We all love a good book. It gives us a chance to escape from the real world. To forget what’s going on in our own lives and emerge ourselves with the characters on the page. For a while we become part of their world, sometimes we may even want to stay part of it.
But have you ever loved a book so much you want everyone to read it? Well tomorrow, thousands of people all over Britain will be taking part in World Book Night and together they will give away one million books.
This nationwide celebration will enable book lovers to share their passion of the written word and aims to be the largest book giveaway ever.
And it doesn’t stop there. The idea is for people to continue passing the book on to someone else. There are 25 different titles which will be handed out and everyone who gets involved will have the opportunity to share their experience with other book givers.
The army of book lovers dedicated to the cause each had to explain in 100 words why they chose a particular book from the list and how they would distribute them.
A Cardiff author has been selected as a book giver, although she will be handing them out as herself and not her author pseudonym.
Jo Griffiths the distributer (she writes as Jo Verity - and admits she confuses herself at times – I may just refer to her as Jo) will be based in Rhiwbina giving away 48 copies of The Spy Who Came in from the Cold by John Le Carré.
“I first heard about it on TV – a mention on the Culture Show I think. The whole thing sounded anarchic enough to be fun.
“A chance to spread the word - literally - about a book which I loved and which might encourage reluctant readers to get in to the habit,” she said.
Before knowing how the application process worked she initially thought the givers would be giving away 48 copies of a book of their own choosing.
“Once I started the online application I discovered I had to select my first and second choice from a list of 25. I didn’t agonise over it once I’d seen The Spy Who Came in from the Cold was on there,” she said.
Jo describes the book as, “a riveting story from start to finish.”
“Filled with mystery, history, romance, pathos, tragedy, it’s got the lot,” she said.
She plans to mainly target men aged between 18 and 40 who may not generally be drawn to this type of book.
The million books have been published as special editions with “World Book Night 2011” printed on the front cover.
But not everyone is overwhelmed by the prospect of the largest book giveaway ever. There has been a backlash from some independent book sellers and authors who claim it will damage the trade.
Personally I feel it’s a great idea and is likely to encourage people to read more. Sometimes we need to learn to spread a bit of joy. And what a cultured manner in which to do so.
Jo is looking forward to Saturday although she can’t quite imagine how it will turn out.
“I know people are very wary of anyone trying to give away anything in the street. I look pretty harmless so I hope they won’t feel threatened.
“If someone offers you a free book on Saturday night, take it. Give it a try – especially if it’s not the sort of thing you’d normally read. If you don’t like it, pass it on. And if you do like it, pass it on,” she said.