work library than any other book this year. I’ve had a million conversations with students recommending it to their friends and it never ever stays on the shelf. I put it on display and it’s out in half an hour. It was a massive bestseller, was in every single shop window for about six months and people love it. I strongly suspect, however, that the reason they’ve said ‘yes’ to putting it on is that they’ve already made as much money as humanly possible from this book and she’s got a new one out next year and a re-release of her back-catalogue, but that’s me being cynical…
The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency-Alexander McCall Smith
This book is yet another example of why I don’t have a soul. I don’t get the obsession people have with this series at all. My mum loved them, my boss eats them. I find them boring and twee and completely lacking in substance, but not crap enough to constitute a guilty pleasure. BUT again, they are incredibly popular, and I’ve seen a lot of people take them as their first book on the various reading challenges I do, and the Travelling Suitcase Library never keeps them in for the same session. Will be a popular choice, so get in there quick.
Noughts and Crosses-Malorie Blackman
The World Book Night people should receive a massive big up for including this one, which I’ve chosen in my application. A brilliantly written, intense book about race in a dystopia which makes you think and cry and fall in love. The characters are two young people from opposite sides, but they are real teenagers, not this glittery feisty vampire nonsense, and their problems are so well described, whilst being totally accessible. I love this series of books, and again this never ever stays on the shelf and every single young person I recommend it to loves it. Not sure how it’ll go down in a pub but hey ho, I don’t care, it’s ace.
Red Dust Road-Jackie Kay
One of the two memoirs included, I’ve never read this but ForBooksSake love it, so I’m guessing it is going to be pretty good. It also won Scottish Book of the Year, so guess where this is going to be popular…
The Secret Scripture-Sebastian Barry
My second choice, because I loved this book. The story of a woman labelled ‘mad’ in a world that hates mental illness, this is beautiful a sad story and anyone who loves Maggie O’Farrell’s The Vanishing of Esme Lennox, or historical fiction in general, should read this. Again, it was a huge bestseller, and deserves its fame, and I would recommend it, more to people who already read a bit for pleasure but aren’t ‘avid’ readers.
The Dark Judges
It’s a graphic novel, which is amazing, but I’d love to see how they publish this in the current World Book Night paperback format. I’m not a graphic novel expert but I know a lot of people who are and are excited by this one’s inclusion. Plus, film’s out this year.
The Island-Victoria Hislop
I am so surprised this hasn’t been included before now, I think I already sort of presumed that it had. We read this Back In The Day when the book club was just the three of us in my kitchen, and all of us loved it. It was huge, and again might have already made as much money as it can-I see this a LOT in my charity shop hawls and book swaps so maybe it has already had its moment, hence the inclusion, but if you were giving your books out round the office say, this would be a lovely one. Great beach read.
The Reader-Bernhard Schlink
Never read it, heard only good things about it.
The Road Home-Rose Tremain
I’ve had this book on my TBR pile for the past five years or so and really really should read it because it looks ace! Shall bump up to the top of the pile and review asap.
Treasure Island-Robert Louis Stevenson
I love this book, Robert Louis Stevenson’s writing is extraordinary, he really sucks you into the adventure. Yes, it is slightly old fashioned, but it is also 130 years old and if they had to choose a classic, they couldn’t have picked a better one. I really now wnat to re-read this and I hope that people give it a chance.
The White Queen-Philippa Gregory
There had to be a Philippa Gregory at some point, and whilst this isn’t the one I’d have chosen (The Queen’s Fool is her best one), it is the start of a series they are still promoting so, like the Bernard Cornwell one last year, is probably a tactical choice on behalf of the publisher. It is good, but I can imagine a lot of historical fiction fans will be diasappointed.
Why Be Happy When You Can Be Normal?-Jeanette Winterson
This one will be huge, as I know a lot of people who love this book and Jeanette Winterson in general. I read it last Easter and enjoyed it for the most part, though I did skim parts as it (sorry) goes on a bit in places.