Lit Preview: World Book Day / Night

Rachel Holdsworth
By Rachel Holdsworth Last edited 92 months ago
Lit Preview: World Book Day / Night

Two celebrations of books take place this week: the annual World Book Day is this Thursday with lots of events for children at various venues (including some libraries earmarked for closure; rumours that councillors will be using the reference section to look up the word 'irony' are as yet unconfirmed). Grown-ups can hear Anthony Horowitz give a lecture on Literacy: The State of the Nation, head to the National Maritime Museum for events with authors Richard Freeman, Susan Ronald, Amanda Douglas and Douglas Ronald, or snap up a Quick Read for £1.99.

As surely as night follows day, World Book Day is followed by, er, World Book Night. In case you've missed this particular initiative, 1 million books will be given away for free on Saturday. But not any books, and not by anyone - the books are from a selection of 25 and are being given away by a selected group of people, who each have 50 copies of their chosen book. With us so far? Good.

As at the time of hitting 'publish', exact details of where you'll be able to get which books aren't online, but we're promised they're coming. However, we've got wind of events at libraries in East Sheen, Forest Hill, Gants Hill, Kingston, Twickenham, Mayfair, Paddington and Victoria, plus a Southern Gothic night at Luminous Books and two giant book scupltures and a reading from Alexander Masters at John Harvard Library on Borough High Street for Book Aid.

What is confirmed, though, is a massive free launch event on Friday 6-8pm in Trafalgar Square, with 5,000 'givers' and 5,000 members of the public, plus readings from (deep breath) Margaret Atwood, Alan Bennett, Nick Cave, John le Carré, Rupert Everett, Mark Haddon, Hanif Kureishi, Graham Norton, Edna O'Brien, DBC Pierre, Philip Pullman, Lemn Sissay and Derek Walcott.

Margaret Atwood and Mark Haddon will be at the Royal Festival Hall from 8pm on Saturday for more reading and giving, plus an appearance on the big stage for one of our favourite lit events, The Book Stops Here. Emma Young is bringing along Stuart Evers, Evie Wyld, Joe Dunthorne and Rebecca Hunt and, again, it's totally free.

If you missed your chance to be a giver or can't get to an event, are the only person in Britain who doesn't fancy the sound of David Nicholls's One Day or passionately want to spread the love about your favourite book, we suggest you take a look at author Nicola's Morgan's alternative idea. Go to your local bookshop, buy a copy of your favourite book, and give it to someone. You'll help booksellers (and if you're in Wood Green, we recommend heading to the Big Green Bookshop) and get the word out about authors who might not be as well known as Marian Keyes and John le Carré.

World Book Day is Thursday 3rd March. World Book Night launches in Trafalgar Square on Friday 4th March, 6-8pm, access from 5pm; the giving takes place on Saturday 5th March in various venues, for more information see the World Book Night website.

Photo by aye-eye from the Londonist Flickr pool

Last Updated 01 March 2011